Greek Baked Pasta

The moist and fragrant casserole pastitsio combines bechamel (a sauce of butter, flour and milk), pasta, ground lamb, tomato sauce, cheese, cinnamon and nutmeg. Instead of bechamel, Grace Parisi stirs a ricotta mixture into the pasta before baking it.

 

Slideshow:  More Greek Recipes

 

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  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 6
KEY: Fall, Winter, Fast - Column, Pairing of the Day, Greek, Casseroles & Gratins, Pasta & Noodles, Fast, Make Ahead, Staff Favorites, Dinner

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Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground lamb
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 cups jarred marinara sauce
  • 1 pound ziti or penne
  • 3 cups fresh ricotta (1 1/2 pounds)
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

How to make this recipe

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the lamb, onion, oregano, cinnamon, cloves and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper. Cook over high heat, stirring frequently, until the lamb is no longer pink and any liquid has evaporated, about 8 minutes. Add the marinara sauce and bring to a boil. Boil over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has reduced slightly, about 5 minutes.
  2. Cook the pasta until barely al dente; drain and return to the pot. Meanwhile, in a blender, blend 2 cups of the ricotta with the yolks, nutmeg and 1/2 cup of the Parmigiano-Reggiano until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Pulse in the remaining ricotta.
  3. Add the lamb ragù to the pasta and toss. Transfer the pasta to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Pour the ricotta mixture on top and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Bake in the center of the oven for about 20 minutes, until heated through. Turn the broiler on and broil until the top is golden brown. Let stand for a few minutes before serving.

Make Ahead

The baked pasta can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Serve hot.

Suggested Pairing

Blends from the Italian grape Refosco and the Greek Mavrodaphne are fabulous with this Greek Baked Pasta.

Contributed By Photo © Yunhee Kim Published March 2009

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