Fall Pastitsio Recipe

Hi foodies! I have been busy making a new catering menu these last weeks. I wanted to combine traditional and modern flavors to create new and exciting Greek savory and sweet recipes. One of my favorite sweets that I infused pumpkin with is baklava. It has been a hit for many years now! I just sent over a huge package of pastries to my customer Betty in Louisiana. She is enjoying pumpkin baklava and infused kourambiedes. Stay tuned in for an infused kourambiedes recipe!

 

Now let’s get to the fall pastitsio! I took my classic pastitsio recipe, and intertwined pumpkin in my béchamel to give it a fall kick. The end results, creamy béchamel with hints of pumpkin, cardamom, cinnamon, and nutmeg spices. This is such a treat especially for Thanksgiving coming up around the corner. 

Recipe Notes:

  • In this recipe, you do not need to use eggs in the béchamel since this sauce is already heavy as is, and the pumpkin and heavy cream give it the perfect consistency. 
  • I use my pumpkin spice seasoning in the béchamel for a lovely fall kick. You can buy that organic spice here.
  • Now if you live in the USA, You may not be able to find the Greek pasta which is Misko Pastitsio No 2. I could order directly from Amazon, but in my case, I couldn’t wait that long. I used penne pasta instead, and it worked really well.  Ps, I do not get paid to advertise for Amazon, just to clarify.  I don’t like to leave out any good information on where to buy products, so that is why I included the link for Amazon. But if you do want to help me, please do visit my online store.

 

Fall Pastitsio (Baked Pasta) – Παστίτσιο

This recipe is from my cookbooks! Check out the wine pairing too!!

Servings: 24

Ingredients:

Meat Filling:

  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 pounds of ground beef or ground lamb 
  • ¼ cup red wine
  • 1 ½ cup tomato sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 yellow onion, minced
  • 4 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • pinch of salt & pepper
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon dry cumin 
  • 1 teaspoon dry oregano 
  • 4 tablespoons breadcrumbs (I make my own; just use a French loaf and grind it in a blender)
  • 1 package of Misko #2 or penne pasta
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 ¾ cups grated parmesan cheese

Béchamel Sauce:

  • 2 cups of whole milk
  • 2 cups of heavy cream
  • 1 stick of butter cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup of flour
  • 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree
  • 2 teaspoons of pumpkin spice
  • sea salt & ground pepper
  • ¼ cup of grated parmesan cheese for extra flavor (optional)

Method

 

Meat Filling and Pasta:

  1. To prepare the meat filling, add olive oil to a large pan over medium heat. Add the ground beef and cook until it isn’t pink (about 5-6 minutes). Add wine, tomato sauce, garlic, onion, parsley, cinnamon, salt & pepper, allspice, cumin, and oregano. 
  2. Let the sauce simmer for about ten minutes. While the sauce is simmering, boil the water for the pasta. When the pasta is done, rinse and drain. Set aside.
  3. Stir the bread crumbs into the meat sauce to absorb the liquids. Remove the pan from the heat. 
  4. Melt 1 stick of butter in the pasta pot and place the pasta back in. Mix the melted butter and pasta together. Mix in the beaten egg whites, and one cup of parmesan cheese.
  5. Brush a baking/lasagna dish with olive oil. Start layering the pasta at the bottom. Add the meat filling on top of the pasta, making sure it is evenly spread out. Repeat the steps. Preheat the oven to 350° F and prepare the béchamel sauce.

Béchamel Sauce:

  1. Heat the milk in a medium-sized pot over medium-high heat. Let it come to a simmer and remove from heat. 
  2. Melt the butter in another small pot over low heat. Once butter fully melts, add the flour. Stir to combine with a wooden spoon until a thick paste appears. Slowly add the hot milk to the flour mixture while whisking to combine over low heat. You want to prevent lumps from appearing, but if you have lumps that’s okay; you can always fix them later with an emulsifier. Whisk in the pumpkin puree. 
  3.  Place the pot over medium heat again and cook for a few minutes until the sauce is thickened and creamy. 
  4. Remove from heat and add pumpkin spice, salt, and pepper.   You can also add parmesan cheese for extra flavor.  
  5. Pour the béchamel sauce in the casserole over the last layer of meat and sprinkle with the remaining ¾ cup of parmesan cheese. Bake in the oven at 350° F for about 45 minutes or until pastitsio is nicely golden brown on top. 
  6. Remove from the oven and let cool. Cut in squares and sprinkle with fresh parsley to serve. Pastitsio is always good when it has chilled for 1 day. It will hold its shape really well when it has chilled. 

 

 

Wine pairing by Bill Warry:

There are some strong flavors in this recipe similar to “Makaronia me Kima.” Does the béchamel alter the equation? Perhaps it makes the flavors a little bit stronger, and I might opt for an oaked Xinomavro from Naoussa or an oaked Agiorgitiko from Nemea. 

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