Recipe: Pastitsio

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Priyam’s Kitchen for Kids has a new recipe for you to try. This week she is sharing with our readers how to make Pastitsio which is Greek style baked pasta.

 

By Priyam Sachdev

I am obsessing over a very hearty dish that I would like to bring to you today all the way from Athens, Greece.

“Pastitsio” or “Pastichio” is a greek style baked pasta usually prepared for a large family gathering. I can’t find the proper words to describe this dish so let me put it very simply… It has a lot of meat, a lot of cheese and a lot of pasta put together to create a jovial combination. I was fortunate to have been invited by a friend, Ionna in Athens, who taught me how to prepare this dish and I must say it’s loved by kids and adults alike. Give it a try, this recipe serves six!

To make this process less complicated, I have separated the recipe into 3 parts. First we will prepare the meat sauce, then the béchamel sauce and finally the assembly and baking. Let’s begin.

Meat Sauce

What you will need: 

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 white onions (finely chopped)
  • 6 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
  • 6 large juicy tomatoes (pureed)
  • 500gms ground chicken/beef/lamb/pork
  • 2 tbsp cinnamon powder
  • 2 tbsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • black pepper (adjust accordingly)
  • pasta (any tubular pasta. I used penne)

How to:

  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan. Fry the garlic and onion until transparent.
  2. Followed by the ground meat. Let this cook through on high.
  3. Add the cinnamon powder, oregano, sugar, salt and black pepper to taste, and stir together.
  4. Pour in the tomato puree and simmer for 30-40minutes.
  5. Meanwhile cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water for about 10 minutes until al dente.(i.e. just tender but still firm to bite) Don’t worry about giving this to younger children as you will be baking it in the oven for almost an hour and it will be a lot softer.
  6. Drain pasta and set aside.

Béchamel Sauce

What you will need: 

  • 2 cups full fat milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 100gms unsalted butter
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour (diluted in ½ cup water)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup mozzarella (optional)
  • pinch of salt and black pepper

How to:

  1. In a medium saucepan heat milk and cream together until it’s warm (do not bring to a boil). Set aside.
  2. In another pan, on low heat, melt butter and add diluted flour. Whisk continuously to form a thick batter for about 2-3minutes.
  3. Pour in the warm milk and cream a little at a time, whisking vigorously.
  4. Once the batter is thick and smooth (without lumps) turn off heat and pour in the beaten eggs (also little by little) as you continue to whisk.
  5. Add salt, pepper and ¾ parmesan that you prepared.

 

Assembly

  1. Preheat the oven to 175° C/350 ° F.
  2. Mix a bit of the meat sauce with the pasta and spread the pasta in the bottom of a large shallow baking dish.
  3. Then spread a thick layer of the meat sauce.
  4. Top it with another thick layer of the béchamel prepared.
  5. Sprinkle the remaining cheeses evenly on the surface.
  6. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown and bubbling. Allow to stand for 10minutes before serving. If you like, garnish each serving with parsley.

Enjoy!

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