Patricia Conte has a background in marketing communications and works as an independent writer. In 2010, she was given the opportunity to combine her love of writing and food when she started as a contributing writer for the Food channel...
This easy twist on pastitsio means you can enjoy the Greek comfort food on a weeknight
Traditional foods are divine (they’re favorites for a reason), but there’s nothing wrong with mixing things up a bit. This Greek-inspired pastitsio doesn’t stray too far from the norm, but it’s fun to shake things up once in a while.
Have you ever heard of pastitsio? Think Greek flavors meet Italian lasagna. It’s a baked dish that includes tube-style pasta instead of long, wide lasagna noodles. Mixed in you’ll find meat (usually lamb), tomatoes, seasonings and a thick and creamy béchamel sauce for the topping. Sounds great, right? It is!
I took a tiny detour from tradition and created Greek skillet pastitsio on the stovetop instead of baking it. It’s so easy to make and so delicious. Pastitsio usually includes ground lamb, but I used ground beef instead. And rather than a thick topping of béchamel, I made the creamy sauce and mixed it in with the other ingredients. I think you'll love this dish any night of the week.
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper, plus extra to season
1-1/2 cups beef broth
2 cups water
Fresh torn parsley, for garnish (optional)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1-1/4 cups warm milk
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
To a skillet over medium heat, add the ground beef. Cook, breaking it up with a spoon, for 5 – 7 minutes or until browned. Transfer to a dish, and wipe the skillet clean.
Add the oil to the skillet. When the oil is hot, add the onion, and cook for 3 – 4 minutes or until it begins to soften. Add the garlic, and cook for 30 seconds or so. Add the tomato paste, and cook, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes.
Add the ground beef to the skillet along with the wine. Cook for several minutes or until the wine has cooked off.
Add the uncooked pasta to the skillet, followed by the tomatoes in their juices, the beef broth and the cinnamon, nutmeg, oregano, salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine.
Cover, and cook, stirring occasionally and scraping up the bottom of the pan, for about 10 minutes. Add 1 cup of water, cover, and continue cooking for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Check the pasta. You’ll likely need more water and to cook it for a bit longer. Use the remaining water.
During the last 5 minutes of cooking, start to make the béchamel sauce.
To a small saucepan over medium heat, add the butter. When the butter has melted, add the flour, and whisk continually for 2 – 3 minutes. You don’t want the mixture to turn dark, so hold the pan off the heat for a moment while whisking, if needed. Add the warm milk, whisking continually. Bring the mixture to a boil, and remove from the heat.
Add a bit of salt and pepper to the mixture along with the Parmesan cheese. Mix to combine.
Add the béchamel to the skillet, and toss it into the pasta mixture.