Pastitso, moussaka, avgolemeno sauces, fish stews and greek salads are considered a perfect example of traditional Greek country cooking and certainly a favourite in my home.
It is probably Tsemelmentes, one of the most influential chefs of his time and whose names is still synonymous to ‘cookbook’, who recreated some of these dishes as we know them today. He introduced french style methods into the Greek cuisine preferring butter to olive oil and heavier sauces, bringing bechamel sauce and a Greek version of bouillabaisse to our tables.
A favourite in my home is pastitso. I love to make a big tray so there is plenty for leftovers the next day and it is perfect served with a Greek Salad.
Here is my recipe for pastitso…
700 grams minced beef
1 onion finely chopped
1 clove of garlic finely chopped
1 bottle tomato passata
½ bottle water
splash of red wine
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon oregano
salt and pepper to taste
100 grams fetta cheese
750 grams rigatoni
1 tablespoon butter
Cook pasta in a large pot of water. When cooked, drain and toss in the butter and season with a little salt.
Saute onions and garlic with a little olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the mince and brown, adding the tomato passata and water, mix well and add a splash of red wine. Season to taste adding oregano and bay leaf. Cook for about 20 minutes until almost cooked.
While the pasta and meat sauce are cooking prepare the béchamel sauce and set aside.
In a large baking dish place half the pasta, then top with mince mixture and crumble the fetta cheese over then. Top with the remaining pasta and then finally the béchamel sauce. Bake in a 200oC oven for 45 minutes or until golden brown.
Serve with a delicious big Greek salad.
4 tablespoons butter
4 cups (1 litre) full fat milk (warm)
4 heaped tablespoons plain flour
salt and pepper
In a saucepan melt the butter and stir in the flour until combined. Pour the warm milk in slowly, stirring all the time as you pour, add eggs and mix well, season to taste.
I prefer no seasoning as I like the sweetness of this sauce.
Stir and cook until it is a custard consistency.