Pastitsio – Cypriot Pasta Bake

Cyprus

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Serves

    4

    (with leftovers)

Appears in

Lavender & Lovage: A Culinary Notebook of Memories & Recipes From Home & Abroad

Lavender & Lovage

By Karen Burns-Booth

Published 2019

  • About

This is one of my most requested meals by friends and family. It’s a fabulous recipe for a crowd that does take some time to prepare, but it can be assembled ahead of time before cooking. It’s pure Cypriot flavours, with the warmth of cinnamon and the freshness of mint adding to the overall unctuousness of the creamy Béchamel sauce and lightly spiced ground beef and pork, that’s layered between soft pasta. Serve this with a large Greek style salad for a fabulous Mediterranean meal. NB: The ingredients are easily doubled for a crowd.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely diced
  • 250 g lean minced beef
  • 250 g lean minced pork
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 60 ml white wine
  • 200 g tinned tomatoes
  • 250 g macaroni pasta, or penne pasta
  • 25 g butter
  • 1 tablespoon dried mint
  • 1 tablespoon dried breadcrumbs

Sauce

  • 60 g butter
  • 60 g plain flour
  • 500 ml full-fat milk
  • Grated nutmeg

Method

  1. Sauté the onion in the olive oil until soft and translucent, then add the parsley and garlic, and fry for a further minute or two.
  2. Add the minced meat and fry until the meat is browned all over and is cooked through; season with salt and pepper. Add the bay leaf and the ground cinnamon, mix well before adding the wine, and cook until the wine has evaporated. Add the chopped tomatoes and a little water, mix and cook for a further 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. At this stage, pre-heat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas mark 6 and cook the pasta in boiling water according to the packet’s instructions. Drain and tip the pasta into a bowl, add the butter and dried mint and mix well.
  4. Spoon half of the pasta into a medium size oval or rectangular ovenproof dish; spoon the meat mixture over the top of the pasta and then add the rest of the pasta, smoothing it down over the top of the meat mixture.
  5. Make the béchamel sauce: make a roux by melting the butter in a mediumsized saucepan. Add the flour and cook for a minute, before pouring in the milk slowly, whisking constantly. Only add more milk once the last has been fully incorporated and the sauce is lump free. Season well with salt, pepper and a little grated nutmeg.
  6. Pour the sauce over the pasta and sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is golden brown and bubbling. Allow to cool for 25 to 20 minutes before serving with salad.