To Die For Greek Pastitsio (baked pasta) with Homemade Bechamel Sauce
Baked Pasta with Lamb, Feta, and Olives from Sunny Greece
Posted By Savita
Pastitsio is a Mediterranean version of Italian Lasagna. A complete one pot meal that has all elements to make a hearty family dinner. Ground lamb, pasta and veggies with layers of homemade béchamel and tomatoes, then topped with lemon pepper breadcrumbs and baked to aromatic perfection. Pasta and vegetables become so scrumptious soaked in lamb, tomatoes and creamy béchamel(Bechamel) sauce that once its out of oven, it is totally irresistible.
Are you considering no-mess and no-cleanup, one-pot meal for Memorial Day lunch/dinner? Then look no further!!
Pastitsio fits right in this criteria. Easy to make, very flavorful, and above all pastitsio offers everything - meat, pasta, creamy sauce, veggies and bread in one mouthwatering dish. How good does that sound?
I tasted Pastitsio first time in a Greek Restaurant. I was so much impressed with flavor, and taste of this comforting Greek classic that I decided to try it at home.
- 4 White Bread (slices, toasted each side for 2 minute in skillet, not charred but partly brown)
- 3 tbsp Cilantro (or parsley, rough chopped)
- 1 tsp Black Pepper
- 1 tbsp Lemon (fresh grated lemon zest)
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
- 3 Cup Milk (low-fat milk or whole milk)
- Salt and Black Pepper (as per taste)
- 1/4 tsp Nutmeg
- 3 tbsp Unsalted Butter
- 3 tbsp All-Purpose Flour
- 1/3 lbs Pasta (I have used Lemon-Pepper Linguine/Linguini)
- 1/2 lbs Lamb (ground lamb)
- 1/2 Cup Yellow Onion (small diced)
- 1 tsp Oregano
- 1/2 tbsp Garlic (about 3 cloves of garlic, fine diced)
- 1/2 Cup Feta Cheese
- 1/2 Cup Artichokes (4-6 pieces of artchoke hearts, sliced in half)
- 2 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 Cup Tomatoes (8 ounce can of tomatoes)
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1/2 Cup Cilantro (chopped parsley or cilantro)
- 1/2 Cup Carrots (small diced, optional)
- 1/4 Cup Jalapeno (chopped pickled jalapenos or use peperoncini)
- 1/4 Cup Olives (pitted and sliced)
- 2 Tomatoes (fresh ripe roma tomatoes, small diced)
Bread Crumb Topping
Pastitsio pasta and lamb
Homemade Béchamel Sauce - Heat milk in a pot, when bubbles start to appear remove from heat. In an another heavy bottom sauce pan, cook flour with 3 tbsp butter until flour is cooked but not brown, add warm milk slowly and keep whisking so that flour does not form lumps in milk. Keep stirring until milk is thick and leaves a smooth, thin coating on spoon (about 20 minutes). Season with salt and pepper to taste and 1/4 tsp of nutmeg. Yields about 2.5 Cups
Additional Notes:Skip this step if using store bought jar of béchamel.
Seasoned Homemade Breadcrumbs - Toast the day old white bread slices (no need to remove the edges) for 2 minute each side. (or until its lite brown toasted but not charred). In a food processor, combine all bread crumb ingredients and torn slices of bread.
Additional Notes:Skip this step if using store bought bread crumbs
- 3. Pulse it for 1 minute to make fine bread crumbs.
- 4. Cook Pasta - Set oven to pre-heat at 425 F. Boil a pot of water, season with salt and then cook pasta 3 minutes less then the package suggested time. I boiled lemon-pepper linguine for 5 minutes, 3 minute less than suggested 8 minute cook time. Drain pasta, transfer to a wide bowl. Toss it with 1 tbsp. oil and set aside.
- 5. Cook Lamb - Heat 1 tbsp. oil in a pan. Add chopped onion and sauté until soft (2-3 minutes). Now add ground lamb and break with back of spatula to small bite size pieces while cooking. When all raw color disappears, add garlic, small diced carrots (if using), oregano and salt and continue cooking for 3 more minute. Remove from heat and mix in 1 cup canned tomatoes with juice (crushed, if canned tomatoes are whole.)
- 6. Assemble - In a wide, oven proof baking dish, add 1/2 cup béchamel. Top it with 1/2 linguine, then layer 1/2 of ground lamb and tomato mixture evenly.
- 7. Assemble - Spread 1/2 cup béchamel over the lamb. Then add an even layer of all veggies - diced fresh tomatoes, olives, pickled jalapeno, cilantro, carrots(if using). Top it with remaining linguine and then all lamb. Pour and spread all remaining béchamel evenly over the lamb. Now spread seasoned bread crumb on top fully covering all ingredients.
- 8. Bake in pre-heated oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until top is golden brown and crisp. I baked it for exact 35 minutes for this golden crust.