This is the ultimate Greek comfort food, a hearty casserole of cinnamon-spiked ground lamb baked with penne and a Parmesan cheese sauce.

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Ingredients

Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook pasta, and drain; reserve. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, over medium heat, cook lamb, breaking apart pieces with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 6 to 8 minutes. Add onions; cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes.

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  • Transfer to a colander; drain fat, and discard. Return lamb to pan; add wine. Cook over medium heat until almost all liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes.

  • Stir in tomato paste, cinnamon, and 2 cups water; simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 15 to 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

  • Make Parmesan cheese sauce while mixture is simmering: In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat; whisk in flour until incorporated, about 30 seconds. In a slow steady stream, whisk in milk until there are no lumps.

  • Cook, whisking often, until mixture is thick and bubbly and coats the back of a wooden spoon, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in cayenne, if desired, and Parmesan.

  • Add pasta to lamb mixture; transfer to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Pour sauce over the top, smoothing with the back of a spoon until level. Bake until browned in spots, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven; let cool 15 minutes before serving.

Reviews (22)

122 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 19
  • 4 star values: 20
  • 3 star values: 54
  • 2 star values: 22
  • 1 star values: 7
Rating: 3 stars
02/23/2019
As a Greek growing up with this as a staple at Sunday and holiday dinners, we always make this with ‘macaroni’, long hollow pasta, like tubular spaghetti. This allows for a a cohesive casserole that slices beautifully into layered squares.
Rating: 5 stars
08/19/2013
I love this recipe; it's simple, tasty, and incredibly comforting. It's great for entertaining, but when I'm just serving my family, I like to freeze half for an easy straight-from-the-freezer casserole. My partner isn't fond of lamb, so I usually replace it with beef. (If it was just me, it would be all lamb, all the time.)
Rating: Unrated
06/18/2013
Not authentic but really simple and tasty. Makes the whole house smell wonderful. I added fresh oregano to the meat mixture
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Rating: Unrated
04/15/2013
This could not be more wrong. Pastitsio is never made with lamb ground meat. It's always beef. Why do people assume that if a Greek recipe asks for meat, it has to be lamb? That's ridiculous.
Rating: Unrated
04/15/2013
This could not be more wrong. Pastitsio is never made with lamb ground meat. It's always beef. Why do people assume that if a Greek recipe asks for meat, it has to be lamb? That's ridiculous.
Rating: Unrated
02/03/2012
cant wait to try this - but what Kind of wine is best? I'm not very adventurous! I think recipes should be more specific about wine choices. thanks.
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Rating: Unrated
09/20/2011
I don't eat lamb, so I've never had this, but I've made it for my husband several times. He loves lamb and he LOVES this recipe. It's a little complicated for a weeknight, but definitely good for a weekend dinner.
Rating: Unrated
02/18/2011
FABULOUS. Comfort food. I opted for ground beef, added a bit of oregano, garlic, and salt (because Greeks have to have these ingredients with their cinnamon). I added a little extra cayenne pepper and was more generous with the Parmesan cheese. Such an easy and delicious casserole. Everyone enjoyed and probably ate more than they should have because it was so good.
Rating: Unrated
11/30/2009
I stuck with the lamb and used lamb stock instead of water. I also doubled the wine, added garlic, oregano and a sprig of rosemary. The rosemary may not be authentic but it was very tasty.
Rating: Unrated
02/04/2009
bornagaincarrot - replace the lamb with ground beef. That's what I do. I don't like lamb either.
Rating: Unrated
02/04/2009
bornagaincarrot - replace the lamb with ground beef. That's what I do. I don't like lamb either.
Rating: Unrated
11/06/2008
Could I replace the lamb with something else? This recipe looks great except I don't like lamb.
Rating: Unrated
10/21/2008
Garlic is an absolute must- perhaps just one or two cloves. It's slightly bland without it- but even our toddler adored this recipe. This made 3 8x8 pans worth so we're freezing two. Each would easily serve four adults, so plan to have lots of extra if you're making it all at once!
Rating: Unrated
04/27/2008
Brilliant and so easy. I added garlic and oregano as was suggested by foodiewife and this is now a family favourite.
Rating: Unrated
03/05/2008
This is a winner! I "halved" the recipe, and I still had six generous servings. I only added two additional things to the meat sauce-- I added some dried oregano (I dry my own herbs) and I added one clove of garlic to the onions. I thought the dish was fantastic, and the bechamel was easy to make. Next time, I think I'll double the bechamel sauce. I can't wait to eat this for my work lunch tomorrow. I served this with a Greek salad. Excellent! Love this recipe.
Rating: Unrated
02/27/2008
mmsrjs This is good with ground beef, but it's best with lamb. I don't know where you live, but if you're close to a Super-Target they often have ground lamb. Or - you can grind it yourself. I promise it's worth the effort. The flavor is very different.
Rating: Unrated
02/27/2008
mmsrjs This is good with ground beef, but it's best with lamb. I don't know where you live, but if you're close to a Super-Target they often have ground lamb. Or - you can grind it yourself. I promise it's worth the effort. The flavor is very different.
Rating: Unrated
02/27/2008
mmsrjs This is good with ground beef, but it's best with lamb. I don't know where you live, but if you're close to a Super-Target they often have ground lamb. Or - you can grind it yourself. I promise it's worth the effort. The flavor is very different.
Rating: Unrated
02/27/2008
mmsrjs This is good with ground beef, but it's best with lamb. I don't know where you live, but if you're close to a Super-Target they often have ground lamb. Or - you can grind it yourself. I promise it's worth the effort. The flavor is very different.
Rating: Unrated
02/27/2008
mmsrjs This is good with ground beef, but it's best with lamb. I don't know where you live, but if you're close to a Super-Target they often have ground lamb. Or - you can grind it yourself. I promise it's worth the effort. The flavor is very different.
Rating: Unrated
02/27/2008
mmsrjs This is good with ground beef, but it's best with lamb. I don't know where you live, but if you're close to a Super-Target they often have ground lamb. Or - you can grind it yourself. I promise it's worth the effort. The flavor is very different.
Rating: Unrated
01/20/2008
Changing ground lamb to hamburger, and it comes out wonderful. someday I would like to try the "lamb" but can't get it here. Was living in Athens, Greece for about 6 months and loved it. Beautiful people and places to see.