Nikki’s Perfect Pastitsio
Total TimePrep: 45 min. Bake: 50 min.
- 2-1/2 cups uncooked penne pasta
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1-1/2 pounds ground sirloin
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
- BECHAMEL SAUCE:
- 1/2 cup butter, cubed
- 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 4 cups 2% milk
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Toss with butter; add grated Parmesan cheese. Transfer to a greased 13x9-in. baking dish.
- Preheat oven to 350°. In a large skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat 8-10 minutes or until beef is no longer pink, breaking beef into crumbles; drain. Add garlic; cook 2 minutes longer. Stir in tomato sauce, salt and cinnamon; heat through. Spoon over pasta. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese.
- In a large saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour, salt and pepper until smooth; gradually add milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir 1-2 minutes or until thickened.
- In a small bowl, whisk a small amount of hot mixture into eggs; return all to pan, whisking constantly. Bring to a gentle boil; cook and stir 2 minutes. Pour over beef mixture. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
- Bake, covered, 20 minutes. Bake, uncovered, 30-40 minutes longer or until golden brown.
Test Kitchen Tips
Nutrition Facts1 piece: 332 calories, 18g fat (10g saturated fat), 98mg cholesterol, 718mg sodium, 24g carbohydrate (6g sugars, 1g fiber), 20g protein.
Oct 31, 2019
Delicious! My family loved it. I was about to say that I followed this recipe to a T, but now I realize I used an entire box (1 lb.) of penne pasta, not the 2.5 cups dry stated (which might be around 1 lb.; I dunno). Also, I used tomato puree (that comes in a bottle) rather than canned tomato sauce, but I think that's basically the same thing so I don't think it qualifies as a deviation from the original recipe. ANYWAY, after reading a few reviews I was really worried there would be too much bechamel, but in the end everything fit perfectly to the tippy-top of my 13 x 9 baking dish (even with the full 1 lb. of penne). No Sauce Left Behind. (As with making any bechamel, you have to let it sit a bit after cooking so that it can thicken even more. I saw one reviewer say the bechamel was "custardy" after adding the egg, but you won't have that problem if you follow the directions and temper the eggs first by gradually whisking in a couple tablespoons of the warm bechamel into the eggs before adding the eggs to the balance of bechamel.) All that aside, the "45 minute prep time" is spot on, but I found it really fun to make this dish. My husband requested baked ziti, and I wanted to try a new recipe, so after some clicking around I discovered pastitsio, which I'd never heard of. It's not exactly baked ziti, but it was baked ziti-ish enough for the husband to concede to try it--and he loved it! I will definitely, definitely make this again--tho maybe next time I will use ground lamb instead of beef (just to see what that's like) and grate some nutmeg into the bechamel. Thank you for a great, thoughtful recipe that is going right into my recipe files! :)
Feb 15, 2019
Excellent recipe! I used regular elbow macaroni (pasta) instead of penne, because that's what I had on hand. A mixture of half ground beef / ground pork worked beautifully, again, because that's what I had on hand! (I guess I didn't plan very well). Anyway - my nieces and nephews LOVED the pastitsio. None of them had tried it before, so there was no comparing it to previous experiences. Like other reviewers, next time I will reduce the amount of bechamel sauce by half - more personal preference than anything else. I made the meat sauce the day before which helped with meal prep timing. Thanks for a good recipe.
Nov 7, 2017
Made it and was good except it needed seasoning in tomato meat mixture like oregano. It made alot for two so froze half of it and having for dinner tonight.
Jul 10, 2017
I just ordered pastitsio from our favorite Greek tavern and had to make a copycat at home. This tasted pretty darn close! The only thing I will change is reduce the bechamel by half. It makes SO much that it did not form together very well - it almost took on a custard-y look and feel under the top layer, which browned nicely (although it still tasted unreal). You have to add the 1/2 t cinnamon; otherwise it's not pastitsio! The flavor is subtle yet unmistakable. And I suggest making the noodles and meat one night and the bechamel the next - not only is it time consuming, it bakes for 40 minutes too!
Dec 31, 2016
A great dish---for all occasions. A keeper.
Dec 30, 2016
Made it tonight for the family. I was out so I was not sure how they liked it because they did not seem to eat much. My daughter liked it but felt there was too much cinnamon. She did not say how my SIL liked it. My husband said it was good and he did not notice the cinnamon. I enjoyed it reheated when I came home.. I will put it on the monthly rotation. Gave it the 4 stars because of daughter's comment.
Nov 20, 2016
To Appy Girl, could you please provide amount of ingredients you used to scale this dish down for 2? Thanks so much
Aug 9, 2016
The amount of bechamel sauce in this recipe is WAY too much for just 2-1/2 cups of pasta. I used a pound bag of pasta and it was perfect. I did cut back on some of the parmesan, using only 1-1/2 cups total (1/2 c up in the pasta, 1/2 cup on top of meat sauce, 1/2 cup as topping) and it was plenty. . As others have noted, it wouldn't taste like pastitsio without nutmeg in the bechamel sauce—I added about 1/4 t. I had to use a larger baking pan, and baked it for 1-1/4 hours to get it bubbly in the middle and the top golden brown. I also think the recipe should say it should sit for about 15 minutes once taken out of the oven; otherwise when served it all falls apart and doesn't present like the tidy slice in the photo. My family loved it!
May 6, 2016
rmbarr I agree that you need a touch of nutmeg in the Bechamel it really adds and gentles the flavor of the cinnamon. This is my husbands favorite dish
Jan 24, 2016
After making the noodles and the meat sauce, I thought to myself, "no way does this need 4 cups of Bechamel sauce". So, I halved that portion of the recipe, and I thought it was just right. It might not have been perfect to a Greek person, but we thought it was delicious. EDIT: The second time I made this recipe a few months later, I made it exactly as written. EXCELLENT!