Pasta and Ground Lamb Casserole (Pastitsio)
Pastitsio, a classic Greek dish combining layers of meaty tomato sauce, pasta, béchamel, and cheese, is comfort food at its finest. This appealing casserole is a nice change from the usual Italian baked pasta dishes.
Why This Recipe Works
When developing our pastitsio recipe, we began with the lamb and tomato sauce, browning the lamb and then draining the rendered fat to keep the casserole from becoming too greasy. A combination of crushed tomatoes and tomato paste yielded the tomato intensity and saucy texture that we were after for our pastitsio recipe. We liked elbow macaroni best, and we cooked it very shy of al dente so that the pasta wouldn’t bake up soft and soggy in the casserole. We tested the béchamel next, and found that the casserole required a surprising amount to keep it moist. Because the quantity was so large, the béchamel had to have good flavor—we enhanced it with onion, garlic, Pecorino cheese, and nutmeg.