This is a dish not only celebrated by Greeks but also by Italians. Depending where you are in Italy, Pastitsio is a dish that Italians and Greeks alike love to indulge in. It's a great change from lasagna or pasta in the oven. Being from southern Italy and right across the Adriatic from Greece we share a lot in Mediterranean dishes and flavors. This is one of those dishes. It's a comforting and hearty dish perfect for the fall and winter seasons. NOTE: Tamara used sausage in her recipe and I thought that was a great kick! So I wanted to tell you about it, If you didn't want to use all ground meat add in some sausage, hot or mild Italian sausage! Great idea Tamara!!!!
1Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until al dente. Drain and return to pan.
2In a small saucepan, melt butter until golden brown, and pour over the reserved pasta. Add the parmesan cheese and toss well. Leave until cool, then add eggs and toss again. Set aside.
3For the sauce, drizzle extra virgin olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and minced garlic, saute for 5 minutes.
4Add the ground meat and saute over medium heat for at least 10 minuted and until meat is no longer pink.
5Drain most of excess liquid but not all, add the wine, and cook for 2 more minutes.
6Add the oregano and thyme, mix and cook for about 5 minutes.
7Add tomatoes, salt and seasoned pepper blend. Simmer for 40-45 minutes stirring occasionally. Set sauce aside.
8Preheat oven to 350'F.
9For the Bechamel, heat the milk and cream together in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until simmering.
10In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly for 2 minutes.
11Pour the warm milk and cream mixture into the butter and flour mixture, whisking constantly. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, over medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes, until smooth and thick.
12Add the nutmeg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Stir in 3/4 cup of Parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup of the tomato and meat sauce, and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Stir in the eggs and yogurt and set aside.
13Butter a 9x13 Baking dish, you can lay the pasta down, add the tomato meat sauce, then the Bechamel sauce and add the remaining 3/4 cups of freshly grated Parmesan cheese or....
14You also again butter a 9x13 baking dish. Mix the pasta with the tomato meat sauce, place into baking dish and top with Bechamel Sauce and top with the remaining 3/4 cups of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
15Bake for about 45 minutes to 1 hours until top is lightly browned and dish is bubbling. Set aside and cool for 10 minutes. Serve dish while hot.
16*Note: You can freeze this dish and then cook when your ready to make for dinner. You have to cook longer but have topping lightly browned and mixture bubbling. About 1 1/2 hours or so depending on your oven.
17*Serve with fresh warm bread and a fresh green salad with balsamic vinaigrette dressing.