Pistachios, am I nuts? No, this is Pastitsio, also known as Pasticcio, and sometimes spelled Pasticchio. But my tattered Better Homes and Garden cookbook names this Greek dish it the latter. No matter how you spell it, it’s dang good! It also messes up a lot of pots and pans. But don’t let that stop you from making this guest-worthy casserole.
You can shorten the cooking time by preparing some of the steps concurrently, or, if you have a lazy weekend day with lots of time you can just methodically work your way through each step. The end result will be the same. Bites of savory tomato and ground beef pasta topped with a lusciously puffy bechamel/egg crust. Are you drooling yet???
I had not made this in probably 5 or 6 years, so I just followed the recipe again as written (mostly) in the cookbook. Traditionally, this dish is made with a tubular pasta but I think the smaller macaroni works well with this. My family agreed it could use a few tweaks, but even so we all enjoyed this immensely. I’ve added my tweaks to the recipe below, and I think you’d be satisfied with them. So here it goes:
From Better Homes and Gardens All-Time Favorite Recipes
6 ounces (1 1/2 cups) dry elbow macaroni
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (the real stuff!)
1/4 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
3/4 pound ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce (I would also add a can of diced tomatoes next time)
3/4 teaspoon salt (I used Mrs. Dash, but we agreed real salt would be better)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I actually used 1/4 teaspoon, and it was the right amount)
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper (I ground in liberal amounts)
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups milk
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Paprika, to make it pretty
Cook the macaroni according to package directions. Drain, and set aside to cool for a bit. When cooled enough not to cook the egg you will be adding, stir in 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup of milk, and the beaten egg. Set aside.
In a large skillet, brown the ground beef and chopped onion until the meat is cooked and the onion is tender. Drain off any excess fat. Stir in the tomato sauce (and can of diced tomatoes, if using), and the salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and pepper. Set aside.
In a saucepan, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and a little bit of salt to form a paste. Pour in the 1 1/2 cups of milk all at once, whisking continuously. Cook and stir until the sauce is thickened and bubbly. Add the other beaten egg to a bowl, then pour half the sauce into the bowl with the egg and combine. Then pour that mixture back into the saucepan with the rest of it. Stir in 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese until combined.
Layer half the macaroni mixture to a lightly oil-sprayed 2-quart casserole dish. Spread the meat mixture evenly on top of the pasta, then the remaining macaroni. Spread the cream sauce over all. (Optionally sprinkle ground paprika over it, to make it pretty.) Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy with a side salad or vegetable. Guest-worthy, indeed!