YIELD:

serves 6-8

ACTIVE TIME:

1 hour

TOTAL TIME:

2 hours

INGREDIENTS

1 box of pastitsio pasta 

4 cups of shredded cheese (kaseri, parmesan, mozzarella, gouda, kefalotyri etc)

BECHAMEL SAUCE:

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 16 tablespoons flour
  • 4 cups warm milk
  • 4 yolks
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg

Ingredients for the ground meat 

  •  1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 large onion chopped 
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 2 lb ground meat (turkey, chicken, pork or beef)
  • 1 carrot chopped
  • 1 zucchini chopped 
  • 1 eggplant chopped 
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 1 jar marinara sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • Salt and pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

PREPARE THE BECHAMEL SAUCE:

  • Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the flour and then gradually whisk in the milk. Cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is smooth and thickened. Stir in the salt, pepper, nutmeg and remove from heat. Whisk in the eggs. Set aside.

PREPARE THE MEAT LAYER:

  1. Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Cook the onion until soft, add the garlic, followed by the vegetables except for the tomatoes, and the spices. Cook to release the flavors.
  2. Add the meat and fry until fully cooked and no pink shows at all in the meat.
  3. Add the marinara and cook for 4-5 minutes. 
  4. Stir in the wine and allow to cook down.
  5.  Lower the heat and simmer for 15- 20 minutes.

PREPARE THE PASTA LAYER:

  • Cook the pasta according to directions on the package. Drain and rinse with cool water. 

ASSEMBLE THE DISH:

  • Preheat your oven to 380 degrees F.
  • Brush some olive oil your baking dish.  
  • Scoop half of the pasta into the bottom of your prepared dish. Sprinkle generously with cheese ( a cup). Spoon on the meat mixture to create an even layer. 
  • Scoop the remaining pasta on top of the meat and sprinkle with more cheese( one cup)! Top with the bechamel sauce and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
  • Bake 45 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and golden on top. 

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