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Greek Style Pastichio

If you like baked Ziti, you will love Greek style Pastichio with Bechamel sauce. Layers of meat, pasta, warm spices, and a creamy golden topping rivals Lasagna, and other baked pasta dishes. You will not leave the table hungry! This recipe is inspired by the baked Pastichio at Papaspiros Restaurant 728 Lake Street Oak Park IL (708) 358-1700 Recipe developed by World Cuisine Today

Greek Style Pastichio

Ingredients for the Pasta and Meat Sauce

One pound macaroni, cavatappi, or small penne pasta

One and a half pounds lean ground lamb, beef, veal or pork

Four cups fresh Roma tomatoes or Four cups tomato puree

One cup sweet white table wine such as Sauvignon Blanc or Kretikos White

One extra large yellow onion diced fine

Three large garlic cloves minced

One teaspoon Kosher salt

One teaspoon ground American style sweet cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Two fresh bay leaves minced

1/2 cup grated Kefalograviera cheese

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup minced flat leaf parsley (optional)

Three teaspoons fresh oregano minced

Three teaspoons fresh basil or mint minced

Two teaspoons honey

Ingredients for the Bechamel Sauce Topping

1 1/2 cups of whole milk

1 cup cream

3/4 cup Kefalograviera cheese grated fine

1/4 cup flour

Four tablespoons butter

Pinch of ground cardamom

Salt and pepper to taste

Method for the Sauce and Pasta

1) For the meat sauce, take a few tablespoons of the olive oil and coat a large high sided pan. Place the minced onion in and saute for roughly fifteen minutes until soft. Add the minced garlic. Saute a few minutes more. Leave all the juices in the pan and next add the ground meat. Mix it well with with the garlic and onion. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

2) In a small bowl combine a quarter cup of the olive oil. Puree the fresh tomatoes and strain or use ready made. Add to the olive oil with the salt and pepper, ground cinnamon, cardamom, clove, 1/8 cup of the minced parsley, the minced fresh bay, 2 t. minced oregano, and 2 t minced basil or mint and the honey. Mix to combine and pour over the meat. Simmer for about 15 minutes on medium low to dissolve off the liquid. At this point, add the white wine and simmer for another 15 minutes so that the meat mixture does not have added liquid.

3) As your meat sauce simmers prepare your Bechamel sauce. Reserve in a pot with a lid vented.

4) Set a large pot of water to boil. Use one pound of Macaroni, Cavatappi, or Small Ziti or Penne noodles. Cook two to three minutes before what the package calls for. Drain immediately. Grate the Kefalograviera cheese finely. Add the second quarter cup of the olive oil to the strained noodles in a bowl along with the cheese. Grease the 9 by 13 inch pan with a bit of the olive oil. Season the noodles also with 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamon, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Mix in next, the remaining one teaspoon basil or mint, one teaspoon oregano, and the minced parsley. At the very end, separate the two eggs, beat the whites and fold in thoroughly.

4) To assemble place 1/4 cup of the meat sauce over the bottom. Place half of the noodle mixture over and smooth. Add the meat sauce in the center, and then the other half of the noodle cheese herb mixture.

5) Pour the prepared warmed Bechamel sauce over the top. Bake for thirty to fourty minutes until the top is slightly brown and bubbling.

6) Remove to cool for at least twenty to twenty five minutes for all the layers to set.

Method for the Bechamel Sauce

1) In a large pot heat the milk to scalding hot. In another larger pot melt the butter and gradually stir in the flour. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese, cream, salt pepper and a pinch of cardamom. Finally mix in the egg yolks and stir rapidly. Set to the side off heat.

Serve your hot golden brown Pastichio pasta with an authentic Greek salad like an Elliniki or Horiatiki salad. Serve with some crusty bread, and additional olive oil, and grated cheese for the bread.

World Cuisine Today July 27, 2018