Recipe Date:
February 4, 2021
Cook Time:
Imperial (US)
Pro Tips: 1. You can prepare Pastitsio the night before up to step #6. Cover tightly and refrigerate. Bake the next day when you are ready (budget 1 hour for baking per step #7.) 2.This recipe makes a large amount for big gatherings or if you like leftovers! But you can simply cut the recipe in half for a smaller crowd (remember to watch the baking time). 3. You can freeze leftovers in portions. Thaw in fridge overnight. When ready, heat in a medium-heated oven until warmed through.


3 ½ cups uncooked Ziti pasta
Salt, TT
Extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp grated Parmesan

For Meat Sauce:

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 ½ lb. ground beef (or lamb, goat, pork, etc.)
3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
Salt, TT
½ cup Van Duzer Pinot Noir
28 oz crushed tomatoes
2 dried bay leaves
¾ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
Pinch sugar

For Bechamel:

1/3 cup + 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt, TT
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
4 cups 2% milk, warmed
2 large eggs

TT=To Taste


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Cook the pasta to al dente according to package instructions. Be sure to add salt and olive oil to the boiling water. Drain and transfer pasta to 9 1/2" x 13" baking pan. While still hot, drizzle pasta with a little more extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle grated Parmesan. Toss to combine. Set aside for now.
Make the meat sauce. In a large pan, or skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high until shimmering but not smoking. Sauté onions until just golden, then add lean beef and garlic. Season with salt.  Cook until meat is fully browned, tossing regularly and breaking up the meat with your wooden spoon (about 8 to 10 minutes). Carefully drain any excess liquid and return pan to heat. Add wine, crushed tomato, bay leaves, spices, and pinch of sugar. Mix to combine. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes, then lower heat and let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or so. Taste and adjust salt to your liking.
While the meat sauce is simmering, prepare the bechamel. In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Stir in flour, salt, and pepper. Cook until golden (if needed, add a little more olive oil). Gradually add the warmed milk, whisking continuously. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, until smooth and thick. Add nutmeg.
In a small bowl, whisk a small amount of the hot bechamel mixture with the 2 eggs. Then return all to the pan with the remaining bechamel mixture. Continue to stir or whisk the mixture bringing to a gentle boil for 2 more minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. Remove from heat and allow to cool and thicken a little more (you should have a creamy, thick, and smooth bechamel sauce).
Assemble the pastitsio. Top the cooked pasta with the meat sauce; smooth with a wooden spoon to fully cover the pasta. Now top the meat sauce with the bechamel topping. Again, smooth with your wooden spoon to cover the meat sauce evenly.
Bake the pastitsio in 350 degrees F heated oven for 1 hour until golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside for 10 minutes before serving. Cut into square pieces and serve.