Sunday, September 7, 2014


I've already told you guys that I've been craving Greek food since I've been pregnant. Salty kalamata olives, french fries doused with Cavender's greek seasoning and dipped in tzatziki, and of course my favorite gyro sandwich.

With that being said, WHY IN THE WORLD am I just now discovering Pastitsio - often described as greek comfort food or greek lasagna! If you know me and have been holding out on me, I may never forgive you! I'll be adding this to my recipes for company, since you make a giant pan and pop it in the oven to bake for an hour. That way, when your friends or family arrive, you are prepared and can relax while this delicious dish bakes in the oven. 

I've watched Ina make this recipe a few times on her show, and the last book that I read was a strong reminder that watching is not doing! I took that advice and spent the afternoon in the kitchen making Ina's recipe, and it was so worth a few hours. I've already packed up to go containers to share with my favorite friends who love Greek food as much as I do. 

from Ina Garten

Tomato meat sauce:

3 Tbsp good olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 pound lean ground beef
1 pound ground lamb
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 Tbsp minced garlic (3 large cloves)
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes in puree
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 extra-large eggs, beaten
2/3 cup Greek-style plain yogurt, such as Fage Total

3/4 pound small shells (I used Cavatappi)

For the meat sauce, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large pot. Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes. Add the beef and lamb, and saute over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until it's no longer pink, crumbling it with the back of a wooden spoon. Drain off any excess liquid, add the wine, and cook for 2 more minutes. Add the garlic, cinnamon, oregano, thyme, and cayenne and continue cooking over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 40-45 minutes. Set aside. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

For the bechamel, heat the milk and cream together in a small saucepan over medium0low heat until simmering. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly for 2 minutes. Pour the warm milk and cream mixture into the butter and flour mixture, whisking constantly. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, over medium heat, for 5 to 7 minutes, until smooth and thick. Add the nutmeg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Stir in 3/4 cup of Parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup of the meat sauce, and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Stir in the eggs and yogurt and set aside. 

Add the pasta to the meat sauce, and the mixture into a baking dish. Spread the bechamel evenly to cover the pasta and sprinkle with the remaining 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Bake for 1 hour, until golden brown and bubbly. Set aside for 10 minutes and serve hot. 

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