This recipe for traditional Pastitsio (Greek Lasagna) was given to me by a Greek family who has had this recipe in their family recipe collection for a very long time.
Pastitsio is a favorite traditional Greek dinner recipe. It’s a Greek version of lasagna- characterized by a white and creamy bechamel sauce used in place of marinara and a hint of cinnamon. And I think you’ll find that this is one of the most delicious dinner recipes you’ve ever had!
How do you make Pastitsio?
It’s layered just like traditional Italian lasagna. The layers are as follows: noodles tossed in egg are topped with Greek cheese, then a generous layer of meat sauce, then more noodles and cheese, and then a layer of the bechamel sauce and more cheese!
It’s baked for 40 to 45 minutes, blending all of those layers together to create a fabulous meal.
The best tip I received about making Pastitsio is to make it early in the morning (or the night before), and then warm up individual slices when ready to eat. You certainly don’t have to make it this way, just know that the pasta dish will be more “loose” and will not likely cut into neat squares as you see in the photos here. It will be tremendously delicious either way you decide to make it!
I do love how the layers are clearly seen in the slices. They’re a little mesmerizing.
My family LOVES, LOVES, LOVES this recipe. The bechamel sauce is a welcome change over the usual marinara, the hint of cinnamon in the meat layer is an interesting addition, and the Greek cheese connecting all of the layers is delicious! Authentic Greek recipes are the absolute best!
Watch the video showing you how to make this recipe, then print out the recipe and make it at home.
Pastitsio (Greek Lasagna)
This is truly a unique dinner recipe that is very different than traditional lasagna!
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 quart whole milk, warmed until hot
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 3 large eggs
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 2 pounds 90% lean ground beef
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 pound ziti pasta
- 3 large eggs, beaten
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 12 to 16 ounces Kasseri or Kefalotiri cheese, grated (see notes below)
PREPARE THE BECHAMEL SAUCE:
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the flour and then gradually whisk in the hot milk. Cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is smooth and thickened. Stir in the salt, remove from heat and let cool. When the sauce is lukewarm, whisk in the eggs. Set aside.
PREPARE THE MEAT LAYER:
Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a large skillet. Add the onions and saute until softened and golden. Crumble the beef into the skillet and cook with the onions until the beef is browned. Stir in the cinnamon, salt and pepper. Stir in the water and tomato paste, and simmer for 5 minutes. Set aside.
PREPARE THE PASTA LAYER:
Cook ziti according to directions on the package. Drain and rinse with cool water. When pasta has cooled down, stir in the beaten eggs and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt.
ASSEMBLE THE DISH:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a deep 9x13-inch casserole dish with nonstick spray. You really need a deep casserole dish for this recipe (deeper than the usual 9x13-inch pyrex).
Scoop half of the pasta into the bottom of your prepared dish. Sprinkle generously with cheese. Spoon on the meat mixture to create an even layer; sprinkle with another layer of cheese. Scoop the remaining pasta on top of the meat and sprinkle with more cheese! Top with the cream sauce and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
Bake 45 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and golden on top. Let sit at room temperature for at least 20 minutes before serving (but it is suggested that you refrigerate to let the layers set... and then warm up later to serve).
- *Whole Foods carries Kasseri cheese- or check a specialty cheese shop. If you have trouble locating Greek cheeses, you can sub Parmesan.
Disclosure: This post was originally part of a partnership with Universal Pictures.