I’m back. Did you miss me? It’s only been a couple of weeks but I’ve had my feet in the pool and my face in the sun and it’s been bloody lovely. I have been spending time researching whilst in Greece, and by researching I mean eating fried cheese and drinking litres of rosé. Greek food is so underrated; their ingredients are fresh, wholesome and the dishes are rich and tasty. And I’m sure this is not just the Ouzo talking. So today, I have made enough Pastitsio for the whole of Greece and I’m sharing it with you.
Pastitsio is basically just a Greek style macaroni based lasagna. The meat sauce is rich and thick, the macaroni is tossed in butter and parmesan and then the whole dish is finished with a thick, egg enriched bechamel. We didn’t actually eat this in a restaurant in Porto Heli, but my friend and I did make this huge dish in our villa for our families to enjoy. We used local produce and it was inhaled by every single sun kissed guest. Back in London I’ve forked up this Greek-ish dish using a Taste of Home, as my guide. And it makes the mother of all portions, enough for at least 8 to 10 hungry family members. Or in my case, enough for 3 men and a hungover 49 year old.
I am so in love with Greek food, this Pastitsio may be just the tip of my Eastern Mediterranean iceberg. Watch this space for stuffed vine leaves, Avgolemono and octopus, time and another trip to Greece to research, dependent.
This recipe will feature on Lucy Loves later this week.
Serves 8 to 10, maybe more
You will just need pans and a large 33cm x 23cm deep baking tin or dish
500g macaroni, or penne would be ok too
250g parmesan, grated
750g beef mince
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
680g jar passata
1/2 teaspoon salt
Generous grind of black pepper
1 tablespoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, optional
100g plain flour
1 litre milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
A good grinding black pepper
A good grating nutmeg
Serve with salad or a green vegetable
Pre heat your oven 160 degrees fan assisted and butter or oil your large baking dish or tray.
Take a large pan and heat over a high flame. Add the mince along with the finely chopped onion and garlic and cook for around 10 minutes or until the mince is cooked through. Pour in the passata, oregano, salt and pepper, sugar and optional cinnamon. Stir well and simmer for another 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave for a moment.
Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet then drain. Stir through the butter and 100g of the grated parmesan. Tip this into your buttered dish and level.
Pour over the meat sauce and sprinkle with another 100g grated parmesan.
For the bechamel sauce take a medium sauce pan and heat over a low heat. Melt the butter then whisk in the flour. Keep whisking and gradually add the milk, a little at a time, until smooth. Simmer for a couple of minutes until thickened and season with salt and pepper and the grating of nutmeg.
Take a small bowl and whisk the two eggs. Spoon over 4 to 5 tablespoons of the hot white sauce on and whisk again. Add this mixture back into the pan, whisk, and cook for a further minute or two.
Pour the sauce over the top of the dish and smooth to cover. Sprinkle with the remaining parmesan and then bake for around 40 minutes or until golden and bubbling. Leave to sit for 15 minutes before serving with some salad or green vegetable of your choice. Any leftovers will keep perfectly in the fridge for 2 to 3 days.