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Pastitsio + Stitches = PASTITCHIO!?

Funny how a day can turn on its head in a matter of seconds, isn't it?  It was a sunny Saturday with the perfect weather for some college football.  A mere hour away from the kick-off of the BIGGEST game day in our house (Michigan State vs. Notre Dame); a pan heavy with the comforting smell of the Mediterranean weaving the scent of comfort and mischief through our weekend rituals.  The kids are outside enjoying the perfect afternoon...darting past the kitchen door with squeals of playful laughter.  Until.  Until!  Sweet Thang bursts through the door holding a hand with ruby red blood that is starting to pool in his palm.  No tears, just a white-knuckle grip from his opposite hand.  We head into the bathroom to wash it off and run a swab of hydrogen peroxide across it, anticipating the stinging fizz...yet what we see goes much deeper.  Literally.  I can see the meat in the fleshy pad that lies just below the thumb.  Time for the emergency room.

Three stitches, the majority of the first half of the game (with a horrible outcome, I might add), a stop at the drug store, and a couple of hours later we walked in the front door to a welcoming pan of still-warm Pastitsio (or Pastitchio as it's come to be affectionately known around here).  Hubs kept a watchful eye and pulled it out of the oven for me while we were gone.  After the hub-bub of a long afternoon, a fat slice of this dish is just the thing to calm your spirit.  Meat tinged with a hint of cinnamon packed firmly between toothsome pasta and nestled under a rich bed of creamy bechamel sauce.  Oh yeah, it's like that.
slightly adapted from Falling Cloudberries
by Tessa Kiros
serves 10

4 Tbs. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 Tbs. chopped parsley
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. ground pork
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ c. white wine
1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes w/ their juices
1 lb. Rigatoni (or any short pasta)
~2 Tbs. butter
½ tsp. dried mint
1 Tbs. bread crumbs
4 oz. butter
1 c. all-purpose flour
4 c. warm milk
freshly grated nutmeg

Tessa uses an oval-shaped baking dish that is 14" long, 10" wide, and 2½" deep.  It fits exactly in this pan,  I used my lasagna pan which measures 12" x 8½" x 2½" and it fit exactly.  Try to use a pan that is approximately one of these sizes.
Heat oil in a large, nonstick pan and fry onion until soft and just beginning to color.  Add parsley and garlic and cook for a few more seconds, then add both of the ground meats.  Continue to cook until all moisture is evaporated and the meat is beginning to brown.  Season with salt and pepper, then add the bay leaf and cinnamon.  When it begins to fry in the oil and brown, add wine and cook until evaporated.  Add tomatoes and ~1 cup of water and continue to cook over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes, or until most of the moisture has evaporated, but the meat should not be too dry.  Remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Cook pasta in boiling, salted water for 2 minutes less than it says on the package.  Drain and put in a bowl.  Mix in the butter, crumble the mint between your fingers and add it, and toss in the bread crumbs.  Mix well and spoon half over the bottom of your greased baking dish.  Pour the meat mixture over the top so it evenly covers the pasta.  Add the remaining pasta over the top in an even layer.  Press down with a wooden spoon so that it is fairly compact.  Set aside and make the bechamel sauce.

Melt butter in a saucepan.  Whisk in flour and cook for a few minutes, stirring.  Drizzle in warm milk slowly, whisking constantly.  Season with salt and pepper, and grate in some fresh nutmeg.  Continue cooking for ~5 minutes or so after it comes to a boil, until very thick and smooth.  Pour bechamel over the whole dish evenly.  This should fit exactly in the dish.  Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the top is nicely golden in parts.  Cool a bit before cutting into squares to serve, giving it time to set up.
Welcome Tessa Kiros this week at IHCC...we'll be cooking with her for the next six months.  Come on over and join us!
IHCC Tessa Kiros Button

I am also sharing this post with:
*Gay of Scientist in the Kitchen who is hosting PPN this week
prestopastanights wanderfood-badge thesechickscookfeaturingmyrecipes Cast Party Wednesday


  1. OUCH!! Now that's a story (and sure he's showing that scar off). This dish sure takes the pain away.

  2. Oh no, that looks painful! I bet this pasta could blow away the pain. Thanks for joining Presto Pasta Nights.

  3. Y-OUch!! That looks painful. So glad you already had your dinner made, looks delicious!

  4. Ouch! Poor thing.

    The pastitsio looks delicious. I'm totally into Greek food right now!

