Pastichio is a classic Greek baked pasta dish made with macaroni (or other) pasta, ground beef, béchamel sauce and grated cheese. It is the ultimate comfort food that always brings smiles or happy memories to the table . . . and the taste of home to our minds!
This traditional dish is easy to make and well worth your effort . . . even if a bit time consuming. It can be made ahead of time and freezes really well. Actually, I think it's better when re-heated and it's the ideal dish when cooking for a hungry crowd!
Pastichio - Baked Pasta dish recipe:
250 g (1/2lb) Pastichio macaroni (or other of choice)
6 tblsp butter
6 tblsp all-purpose flour
2 cups warm milk
1 tblsp butter or olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
½ kg (1 lb) lean ground beef
125g (5 oz) tin crushed peeled tomatoes
1 full tsp tomato paste
½ tsp cinnamon & pinch of nutmeg Coarsely ground pepper
3 eggs well beaten
¼ - ½ cup warm milk
Pinch of cinnamon & nutmeg (optional)
Salt & pepper, to taste
125 g grated Kefalotiri (or other Gruyere type of cheese)
In a big pan or pot, melt the butter and sweat the onions. Add the meat and brown a bit. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, spices and mix. Cook meat mixture, over low heat, for about 20 minutes.
While the meat is cooking, make béchamel sauce. In medium sized pot, melt butter over low heat. Stir in flour and mix. Slowly add milk and stir mixture with a wire whisk until it thickens. Set aside to cool.
Cook macaroni according to package instructions (about 8 minutes). Once cooked, drain and place in large bowl. Add meat mixture with half of the grated Kefalotiri cheese and toss carefully.
Place macaroni and meat mixture evenly into buttered baking dish or pan of choice.
In a mixer, beat the eggs until light and fluffy. Slowly add to cooled béchamel sauce while stirring gently. If too thick, add a little warm milk. Season with cinnamon & nutmeg (optional), as well as salt and pepper, to taste.
Pour the sauce over the macaroni & meat layer and sprinkle top with the remaining Kefalotiri cheese.
Place in hot oven (175 ̊ C) and bake for 45 - 60 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool a bit before serving as this will make it easier to cut.
Yield: 6 – 12 servings
Instead of ground meat, you can make this dish with coarsely chopped mushrooms or eggplants. Please note however, that it will be harder to cut so just serve it as a casserole, directly from the oven proof dish or pan.
©KaritasM – October 2019