Brian and I both really like Greek food and, whenever we find ourselves in a Greek restaurant, we peruse the menu with great interest. We point out this dish and that as delicious choices and make plans to share different options. And then, we both order pastitsio. We love pastitsio! If you've never had the pleasure, pastitsio is a lasagna-like dish with layers of noodles, spiced meat sauce and bechamel topping. It doesn't taste anything like typical lasagna, though. Interesting and mysterious spices waft up from beneath the creamy sauce and all you can think to yourself is that this is Greek comfort food.
Pastitsio and I started to think that maybe it wasn't overly complicated after all. I compared her recipe to that of The Barefoot Contessa and the two were somewhat different. In the end, I combined my favorite aspects of both to create my own little spin.
I surprised Brian with it and he was eager to dig in and see how it compared to the restaurant version. He tasted, got a big smile on his face and proceeded to wolf down nearly the whole tray. Definitely blog worthy, he declared between bites, and then asked when were having this again. Enjoy!
1 lb. tube style pasta such as penne, cooked according to package directions
1 lb. Lean ground beef
1 Onion, peeled and diced
4 Cloves garlic, peeled and minced
3/4 Teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 Teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 Teaspoon cinnamon
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/4 Cup red wine
1 Can (15 oz. ) plain tomato sauce
Salt & pepper to taste
1 Clove garlic, peeled and minced
4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 Cup all purpose flour
4 Cups whole milk
1/2 Cup plain Greek style yogurt
1 Cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Salt & pepper to taste
In a separate large pan, make the bechamel sauce by melting the butter and adding the garlic. Cook for a minute on very low heat, making sure the garlic does not brown. Add the flour and whisk together to combine. Add the milk and continue whisking, on medium low heat, until the mixture begins to thicken (about 10 minutes). Whisk in the Parmesan cheese and season to taste. Set aside to cool.
When the bechamel has cooled, stir in the yogurt and eggs. Note that if your bechamel is still a little warm, temper the eggs first by placing them in a small bowl, adding a small amount of bechamel and whisking until combined. Then add the eggs to the large pan of bechamel.
Assemble the dish by placing the beef/pasta mixture into a 9" x 13" baking pan and pouring the bechamel over it. Bake in a 350 degree oven for approximately 45 minutes or until the top is a light golden brown. Makes approximately 4 servings.