  5. I'm a new follower, but now that I see you're an ND hater, I might have to stop....hahaha! Just kidding... If you can handle a Notre Dame grad following you, I'd love to keep up with your fabulous recipes! :-)

  6. After a day like that you needed a comforting dish like that to come home to. Nice stitches...ouch!

  7. Pastitchio--love it! Great looking dish. Seems like just the thing after the tye of day you described. Points to your husband for wrapping up the cooking!

  8. So sorry about the stiches...I was no good at emergency rooms, when my kids got cuts I would almost faint!
    The pastitsio is just my kind of meal, I will definitely give it a try. The idea of the mint, and cinnamon, and garlic and nutmeg all mixed up in there sounds heavenly.

  9. @Kate...I'm not an ND hater (and I live in SB), it's just that I bleed green and white, so when they play each other...well... The hubs and my oldest sons are huge Irish fans. Like i said, as long as they're not playing State, I'm okay with them!! So, no problems here ;P

  10. Hahaha!!! I totally understand! My mom and I are both Domers, but my dad (and his brother and his father) went to we had the same issue with that game growing up.... Dad finally gave up and just said he was "Pulling for Blue and Gold" to keep the peace with the women in his life! :-)

  11. ...ah yes, "the house divided". Makes for some good-spirited {ahem} rivalry. =)

  12. That's a tasty looking dish and a great close up of the paw! I need to check out the IHCC as it sounds like a lot of fun, am I too late for this bus?

  13. Ohhh! Poor Sweet Thang! That looks painful. But if the Pastitchio was good enough to make everyone feel better, then I'm sure it's just what I need after having my wisdom tooth pulled. :P

  14. Have not made Pastitsio in along time; thank you for the reminder. Know the feeling; with 4 sons I had a few casualties; hope it is healing well.

  15. Poor kid - that's a pretty good war wound! Your dinner looks exactly the sort of settling thing he needs after that.

  16. way man, it's never too late! Join in as much or as little as you like, we're an easy-going group. We have a different "theme" weekly, and as long as you submit a recipe from our current chef/cook, it's all good. Tessa Kiros is going to equal a fantastic six months!! =) Hope to see you there....

  17. OUCH, those stitches look painful... But then again I'm a big baby - even a papercut would've made me wince. ;)


  18. Plenty of drama at the GC household, but a nice comforting dish of pa"stitch"io soothes the soul.

  19. i think that gorgeous meal would cure what ails beautiful and looks incredibly delicious

  20. Yeouch! I hope he's doing well, poor kid.

    What is it with this ER trips around dinner time? First Pam from the Love of Cooking and now your family?

    I'm going to be on guard the next few days when I'm cooking dinner. I'm going to make Trevor stay on his bed and not touch anything, lol.

  21. I'm headed to the ER tomorrow to hopefully get an X-Ray of my leg which may or may not have a stress fracture in it...I wish I had this to come home to! I'm so glad Sweet Thang is okay!

  22. So glad he's doing better now. Scary!
    I've never had pastisio before, or pastitchio - looks absolutely wonderful!

  23. Wow, what am ambitious and wonderful dish for the welcome! My books just arrived two days ago so I have my recipe all picked out, but it is not ambitious like this one...guess I am sort of easing into it. In love with the books already. The ND/Michigan game was a good team! I have to have an alternate football team to cheer for because IU is not known for its football program...although, I am a loyal fan, do attend, and do watch when I can't attend. And then breathlessly wait for October 15th when the basketballs start dribbling down in Assembly Hall in Hooville! Great post, sorry about the injury.

  24. Pastichio is one of my familes favorite dinner meals unfortunately, the batch always gets eaten before I have the time to take a photo! One issue I have with my recipe is getting the top layer to be as fluffly and creamy as yours. I'm going to try your recipe and see if I can replicate your expertise!

  25. My former roommate's mother made the best pastitsio and there is a Greek restaurant here that makes a good one, but neither of them look as good as this one does. This is going to be an exciting six months. ;-)

    I am glad your son is doing better and that it wasn't more serious.

  26. I totally read pistachio instead of pastitsio, how funny!! I hope the meal was worth the injury. :(


  27. Tessa's pastitsio is definitely on my list of things to make during our 6 months. It looks like serious comfort food.

    Just looking at the stitches on his poor little hand makes me sad. Sounds like he was tough about it though. Glad it's on the mend!

  28. Glad you made this dish - it's one I've had bookmarked for quite a while and have been meaning to try.

    Pastichio was a dish we ate and enjoyed often when I was in Greece earlier in the year, so I'm really looking forward to trying this version.

    Hope Sweet Thang's poor wee hand is on the mend.

    Sue xo

  29. I definitely want to try this one - Sorry about the stitches!

  30. Ouch, those stitches look painful! But that pasta dish looks delicious, something I know my family would love for dinner