Pastitsio is a prime example that comfort food exists in every culture. Pasta, cheese and a subtly sweet tomato-lamb sauce give this dish its signature flavor.
1 1/2 cups macaroni pasta, cooked according to package directions
6 tablespoons butter - divided use
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 pound ground lamb
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced or ready-cut tomatoes, drained, liquid reserved
1/4 cup tomato paste
4 large eggs - divided use
1/3 cup soft bread crumbs
- Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
- For White Sauce: Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over medium heat; stir in flour. Gradually whisk in milk and cook until thickened, stirring frequently. Add Parmesan cheese and stir until melted; cover and remove from the heat.
- For Filling: In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add lamb, onion and garlic and cook until browned, stirring occasionally; drain. Stir in oregano, salt, cinnamon, pepper and nutmeg. Combine reserved tomato liquid with tomato paste and stir into lamb mixture. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes; stir in tomatoes, continue to cook until heated thoroughly, then set aside.
- Combine 1 egg yolk and about one fourth of white sauce in a mixing bowl; set aside. Grease a 9-inch square dish; set aside.
- Beat remaining egg white and eggs with remaining white sauce; gently stir in cooked macaroni. Spread half into prepared dish. Spoon lamb mixture on top; top with remaining macaroni mixture. Drizzle the egg yolk/white sauce mixture on top.
- Melt remaining tablespoon of butter in a small bowl in the microwave. Stir in soft bread crumbs and toss until evenly coated. Sprinkle over top of casserole.
- Bake for 45 minutes, then reduce the heat to 325°F (160°C) and bake an additional 15 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.
Makes 6 servings.