Pastichio, the Greek solution to Lasagna

Pastichio, the Greek solution to Lasagna

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Serves: 8-10 Cooking Time: 1 hr 30 min


  • 200 g Penne ( there is a traditional noodle if you want)
  • 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 medium finely chopped organic white onion
  • 4 finely chopped organic garlic cloves
  • 1 1/4 pounds grass fed organic ground beef
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 3 tsp Nutmeg
  • 2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp hot smoked paprika
  • Dash ground Cloves
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 28 oz drained canned chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp Ghee
  • 4 tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups warmed or room temperature organic whole or 2 % milk
  • Salt & Pepper



Boil a large part of salted water and cooked penne al dente


While the penne is cooking heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large pot and add onions to saute until translucent ( 5-6 minutes)


Remove and drain pasta, make sure you do not wash it off with water, leave in strainer to the side. Add garlic to meat sauce and saute for another 2 min.


Add salt & pepper to meat sauce along with cinnamon, 2 tbsp nutmeg, paprika, dash of ground cloves and quickly stir


Take the ground beef and start to drop it into the onion mixture in pieces, cook the ground beef and make sure its broken up and no clumps form for about 5 min or until cook through and most liquid is evaporated (if that's just not happening, add 1 tbsp flour to the mix and stir)


Add drained canned tomatoes, tomato paste and bay leaf. Stir and lower heat to simmer for 10 minutes.


Take the pan or pot you will use to assemble the Pastichio and place 1 tbsp of oil on the bottom. Place penne along with salt & pepper and give it a stir so the penne has a bit of oil on it and forms an even layer.


Top penne with the meat sauce (remove bay leaf) . Grab a clean pot to make the bechamel and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.


In the pot heat up the Ghee and add the 4 tbsp of flour. Stir with a wooden spoon to cook off the flour taste (1-2 min), careful not to burn the flour


Trade the spoon to a whisk and slowly whisk in 1 cup of milk at a time as the sauce thickens ( its much thicker than the French bechamel), when 2nd cup of milk is added, add the remaining 1 tbsp Nutmeg


Continue whisking sauce, getting all the sides of the pot for about 8 min, you want a spoon to come out without dripping sauce.


Add the final layer of the bechamel sauce to the top of the meat and bake for 30 minutes (optional to incorporate bechamel with grated white cheese or top with breadcrumbs)


Remove and let cool at least 15 minutes before slicing


If using the traditional Greek pasta, use 1/2 of the package and cook a minute or two less than manufactures instructions so it is al dente.

Confession, I am not a fan of this dish. I have never met a Greek that doesn’t dream about it, and since I am only 1/2 Greek I caulk that up as my excuse. If your more of the quiet type, and happen to have a bunch of Greeks, or just two, coming for dinner tonight, this recipe is for you. They may stay relatively quiet for at least 1 serving, or about 3 1/2 minutes. I did, however, inherit the affinity for the  Formula One eating style adopted by many Greeks, working on that…

That being off my chest, despite my lack of love for this dish, it happens to be one of my best, even by my standards. Its prepared in 3 separate layers, one pasta, one meat sauce, and one bechamel sauce, then cooked all together in the oven for 30 minutes. Every Greek household has their own Pastichio recipe, some add breadcrumbs to the top of the bechamel sauce, or an egg and cheese to it. In Greece, they use a particular pasta of which I didn’t have on hand so I used a gluten free penne. Traditionally, it is also cooked in a huge oven rack size baking dish but I am preferable to a deep quart cooking dish, so it resembles the Leaning Tower of Pisa when served.  Another great attribute to Pastichio is that its one of those rare dishes that it better as leftovers. Its also a great dish to prepare Sunday morning so you’ll have it for the week, and you can skip the gym since you will be breaking a sweat cooking. Serve each piece of Pastichio with a slice of feta and a light romaine side salad.

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