This Greek pastitio is a delicious oven baked pasta dish! And it consists of thick layers of tender macaroni, ground beef and a creamy bechamel white sauce… What’s not to love about this Greek pasta bake?
Making a good Greek pastitio at home isn’t difficult at all.
It takes some time to make, I agree. As if we mind being in the kitchen for a couple of hours! These types of dishes are so much fun to make, especially on a cold and rainy day. Why not spend your time in the kitchen and make a delicious dinner!
And I can assure you that once you got a plateful of this steaming freshly baked Greek pastitio pasta in front of you, that it is truly worth every second of your time.
So what’s the secret behind a good pastitio then?
Well I would say a good dash of cinnamon I guess! But don’t you exaggerate with that strong ground spice. It can quickly become too overpowering and unappetizing if you add too much cinnamon. Don’t turn this Greek pasta bake into a dessert!
And I don’t think that I need to tell you that this dish also tastes even better if you use lamb mince instead of ground beef. Lamb mince and cinnamon are a great match for each other. But I just happened to have a heap of beef mince in my fridge.
So I use that instead of buying even more ground meat.
What a fabulous dinner.
Pastitio Recipe (Greek Baked Pasta)
This pasta bake is a pretty straightforward recipe.
However it is best to follow all the steps by the book, because you can easily mess up this beautiful pastitio so much so that it will look more like a dog’s dinner in the end.
So for instance, don’t make the tomato sauce and white sauce for this pastitio too runny.
Because in the end you want to be able to slice through the baked pasta easily. However if both of your sauces are way too wet, then all the layers and the whole dish will collapse and fall apart. And you don’t want that. What you are looking after here is to cut this pasta bake into squares and place them neatly on your plate.
I can also recommend to make this recipe a day in advance, assemble it and then put the pastitio in the fridge to set and chill overnight.
It tastes even better the day after, especially if you are using lamb mince!
I have visited Greece quite a few times in the past. And not surprisingly this Greek pastitio bake is a dish that you can find absolutely everywhere. It is a very popular recipe in Greece, even in the Greek islands.
So what’s the best version that I have tasted so far then? Well that was in a restaurant in Crete, situated near a village by the name of Frangokastello, in the south.
I forgot the name of the restaurant but it was run by 2 Greek brothers and their German wives. The hubs and I spent many afternoons there, taking to the owners and enjoying the sea view. If I recall it well, the mother of the brothers prepared the pastitio which was a family recipe.
And it was finger licking good.
I have to admit that my recipe here below is very good as well, but the pastitio that we tasted there in Crete was hands down far better!
Are you fond of Greek oven bakes?
Then you should also try out another Greek classic oven dish: a classic moussaka! A Greek oven bake with fried eggplant, ground meat, sliced potatoes and again a creamy bechamel white sauce!
Greek oven baked pastitio...
- 1 ½ lb macaroni (675 g)
- 14 oz lamb or beef mince (400 g)
- 9 oz canned chopped tomatoes (250 g)
- ⅓ cup chicken stock (80 ml)
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 1 medium onion peeled
- 2 cups whole milk (480 ml)
- 1 egg yolk
- 3 garlic cloves peeled
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- olive oil
Chop the onion and garlic finely in a blender. Pour some olive oil in a large non-stick pan and place it over medium heat until hot. Then add the onion mix.
Stir and cook gently for 5 minutes until the onion starts to soften. Then add the mince to the pan.
Break up the big lumps and stir. Cook for 6 minutes until the mince is brown and crumbly. Then add the canned tomatoes and chicken stock. Season with a dash of pepper, salt and half of the ground cinnamon.
Stir the ingredients well. Simmer the mince sauce gently for another 7 minutes. Then check the seasoning and add extra pepper, salt or cinnamon. The tomato sauce should be rather be thick. In the meantime bring a pan of water to a rolling boil and add the macaroni. Cook until the macaroni is tender and drain. Then transfer the cooked macaroni back to the pan and put aside until later.
Add the butter to a small saucepan and place it over medium heat until melted. Then add the plain flour.
Whisk firmly into a wet crumble and turn the heat low. Let the flour bake gently for about 2 minutes. Stir regularly. Turn the heat up again and add a little milk.
Stir well into a sticky mixture. Then gradually add the remaining milk. Stir well to break up any flour lumps. Once the milk is incorporated, let the sauce simmer and thicken. Stir regularly. Then add the egg yolk.
Stir quickly and season with a dash of pepper, salt and the remaining cinnamon to taste. Then add half of the sauce to the cooked macaroni and stir.
- Transfer half of the macaroni to a buttered baking dish and press it down a little. Season with a little pepper and salt.
Top with the tomato sauce and cover this layer with the remaining macaroni. Finish with white sauce.
Make sure to cover the pasta well with the sauce. Bake the dish in a preheated over at 356°F (180°) for about 30 minutes. Keep an eye on the white sauce: it will start to turn brown. Cover with a piece of tinfoil if necessary. Once the pastitio is baked, remove it from the oven, cut it up into squares and serve hot.