Pastitsio: a Greek baked dish made of ground meat layered with pasta and usually topped with white sauce and cheese.  Thank you Merriam-Webster On-Line Dictionary 🙂

When we go to our favorite Greek Restaurant I always want to order this dish.  I never do.  Why?  Because I know that one of the ingredients is cinnamon.  Yes, I do love cinnamon…in my cookies, pies, buns (cinnamon buns….!)…ect…but NOT in my savory food.  OR SO I THOUGHT!

Here’s the deal: (and pardon the TMI) when I was pregnant with my daughters, I was sick like a dog.  ALL 40 WEEKS (who ever said it’s 9 months is a LIAR!) I actually lost weight (don’t think it was fun!) I could hardly drink water without getting sick.  Everything was nauseating and gross.  My brother is an amazing cook. (he is!)  He was trying a new spaghetti sauce in which he put cinnamon….oh dear lord!  I lost it.  It was ugly.  I felt bad for him because I know he did everything right but I was a hot mess.  My sister in law even reminded me when we visited for spring break!

I decided to make this recipe and get over my “fear” of cinnamon in savory dishes…way to go Isabelle!  Also I figure since it’s been 13 years since I was pregnant with Bear (not A bear…)  🙂


Recipe adapted: Food Network

Also inspired by:


For the pasta and filling:

Kosher salt

1 pound small pasta (elbow works, I had mini penne)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound ground lamb (beef is an OK substitute)

1 onion, chopped

1 medium carrot chopped

1 garlic clove crushed and chopped

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 cup dry white wine

1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

Freshly ground pepper

1 heaping tablespoons fresh thyme

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 cups grated kefalotyri or parmesan cheese (couldn’t find the greek cheese!)

1 tablespoon breadcrumbs

For the bechamel:

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups plain 2 percent Greek yogurt

1 cup milk

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

Pinch of nutmeg

Kosher salt

How to:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the pasta and cook as the label directs.  When the pasta is done, drain and return to the pot off the heat; stir in the butter, then the beaten eggs and 1 cup cheese until the pasta is coated.

the pasta (thank you Captain Obvious!)

Note: the directions tell you to cook the pasta and make the sauce at same time, no worries, make your pasta first and keep it covered until ready to assemble.

Make the filling:

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the meat and cook, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until browned, about 5 minutes.  Add the carrot, garlic and onion and cook until soft, about 5 more minutes. Add the Worcestershire sauce, cinnamon and wine and cook until the wine starts to evaporate, about 2 more minutes.  Add the crushed tomatoes, fresh thyme, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and bring to a simmer.  Cook for about 20 minutes.

the sauce (indeed Sir Apparent!)

Brush the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inchbaking dish with butter or cooking spray.  Spread half of the pasta in the dish, then top with the meat filling and the remaining pasta.

Make the bechamel:

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat.  Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking for about 1 minute. (Do not let the flour brown.) Whisk in the yogurt and milk, bring to a gentle simmer, whisking, until slightly thickened, about 5 more minutes. (Do not let the mixture boil.) Remove from the heat and whisk in the eggs, nutmeg and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

the bechamel (really? Mademoiselle Evident!)

Pour the bechamel evenly over the pasta in the baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup cheese and 1 tablespoon breadcrumbs and bake until golden, 40 to 45 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

the final layer before hitting the oven! (yes, Miss Unequivocal!)

fresh out of the oven (merci Madame Perspicuous)

Verdict: I am over the cinnamon fear/hatred in savory dishes.  Absolutely delicious, and the lamb…OMG the lamb is so amazing in this dish.

Note: it makes A LOT but I have to tell you that the leftovers were perfect and I would even venture to say BETTER…maybe I am just a cinnamon crazy gal after all!

Pastitsio= yummo 🙂

Printer Friendly: Pastitsio

Peace and Cinnamon!


Also on my friend Debi’s Blog: Recipes for my Boys 🙂 Go check it out:

Also here:


7 thoughts on “Pastitsio

  1. I have never tried lamb before. After reading this, ground lamb will be on the menu to try in your dish! I’ll even venture as far to say that I will try the cinnamon too 🙂

  2. You ROCK Cinnamon Girl! ! salute you! I didn’t go thru the same pregnancy trauma you did, but I do understand how it is to never even want to think about something that made you horribly ill in the past! YUCK!!! And guess what! The reason I’ve never eaten Pastitsio is that it has – you know – cinnamon in it. Yes. Now my secret is out! You still love me though, right? RIGHT?!?!? Thank you Isabelle! xoxoxo

  3. LOVELY! I want some right now for breakfast minus the lamb that is. Just can’t eat the little darlin’s. Beef…yes! I’ve never tried this before either. Hubby made chili one time and used cinnamon in place of chili powder! UGH…I can just taste it now. lol I will make this though, sounds great!!! Thank you for sharing on Thursday’s Treasures Week 31 Love! ❤ and hugs!

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