Lots of people ask me what Pastitsio is.  It is commonly referred to as the Greek lasagna, but I think it has a lot of differences.  It’s a Greek/Mediterranean dish that is topped with Béchamel sauce.  The dish has warm spices in it that set it apart from any other baked pasta dish.  It is truly an incredible dish and worth the work to put it together.

For the Pasta:
-1 Pound Mustacholi or Ziti
-Olive Oil

For the Meat Sauce:
-Olive Oil
-1 or about 4 Cup medium Eggplant, diced
-2 Cup Onion, diced
-2 Cloves Garlic, minced
-2 Pounds Ground Sirloin
-½ teaspoon Cinnamon
-2 teaspoons Dried Oregano
-3 Cups San Marzano Tomatoes (crushed)

For the Bechamel:
-4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
-½ Cup Flour
-2 Cups 2% Milk
-½ Cup Heavy Cream
-¼ teaspoon Freshly Grated Nutmeg
-1/8 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
-2 teaspoon Salt
-Freshly Ground Black Pepper
-½ Cup Parmesan or Kasseri Cheese

Cook the pasta al dente, according to package directions.
Set aside until later.

Dice the eggplant and sauté it in a large pan or dutch oven with a couple tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat.  Season with salt and pepper.  Remove eggplant from the dutch oven and set aside.

To the same dutch oven or pan, add more olive oil and cook onions and garlic.
 Cook for about three minutes, until onions are translucent.
Add ground sirloin to the onions and break it up with a spatula as it cooks.
When the meat has browned, add cinnamon and oregano.

Add the tomatoes and reduce heat to low.  Allow to simmer for ten minutes.

Put the eggplant back into the dutch oven and keep on low heat, stirring occasionally while making the Béchamel.

Preheat oven to 350F.

For the Béchamel:

In a saucepan, melt butter on medium heat.

Once butter has melted, add flour and whisk it in.

Whisk in milk and cream.  Add cayenne pepper, salt and pepper.
Whisk constantly until the sauce starts to bubble and gets thick.  Add Parmesan, mix,  and turn the heat off the burner.  Set aside.
In a 13×9 baking dish, assemble the Pastitsio.  First, put a layer of 1/3 of the meat sauce down.
Put half of the pasta on top.

Add another third of the meat sauce on top of the pasta, then another layer of pasta, followed by the last third of meat sauce.  Top with Béchamel and a little extra Parmesan.

Bake at 350F for 30 minutes until hot and bubbly.

Let sit for five minutes before serving.  Enjoy!