Pastitsio is a dish for those special days when you have the time to prepare it. You need an hour for preparation, but it’s well worth it!
Pastitsio - also known as Makaronia tou Fournou (or oven-baked macaroni) – is ideal for parties and picnics as it’s enjoyed both hot and cold.
You can make a vegetarian Pastitsio by simply substituting the mincemeat with chopped onions, carrots, courgettes, grated white cabbage and other vegetables.
We both remember our mums using the white sauce as well as a béchamel sauce. We have opted for just the white sauce as the taste is still great but it’s easier to make and lighter.
1 packet (500g) thick macaroni (you can use the A Mezzani brand)
7 tbsp olive oil
2 vegetable stock cubes (optional)
1 big onion, finely chopped
1 big clove garlic
1 kg minced meat (half pork and half beef)
2 tsps dried mint, rubbed
1 tsp oregano
Freshly ground pepper
1 cup (250g) Pasata (pureed tomatoes)
1 tsp tomato paste
1 cup hot water
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
1 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 heaped tbsp butter
1 cup grated Halloumi cheese (Regato, dry anari, parmesa or other cheeses would also work).
For the white sauce:
8 cups milk
8 heaped tbsps corn flour
1 level tsp salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
3 heaped tsps butter
3 tbsps breadcrumbs
3 tbsps grated cheese
- Grease a shallow baking dish (33 x 38cm).
- Break the Macaroni in half (this will enable you to arrange the cooked pasta better in the baking dish later).
- Add Macaroni to a large pan of boiling water, together with 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp salt and 1 vegetable stock cube (optional). Boil, uncovered, until al dente.
- Drain and rinse under cold water. Drain well and put aside in a bowl.
- Add 1 tbsp butter to the pasta, 3/4 cup of your grated halloumi, the beaten egg and 1tsp dry mint. Mix well and set aside.
- Heat the rest of your oil in a large frying pan; add your chopped onion and garlic and cook until soft.
- Add the mince and cook until well browned. Add the pasata and the tomato paste, the sugar, oregano, dried mint, cinnamon, the stock cube dissolved in 1 cup of hot water, the salt and the freshly ground black pepper. Towards the end, add the parsley and remove from the heat.
- Dissolve your corn flour in 1 cup of milk, then and1 tsp salt. Add the egg (lightly beaten), and the finely chopped parsley.
- In a big non-stick pan add the remaining 7 cups of milk and bring almost to the boil. Gradually whisk the dissolved corn flour and egg mixture into the hot milk, stir well over the heat until the mixture boils and thickens; mix until smooth and remove from heat.
- Add half of the macaroni into your greased dish. Top the macaroni with the meat sauce and spread evenly. Add rest of the pasta over meat sauce.
- Pour over ¾ of the white sauce and use a fork to make sure that some of the white sauce goes through the pasta to the base of the dish. Now add the rest of the white sauce and smooth the surface, then sprinkle the breadcrumbs and cheese on top.
- Spread several nobs of butter equally along the surface of the dish.
- Bake uncovered at 180C for 1 hour, or until golden brown.
- Leave to stand for 15 minutes before serving.
If lemons are in season and you’re sure that they are organic, then use the grated peel of one lemon in the white sauce. The aroma is exquisite and a the flavour is well worth it.