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Lunch / Dinner

Greek Penne Pastitsio

Pastitsio [pah-STEET-see-oh] is a classic Greek baked pasta dish made with a ground lamb tomato sauce that’s kissed with cinnamon. This one has kalamata olives and pepperoncini for unexpected hits of flavor. Then, all that goodness gets topped with a creamy béchamel.

Here, eggs and salty feta cheese help this Greek-style béchamel set up once baked, and it totally completes this incredibly comforting casserole. But a word about the pasta, to prevent the penne from becoming too soft, undercook it before adding it to the meat sauce.


8 servings

Total Time

about 1 hour

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Test Kitchen Tip

If lamb isn’t your thing, use ground chuck in it’s place.


Preheat oven to 400°. Coat a 9×13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray.

For the casserole, cook penne in a pot of boiling salted water 2 minutes less than package directions; drain.

Heat oil in a skillet over mediumhigh. Add onions and cook until softened, 3 minutes. Add lamb, olives, pepperoncini, garlic, tomato paste, oregano, thyme, cinnamon, and pepper flakes; cook, breaking up chunks of lamb with a wooden spoon, until cooked through, 5 minutes.

Deglaze skillet with wine; cook until evaporated, 2 minutes. Stir in crushed tomatoes, bring sauce to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 10 minutes. Season sauce with salt and black pepper, stir in penne, then transfer to prepared dish.

For the béchamel, melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour and garlic; cook 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in milk, then add cloves; simmer until thickened, 5 minutes.

Whisk eggs in a bowl, add ½ cup milk mixture to eggs, then whisk back into milk mixture. Stir in feta and parsley; season béchamel with salt and black pepper. Pour béchamel over penne mixture. Bake pastitsio until bubbly and top is golden, 3540 minutes; let stand 5 minutes before serving.


After cooking the ground meat, remove some of the drippings if they seem excessive.


So the eggs don’t curdle, temper them by using a small amount of the hot milk to warm them up.

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