I'm excited to introduce you to my friend from Down Under Eleni Konstantine. Not only is Eleni a fantastic writer, she's one hell of a cook! So take it away Eleni and dazzle us an awesome Greek dish.
Hi Everyone! Nice to meet you all.
I’m very lucky. I’ve been surrounded by good cooks my whole life. One food that I have loved since I was a kid is pastitsio. And my mum’s pastitsio has always been my favourite.
What is pastitsio? It’s Greek and is sort of like a mousaka, but instead of potato and eggplant, you use pasta. We cook it for my dad’s name day celebration. It is one of his favourite dishes.
There are three layers traditionally but we mix up the bottom two layers.
1. Pasta - bottom layer
2. Mince sauce
3. Béchamel sauce - top
You will find variations on the web, but this is the one that always makes my mouth water no mater what.
The following is for a dish 30cm x 40cm (11 inches x 15 inches)
I had to pin my mum down for this as she does this off the cuff and changes according to the size of the casserole dish.
500gm (1 pound) pasta of your choice. We usually go for penne as it mixes with the mince layer really well.
7 eggs (3 egg whites, lightly beaten for mince/pasta layer; the remainder egg yellows will go in the béchamel (white sauce) and 4 eggs in Béchamel sauce.
7 cups milk
6 tbsp. melted salted butter
250gms (1 cup) of corn flour
1 tsp. of nutmeg
8 tbsp. grated parmesan cheese or dried ricotta cheese or a mixture of both
800-1kg mince or 13/4-2 pounds ground - we usually do a mixture of Pork and Beef. 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 onion grated
2 tbsp. of tomato paste
1 14oz. can diced tomatoes or readymade pasta sauce to replace the paste and diced tomato
½ cup chopped parsley (continental)
1- 1½ cups water
8 tbsp. corn flour heaping
- Heat oil and fry mince until brown.
- Add onion and stir
- Add tomato paste and diced tomato. Stir
- Add ¾ teaspoon nutmeg.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Add chopped parsley
- Stir until there is little to no liquid left.
- Take off heat and put to side.
- boil the paster so it’s al dente. tip 1: add a few drops of extra virgin olive oil; tip 2: when you add the pasta, add some salt to taste.
- strain pasta
- Mix the meat sauce and the pasta together
- Add 3 lightly beaten egg whites into mixture and stir.
- Butter or oil a casserole dish (we use Pyrex) before use.
- Pour mixture above into casserole dish and flatten out to cover the bottom of the dish.
- Leave for 10 minutes (so the meat takes up a bit of the heat)
- Add the 7 tablespoons of the cheese(s)
- Place 6 cups of milk, a pinch of white pepper, ¼ teaspoon with melted butter into saucepan to boil.
- As this is heating, add into a bowl, the remainder eggs (4 whole + 3 yellows), 1 cup of milk and corn flour and whisk until the corn flour is absorbed.
- Add the bowl’s ingredients into the saucepan and stir until the milk froths.
- If there are lumps in your white sauce, you can sift it through to make it more smooth.
- Add white sauce to the casserole dish. Spread out.
- Add some dried grated ricotta cheese or parmesan cheese to top of mixture
- Put in oven at 180Celcuis (356 Fahrenheit) for an hour.
- Let it rest for 10 minutes when you take it out of the oven.
- Cut into how large you want your pieces to be, and serve.
- A Greek village salad makes a good side dish.
Eleni lives in Adelaide, Australia, with her family and feisty American Staffy.
Learn more about Eleni Konstantine on her website and her blog Eleni's Taverna.