Lamb Pastitsio

This recipe makes enough for a large family, so after discovering it, I waited to make it until I knew I'd have enough family visiting to eat it all! We love lamb so I knew the meat component would be a success, but I do have a daughter who is not particularly fond of pasta. Even she liked this dish.
It was described as "Greek Lasagna", but it's really not as heavy a dish as I often think lasagna is. We loved the spices in the sauce and I served it with a salad and some crusty, cheesy French bread. 

I had to smile at my photo. The original, on Coconut and Lime, was a piece of art, I swear. How ever did she get everything all layered neatly and cut to perfection? A razor sharp knife? Or perhaps she was alone in the kitchen without hungry people standing next to her. I was fortunate to even take a photo!
Messy slicing, but yummy on the tummy.

Lamb Pastitsio

From Coconut and Lime

For the sauce:
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 3/4 lb ground lamb
28 oz canned whole tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon crushed rosemary
4 sprigs worth of thyme leaves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons merlot vinegar
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

For the pasta:
1 lb ziti (or if you can find it, Macaroni Pastitsio no. 2; I ordered it from Amazon)
3 egg whites, beaten
3 tablespoons grated kefalotyri cheese (or Parmesan)

For the béchamel:
5 tablespoons butter
4 cups milk 
1/2 cup flour
3 egg yolks, beaten
3/4 cup grated kefalotyri cheese (or Parmesan)
pinch nutmeg
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Saute the onion and garlic in olive oil until the onion is translucent. Add the lamb and continue to saute until the lamb is fully cooked, breaking up any large pieces as it cooks. Drain off excess fat. Add the remaining sauce ingredients and simmer, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Set aside.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta to slightly less than al dente. Allow to cool, then toss with the egg whites and cheese. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter for the béchamel. Whisk in the flour and when smooth, add the milk. Whisk to incorporate the flour mixture. Cook on low, whisking occasionally until thickened. Remove from heat. Whisk in remaining ingredients. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350.

Pour half of the pasta into a 2 1/2 quart casserole. Top with half of the meat sauce. Press the mixture down firmly and make sure the sauce goes to each edge. Top with half of remaining pasta then all of the remaining sauce. Arrange the remaining pasta on top of the sauce and then top with the béchamel.

Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the béchamel is golden. Loosely tent with foil and allow to sit 20-30 minutes prior to serving.


  1. So hearty and jam packed with flavours, Barbara.

  2. It looks like it oozing with goodness to me. We love lamb - our whole family does.

  3. One of my daughters dated a young man about 23 years ago and he spoke of it and said his mom's was fantastic.I have always wanted to try it..I have only ever heard raves..
    If I make it I'll make yours.
    I love pasta and meat etc..

  4. Extremely scrumptious! A tasty dish.



  5. looks great and must be lovely to have family visit

  6. i'm impressed! i've seen this on blogs before but never in person, and it seems so intimidating to make for some reason. comfort food at its finest, for sure. :)

  7. I love your photo! It's hard, isn't it, when there are people whining about how hungry they are?

    This looks wonderful, we love lamb here, so I'm going to give it a whirl!

  8. Hi Barbara, this looks like comfort food at it's finest!

  9. I wonder if her photo was taken after the dish was chilled? It is so perfectly sliced which would be almost impossible with a dish hot from the oven, especially with hungry people surrounding you :) Another great 'family' sized dish to try! You do find the best recipes, Barbara.

    1. You are so smart, Susan. I agree...I bet it was chilled. I should have waited until I refrigerated the leftovers and taken the photo the next day!

  10. Love this recipe Barbara !!

  11. Pastitsio is a casserole almost all Greek households make at least once a month. The original recipe is somewhat different than this, but food is all about experimenting. Your pastitsio looks delicious Barbara and if you want to check the one we make here in Greece you can go to http://culinaryflavors.gr/2010/08/pastitsio/

  12. Love the way yours looks Barbara. Moist and drippy. LOL.



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