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Prep Time: 1 hr | Cook Time: 45 mins | Total Time: 1 hr 45 mins | Servings: 8

This is one of the best, very comforting meals that is great for entertaining. Ina Garten’s Pastitsio with rich tomato meat sauce, cheesy Bechamel, and Parmesan cheese. It’s a scrumptious dish that is hard to ignore!


Meat Sauce:

1 lb lean ground beef

1 lb lean ground lamb (or use pork)

1 tbsp minced garlic (3 large cloves)

3 tbsp olive oil

1 large yellow onion, diced

1/2 c. dry red wine

1 tbsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp fresh thyme leaves

1 can (28 oz.) San Marzano tomatoes

1 tsp dried oregano

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pinch of cayenne pepper


4 tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

2 1/2 c. low-fat milk

1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1 1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan, divided

3/4 lb small shells, preferably ziti noodles

2/3 c. Greek yoghurt

1/4 c. all-purpose flour

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

How to make Ina Garten’s Pastitsio

Meat Sauce:

Step 1: Heat olive oil in a large pot (preferably a Dutch Oven) over medium-high heat. To the hot oil, add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes until tender. Then, add the ground beef and lamb. Continue to cook for additional 10 minutes, breaking the meat into small pieces using a spoon, until browned. Drain the excess liquid before pouring in the wine. Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes or until most of the wine has been absorbed.


Step 2: To the pot, add the garlic along with the cinnamon, oregano, thyme, and cayenne. Cook further to let the flavors incorporate. This takes 5 minutes more.

Step 3: Next, add the tomatoes followed by 2 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper. If needed, crush the tomatoes using a spoon. Let everything simmer for about 40 to 45 minutes, stirring often.

Step 4: Remove from the heat when done and set aside.


Step 5: Prepare the oven. Preheat it to 350 degrees F.

Step 6: In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, add the flour. Using a wooden spoon, stir and cook for about 2 minutes until the raw smell of flour is gone.

Step 7: Pour in the milk, stirring constantly. Increase the heat to a simmer and cook for another 7 to 8 minutes, stirring often, until the milk has thickened enough to coat the back of the spoon. Then, add the nutmeg along with 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper. Adjust the seasoning according to taste. Next, whisk in 3/4 c. Parmesan cheese. Take the pan off the heat and let the mixture cool for about 10 minutes before stirring in the Greek yoghurt. Set aside.

Step 8: In the meantime, cook the pasta following the package directions until al dente. Drain when done and transfer into the tomato-meat sauce. Stir and pour everything into a 9 x 13-inch lasagna baking dish. Over the Bechamel, evenly sprinkle the rest of the cheese. If desired, you can sprinkle shredded mozzarella, too.

Step 9: Place in the preheated oven and bake for about 45 to 60 minutes or until bubbly and golden-brown.


You can also make this dish in advance. Simply prep the meat/tomato sauce and the Bechamel the night before. The next day, make the pasta, assemble, and bake.


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