Monday, November 2, 2015

Easy Greek Patitsio

I had never heard of this dish before I ran across it in a cooking magazine, but I thought it would be worth trying.

After all, who doesn't like Greek food?

Except this recipe doesn't contain any of the traditional things we Americans think of when someone mentions Greek food. No olives. No Feta cheese. No artichokes.

But flavor? Oh yes, this has the fabulous flavor I look for in Greek dishes - even Americanized ones like this.

This recipe is more complex than most of the meals I make, but it's still quite easy to make, and worth the extra steps!

Easy Greek Patitsio

first layer:

The first layer is easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy. Cook 1 1/2 cups penne pasta until al dente. You want it done, but slightly firm.

Mix the cooked penne with 1 Tablespoon melted butter and 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese.

Spread the pasta/cheese combo in the bottom of a 9" square baking dish.

second layer:

For the next layer, brown 1 pound ground beef, drain, then return to the pan. Add 2 Tablespoons minced onion and 2 cloves minced garlic. Cook and stir until the onion and garlic are soft. You'll know they're done when they release their delicious aroma.

Now add 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Make that a scant 1/4 teaspoon of the cinnamon. You don't want to taste the cinnamon in this dish - you want just enough to add a rich depth to the flavor.

Cook, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes, or until heated through.

Spoon the meat over your pasta/cheese layer.

Sprinkle 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese over the meat.

third layer:

For the final layer, you're going to make a Bechamel sauce. That's basically a rich white sauce. This version includes an egg.

First, make a roux from 1/4 cup butter, 1/3 cup all-purpose flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

To make a roux, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in the flour/salt slowly, and lower the heat if the butter starts to brown. When it looks like the picture above, let it cook over low heat for about one minute.

Add 2 cups milk v-e-r-y slowly. Use a whisk, and add the milk a few Tablespoons at a time, increasing the amount you add as the roux becomes thinner and starts turning into a sauce.

Once all the milk is added, lightly beat an egg in a small bowl. Add some of the hot sauce to the egg, whisking it together thoroughly, then add the egg/sauce mixture to the rest of the sauce. Continue to whisk constantly, turn the heat up a little, and bring to a gentle boil. Once the sauce is boiling, continue to cook and stir for about 2 minutes.

Pour the sauce over the meat mixture and add another 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese.

Now the hard part is done!

Cover the dish and bake it at 350° for 20 minutes.

Remove the cover and bake for an additional 35-40 minutes, until lightly browned.

This was so good! 

You can also double the recipe and bake it in a 9"x13" pan.

The square pan serves 6, the 9"x13" would serve 12.

You may ask why I'm so partial to Greek food...the Greek language...the Greek landscape...

I could blame it on John Stamos, but I won't :)

Actually, I blame it on a dear pastor friend of ours who was from Greece. He taught us the correct way to pronounce Nicodemus, and I still hear his voice when I write "Isaiah." Good memories. :)


  1. How did I forget Patitsio????? We had this for a special now and again at the Greek restaurant where I worked for eleven years!!!!!

    Jan, I've never made it at home, now I must try it. Dave will love it and so will I!

    And I just bought a big container of shredded Parmesan and a chunk of Asiago because I love cheese!!!! Perfect timing, my friend!

    And the Greek owner told me that this can be made a day or two ahead, kept cold, and then baked prior to serving and loses nothing in the flavor or texture . So how perfect for a make-ahead meal?

    I messed up last week after being gone, and had to go back and see those great ideas, but it's good to be home, annoying folks again!

    1. So good to see you back, Ruthy! We missed you, but what can compare with a week away once in a while?

      I had forgotten you worked at a Greek restaurant (remembered the restaurant, forgot the Greek part :) ). You'll have to share some of your favorite Greek dishes!

      And I was surprised at how easy this version was to make. Just break it down into steps, and it's done in no time. A lot like cleaning the house, right? :)

  2. Sounds yummy Jan and I like Ruthy's idea to fix ahead of time for a quick meal some other day.

    1. I'll have to try doing this a day ahead. One thing I noticed with the leftovers was that the pasta held together better, making the whole serving firmer. More like a block than a mess!

      And who doesn't need a quick meal on a busy day?

  3. I might try this using the vegan ground beef I've seen at the health food store but never tried. Never knew what to do with ground beef. LOL And the cinnamon is an interesting addition. Never would have thought of it...I have no imagination when it comes to cooking. Glad I can visit the café to broaden my horizons.

    1. You know, I was wondering about using chili powder instead of cinnamon. But I'll definitely try the cinnamon once!

    2. The thing about the cinnamon is that you don't taste it! (If you do, then you know you've put in too much :) ).

      Have you ever tried cinnamon in your chili? It does the same thing - just deepens the flavors.

      And I can see this with the TVP crumbles, Kav. Is that the same as the vegan ground "beef"? The middle layer adds flavor and protein to the dish, so the vegetarian option is definitely doable.

  4. Oooohh, I will love this!! Thanks for sharing. I can't wait to make it!

  5. Funny, I was just sitting here with my lentils and brown rice that I smothered in cheese, thinking how cheese makes anything taste great. Then I open Yankee Belle to lots of CHEESE.

    This looks delicious, Jan!

    1. Cheese makes everything taste better! Enjoy your lentils and rice :)