Pastitsio is a traditional Greek baked pasta dish that combines a savory cinnamon-spiced lamb sauce with pasta, and a cream-and-butter-based béchamel sauce topped with cheese, but you'll find this dairy-free version every bit as tasty and rich! Although it is usually baked in a casserole dish, for special occasions I like to bake pastitsio in small spring-form pans or individual ovenproof dishes. For a vegetarian option, substitute the ground lamb for a vegetarian ground meat substitute of your choice.
Serves 6 to 8
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
- For the Meat Sauce:
- 1 T. olive oil
- 1 cup finely chopped white onion
- 2 lbs. ground lamb
- 1 ½ t. salt, plus more to taste
- ¼ t. ground black pepper
- 1 ½ t. ground cinnamon
- ¼ cup dry red wine
- 1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes, no-salt added variety
- 1 cup water
- 12 ounces small tubular pasta, such as macaroni or ziti
- For the Béchamel
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 3 T. all-purpose flour
- 1 cup soy yogurt
- 1 ¼ cup soymilk
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 t. salt
- 2 egg whites, lightly beaten
1. Make the meat sauce. Heat the 1 T. olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and lamb and cook, stirring frequently to break apart the meat, until the onions are translucent and the lamb is cooked through. Add the spices and wine and cook until the liquid is absorbed. Stir in the tomatoes and water and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes.
2. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Lightly oil a 2-quart baking dish, or individual ovenproof dishes and set aside.
3. Boil a large pot of salted water. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, toss with a small amount of oil and set aside until ready to assemble the pastitsio.
4. Prepare the Béchamel. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan or skillet over medium heat, heat the oil, whisking in the flour and cooking until mixture begins to thicken, about 1-2 minutes. Stirring constantly, add the soy yogurt, soymilk, nutritional yeast and salt. Cook until mixture begins to thicken. Remove from heat and whisk for 1-2 minutes to help the mixture to cool slightly. Set aside.
4. Assemble the pastitsio. Stir the noodles in the meat sauce and pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Whisk a small amount of the béchamel into the egg whites, taking care not to cook the whites, and then add the rest in small increments, whisking constantly. Pour this on top of the pasta-meat mixture and bake until golden brown, about 35-45 minutes. Serve hot.