Recipe 5 ... Pastitsio - Andy Harris

A few years ago, I decided that I wanted to learn how to cook Greek, strange you might say, because my background is Greek, but I wanted to do "Greek" properly.  So at the time I purchased heaps of Greek cookbooks.

A good book full of Greek recipes

One of those books was "Modern Greek" by Andy Harris.  I had never heard of Andy Harris prior to getting this book and I haven't heard since but I do have to say I love the recipes and the authenticity of the food here!

Andy Harris's version
A family favourite of ours is the Pastitsio, I guess you could call it the Greek equivalent of the Italian lasagne.  There is not a Greek out there who doesn't have a family version of this dish.  The components are simple.  Pasta, meat sauce and béchamel/white sauce... I know this recipe off by heart but it's still nice once in a while to have follow the instructions to the letter, also many of my friends have asked me for this recipe....

So here it is:


For the Pasta:

500gm of Ziti (or Penne or any thick tube pasta)
2 eggs lightly beaten
3 tablespoons grated kefalotiri or parmesan cheese
1 cup bechamel sauce

Some of the ingredients

For the Meat Sauce:

4 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium sized onions
2 garlic clove
3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley (optional in my opinion)
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 sprig fresh thyme
1kg lean minced beef
125ml red wine
1 x 400g can diced tomato
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan and saute onions, garlic and thyme until softened.  Set aside to a separate bowl.  Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the saucepan and saute the minced beef until browned.  Add the red wine, tomatoes, tomato paste, cinnamon, bay leaves, salt and pepper, stirring occasionally and simmer for about 45 minutes until mixture is nice and thick.

My bechamel sauce thickening up!

For the Béchamel Sauce:

1 litre milk
2 bay leaves
110g butter
120g plain flour
45g kefalotiri or parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Heat milk and bay leaves over a very low heat.  In another saucepan melt butter, then add the flour and whisk for about 5 minutes until combined.  Slowly ladle the hot milk into the flour mixture (discarding the bay leaves) and whisk constantly until the sauce thickens.  Remove the saucepan from the heat and, when slightly cooled, stir in the cheese and nutmeg.

Out of the oven...

For the Pastitsio:

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celsius.  Boil water in a large saucepan add pasta and simmer cook pasta until cooked through.  Drain in a colander and transfer to a large bowl.  While pasta is still hot add the beaten eggs, cheese and 1 cup béchamel sauce.  Toss the pasta until well coated.

Get  rectangular baking dish (23 x 33 cm) and brush bottom and sides with melted butter.  Spread a third of the pasta evenly in the dish and cover half of the meat sauce.  Repeat the third of pasta and the remaining meat sauce.  Add the last of the pasta over the top and spoon the béchamel sauce, smoothing it over the top.  Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and cheese.  Bake for 40 minutes until the top is golden brown!  Leave to rest for 10 minutes before serving.  Serves 6 to 8.

My version the béchamel sauce oozing down...

We had friends over last night and they absolutely loved it!  I made a couple of omissions (ie I forgot!) like the breadcrumbs on the top and I just put the cheese.  I prefer to use kefalotiri rather than parmesan as it is more authentic Greek.  Also I don't put so much parsley in the meat sauce, I just use the oregano alone.  These are some modifications that I do over the recipe.  But the results are amazing.

This is a messy dish to make with heaps of cleaning up, I find it takes me a while to totally make and clean up so it's not for the after-work-weeknight-dinner!

Great dish and a must for any lover of Greek cuisine!




  1. more family recipes please!! I know that's not the blog intention, but do it!!!

    1. I will definitely do that as many have asked me... I am having a couple of people over tomorrow night and will post the whole meal! xx


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