Monday, 6 November 2017

Pastitso - Baked Pasta With Beef And Cream Sauce

I think most people love pasta.  I eat it, and I don't mind it, but it would never be my first choice for a meal.  I know, I know, weird you say, especially as I've made a pasta dish here.  But this was an old fave of ours from our younger days, when we lived in share houses with lots of hungry people.  So it's an oldie but a goodie.  Something to put together on a quiet Sunday when you have a bit of spare time.  'Cos it does take a bit of time, but it's worth it, and it's very easy to make.

I have adapted this recipe slightly from that of Tess Mallos in her book The Complete Middle East Cookbook, a very well-thumbed and loved cookbook in our house.  So many wonderful recipes to be tried out, and devoured.  

just about to have dinner:=)

There are 3 parts to this dish; you can make the meat sauce much earlier in the day and leave it sit till you feel the need to get dinner together.  Tess suggests cooking the pasta up first, and then making the meat sauce, but I think it's best the other way around.  I didn't like the idea of the macaroni getting all gluggy for ages while the meat sauce cooked and cooled a bit.

Serves 6-8: (maybe less in our greedy household)


meat sauce: 

2 tbs (40g.) butter

1 tbs (20 mLs) olive oil

1 large brown onion, chopped

1/2 small carrot, diced or grated

2-3 small garlic cloves, finely chopped

750g. beef mince

60g. tomato paste

125 mLs (1/2 cup) red or white wine

125 mLs (1/2 cup) stock - I used my own homemade chicken

2 tbs parsley, chopped or 1-2 tbs dried oregano

1/2 tsp sugar

salt and pepper to taste - I used about 1 tsp salt, and lots of pepper

Macaroni layer:

375g. macaroni - I used Liscio Piccolo 40

4 tbs (80g.) butter  

125g. parmesan, grated - half for this layer; half for the top

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

salt and pepper to taste

3 eggs, lightly beaten

Cream Sauce:

80g. butter

60g. plain flour

750 mLs (3 cups) milk

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

salt and pepper to taste 

1 egg, lightly beaten


For the meat sauce:

Melt the butter in a large saucepan, and add the oil

Tip in the onion and carrot, and stir for a few minutes

Add the garlic and stir it in

Up the heat and add the beef mince, stirring in well

Once the meat is starting to brown, throw in the tomato paste, wine, stock, parsley, sugar, salt and pepper

Give it all a good stir and let it simmer away for 30 mins., covered

Then put it aside while you make the macaroni and the cream sauce

For the Macaroni:

Boil the pasta in salted water till al dente - mine took 10-12 mins.

Drain, and tip the macaroni back into the pan

Keep the pan on a very low heat; add the butter and stir it in

Add half the cheese, the nutmeg, salt and pepper

Stir it together well and allow to cool down

Pour in the beaten eggs, stir in well and set aside while you make the cream sauce

For the Cream Sauce:

Melt the butter and stir in the flour

Cook on a low heat for a couple of minutes till it starts to sizzle around the edges

Add all the milk at once and stir well

Bring it to the boil, stirring constantly

Boil gently for a couple of minutes

Add the nutmeg, salt and pepper

Cool for a few minutes before stirring in the beaten egg

Now stir 125 mLs (half a cup) of the cream sauce into the meat sauce

Grab yourself a very large baking dish or casserole dish - I used my enamel roaster of 30cm. which has a depth of about 7cm.  Tess suggests using an oven dish 33 x 23 x 8cm.

Butter it well, and spoon half the macaroni into the bottom

Now add all the meat sauce, then the rest of the macaroni on top

Pour the cream sauce evenly over the layers, making sure the macaroni is completely covered

Sprinkle the rest of the cheese evenly over the dish

Bake at 185C for 40-50 mins till golden on top and sizzling around the edges

Let it stand for 10 mins. then serve with a green salad

ingredients gathered

get Mr P. to stir the beef in

throw in all the other ingredients

put the butter in with the cooked, drained pasta 

stir the beaten egg into the white sauce 

pour half a cup of the cream sauce into the beef sauce

pour the luscious sauce over the macaroni

cheese scattered over; ready for baking at 185C for 40-50 mins.

ready for eating!

a fabulous recipe collection 

I have used and loved this cookbook for years.  It's arranged by country; with many terrific recipes, clearly written out and illustrated.  Tess wrote a number of cookbooks centring on Middle Eastern and Greek cooking.  This one was first published in 1979, with reprints regularly.  The recipes have the ingredients listed in order of use, and the steps are numbered to make it very easy to follow.  Hail Tess, who sadly passed away in 2012.

my nutmeg doodle  


  1. Yum Yum and more Yum. This is a great dish. Bit of work for Mrs P, but a lovely repast.

  2. Hi again! Thanks for visiting and commenting on my blog! I responded over there, too! I found the IMK link-up thru a mutual friend! Glad I did! I have you linked again so that's great! I hope to participate more often! Thanks again!

    1. thanks jennifer. it will be nice to see you here regularly. cheers sherry

  3. I'm like you. I like pasta but I don't eat it that often. I'd devour this though. It really depends on how it's presented and there's so much lovely filling here that I'd go for this.

    1. Yes the meat layer is very tasty. Original recipe has 500 g of macaroni which is way too much I think I’m not like the Italians. I like less pasta and more sauce:)

  4. Hi Sherry,

    Is there an easy way to print the recipe from your page - without getting 13 pages. Id love to try this tonight.

    1. Hi Lesley
      Sorry my blog doesn’t have a print facility for the recipe only But you could copy and paste just the recipe into word and then print it or print a pdf of just the recipe pages. Sorry I can’t be more helpful than that :(. Cheers S

  5. This is such an awesome pasta dish which I am looking forward to trying, Sherry. What kind of milk do you use for the cream sauce?

    1. hi Agness
      how lovely to see you here. it is definitely worth a go! I just used regular full cream milk but you could use any sort I guess- probably even soy or nut milk. hope you give it a try and that you love it too. cheers sherry

  6. This looks like excellent comfort food and a great family meal. I love this kind of a dish but agree, you do need to invest some time into it. It looks like your dish turned out really well xx

    1. Hi Charlie
      Lovely to see you here. Yes it’s a great dish and feeds the hordes:).

  7. This used to be one of my favorite dishes for a party but I haven't made it in years. I think it needs to go back into the rotation. Thank you for reminding me. Wonderful winter comfort food.

    1. Yep it’s pretty good Liz. Feeds the masses for sure. :)

  8. Yum! This looks awesome Sherry. I haven't made anything like this for a while. I'm thinking for dinner one night this week as I'm enjoying the cooler Spring weather we are having at the moment.

    1. this is pretty darn delish Jem. a bit of work but so worth it!

  9. Hi Sherry, I do like a good pastitso, but have never made it myself. Maybe I should for a change, when I have a little time.



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