Traditionally, to make pastitsio, ground beef or lamb is cooked in a tomato-wine sauce. It’s seasoned with cinnamon, which is an unusual but intriguing taste. The amount is certainly generous enough that you will be able to taste it. It’s worth splurging for your best cinnamon—even freshly ground—to make the most of the spice.
It’s topped with an indulgent béchamel sauce and Parmesan cheese. The addition of 4 eggs at various stages of cooking elevates this to a different level.
It’s definitely company-worthy and not something to eat everyday. But it’s a fantastic and delicious meal when you’re in the mood for something different.
Serves 6 to 8
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz can tomato sauce, preferably no salt added
1/4 cup red wine (not sweet)
1/2 tsp oregano, preferably Greek
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp sea salt
12 oz pkg veggie crumbles
4 large eggs
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
3 Tbsp unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan. Cook the onion until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Stir in the tomato sauce, wine, oregano, cinnamon, sea salt, and veggie crumbles. Simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Beat 1 egg. Stir in and remove from heat. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Wash and dry the saucepan and return to heat. Now we make the béchamel sauce!
Add the butter and melt. Whisk in the flour and ground white pepper and cook 1 minute. Add 1 1/2 cups of the milk and whisk until thickened.
Beat 2 eggs and whisk into the sauce. Whisk in 1/4 cup of the Parmesan. Remove from heat.
Bring a large saucepan of water to boil. Add the elbow macaroni and cook until slightly less than al dente, about a minute less than the shortest package cooking time (6 minutes or so, typically). Drain and transfer to a bowl. Stir in the last 1/4 cup milk, the final egg, and the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray an 8”x8” baking dish. Place half the macaroni in.
Add all of the tomato-wine sauce.
Add the rest of the macaroni.
Pour all of the béchamel sauce over and sprinkle with cinnamon.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until set. Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes.
Slice and serve.