Greek restaurants all over the world prepare Pasticcio (also known as Pastitsio or Pastichio). Not surprisingly, families and taverns all over Greece also make it. Most families follow a recipe passed on to them by a dear family member and then adjusted over time to satisfy personal taste.
What is Pasticcio?
Those unfamiliar with Pasticcio may wonder what is this romantic-sounding dish. The easiest way to describe it would be as a Greek version of lasagna bolognese. This is not entirely fair as a comparison.
In Greece, cooks customarily prepare Pasticcio with a special long and hollow pasta especially designed for this traditional Greek dish. Outside Greece, this special Pasticcio pasta is hard to find (see below for substitution suggestions). The meat sauce in Pasticcio contains fewer spices and vegetables than in Italian lasagna. Ok, Pasticcio and lasagna bolognese are different dishes, even if they may share a couple points in common.
Learning how to make Pasticcio from a friend
So let me return to my story about preparing an authentic Pasticcio recipe. As many of you know, I’ve been staying in Xanthi, Greece a few weeks during my Journey to Greece. An old university friend, Diamatis, and his family live in the city of Xanthi and generously offered me their home in a nearby village called Gerakas (population of 26 in 2001), in the Rodopi mountainside to the north of Xanthi. The views from the Gerakas home are breathtaking. Resting in this remote rustic setting has been exactly what I needed to rejuvenate.
My friend’s wife, Thomais, is a magnificent cook and has graciously offered to teach me how to make some of her favorite family recipes. So far, she has taught me three traditional Greek recipes: Pasticcio, Gemista (Greek Stuffed Peppers and Tomatoes) and Papoutsakia (“Little Shoes” or Stuffed Eggplant). Click on the above links to try these tasty authentic recipes brought from Thomais’ home to yours. You will certainly be rewarded for your effort.
Preparing Pasticcio requires three basic steps before assembling and placing the dish into the oven: preparing the meat sauce, then the pasta, and last the improved Béchamel sauce. None of these steps is very complicated or time consuming. In less than an hour the Pasticcio will be ready to place into the oven.
Pasticcio with a special long noodle with a hollow center (see photo above). Finding this exact noodle outside of Greece can be a challenge. If you can’t find it, I’d recommend buying Anna Long Ziti Pasta #19 or using penne pasta or lasagna sheets. The pasta should be semi-thick and long, if possible.
You can prepare this dish in advance and then bake it when it’s ready to be served. Or cook it almost all the way in the oven and then store it in the refrigerator until the next day to be reheated before serving.
Try this authentic Pasticcio dish soon and share this reliable recipe with your friends using the social media buttons below.
Authentic Greek Pasticcio
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Prepare this homestyle Pasticcio recipe to bring a touch of Greece to your family's table. Enjoy the authenticity and flavor of this traditional Greek dish.
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Put baking dish into the oven. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until lightly brown on top.
Serve and enjoy!
Kefalotyri is a hard salty yellow cheese made of milk from goat and/or sheep. You want this cheese to be aged at least 3 months so it can be grated. If you do not have Kefalotyri cheese, try substituting with a medium-aged Romano Pecorino or Manchego cheese. To me, these would be the most similar in taste.
The amount of flour you add will depend on how thick you want your Béchamel sauce. If you want a thicker, more consistent sauce, you may want to add about 10% to 20% more flour and increase the amount of butter accordingly.