Have you ever had Greek Pastitsio? Oh man, it’s a Killer delish. Seriously, KILLER!!! It’s wonderful comfort food, but special enough, to make for company. Ina Garten, the rock star, has updated an amazing Greek classic and made it, in my humble opinion, even better. She substituted the standard tube pasta usually found in Pastitsio with small shells that amazingly catch and hold the meat sauce. I think that is genius! The Greek yogurt and the addition of some of the meat sauce makes the bechamel  even more fab-u-lous-o!

About the spices; I love the amount of cinnamon but, if you’re not used to this type of seasoning in savory dishes, you might consider using less cinnamon. Again, I think the amount of cinnamon is PERFECT and is what you’d expect when having Pastitsio.

One important thing to be careful with this dish is that you only use 3/4 of a pound of dried pasta. This seems so simple, but, when you’ve been working on this making two different sauces, it’s easily forgotten. The sauce quantities work best with just 3/4 pounds.  Also, this really needs a 3 inch deep baking dish.

This dish isn’t difficult to make but it is a bit time consuming and honestly, you use a lot of pans. I’m telling you it’s totally worth it. You can make and assemble the casserole then refrigerate it overnight. Be sure to bring it to room temperature before sticking it in the preheated oven. I also froze the leftovers (that I had baked) in individual quart freezer Ziplocs and they reheated pretty darn well. This recipe makes a fairly large amount so if you’re cooking for just a few people you can divide it in half and pour it into two smaller baking dishes. You could even freeze one of the baking dishes without baking it first.




By November 28, 2012



  1. For the meat sauce, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large pot. Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes. Add the beef  and saute over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until it's no longer pink, crumbling it with the back of wooden spoon. Drain off any excess liquid, add the wine, and cook for 2 more minutes. Add the garlic, cinnamon, oregano, thyme, and cayenne, and continue cooking over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 40 to 45 minutes. Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. For the bechamel, heat the milk and cream together in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until simmering. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly for 2 minutes. Pour the warm milk and cream mixture into the butter and flour mixture, whisking constantly. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, until smooth and thick. Add the nutmeg,  and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Stir in 3/4 cup of Parmesan, 1/2 cup of the tomato and meat sauce, and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Stir in the eggs and yogurt. Taste bechamel for seasoning. Add salt to taste (you may not need it because the cheese may add enough salt)  and set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water until al dente. Don't over-cook because the pasta will later be baked. Drain and set aside.
  5. Add the pasta to the meat and tomato sauce, and pour the mixture into a baking dish. Spread the bechamel evenly to cover the pasta and sprinkle with the remaining 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Bake for 1 hour, until golden brown and bubbly. Set aside for at least 10 minutes and serve hot.

[donotprint]Source: Very Slightly Adapted From Ina Garten  [/donotprint]

10 Responses to Pastitsio

  1. bellini

    Yay for Greek comfort food. Using the shells is pure genius to catch the sauce.

  2. Velva

    Pastitsio is an amazing dish. I have never attempted to prepare it. Now, that you said Ina Garten has a version, I think I will have to try my hand at it.


    P.S. Thanks for the reminder about the pasta quantity-it is real easy just to throw some extra pasta in the pot.

    • Kathleen

      Thanks so much Rhonda. I over the moon excited about it!

  3. Sarah

    I made an easier version of this for the first time last month when I found it in a new cookbook, and I was seriously surprised at how much I enjoyed it! I thought the cinnamon would completely ruin the dish, but instead it was an awesome flavor boost. Definitely a keeper recipe.

    • Kathleen

      Hmmm…maybe you could share that recipe!!! When you have the time, seriously, you have to try Ina’s recipe it’s so incredible I can’t even believe it!

  4. Megan

    What size baking dish did you use? Is a 13×9 big enough?

    • Kathleen

      Yes I used a 9X13 but the dish I used was 3 inches tall so it accommodated more volume

  5. Kate Johnson

    I just found your blog. Pastitsio is a fave of mine and this version looks amazing!

    • Kathleen

      Hi Kate. It’s one of my favorites too!!! Hope you try it 🙂

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