Taste the World - Cyprus - Pastitsio - Cypriot Baked Pasta

*Official name: Republic of Cyprus *Capital: Nicosia *Official Languages: Greek, Turkish *Government: Unitary presidential constitutional republic *Area: 3,572 sq mi *Population: (2013 estimate) 1,141,166 *Currency: Euro (EUR) *Time Zone: EET, EEST (summer) *Drives on the: left *International code: CY (data from Wikipedia)

For Cyprus, I made Pastitio, a baked pasta dish. I used penne pasta, because I didn't have any pastitio style pasta. Any tubular pasta will work for this recipe. The result was a hearty baked dish with a spiced meat with pasta, with an eggy/cheese top. A great comfort food.

Pastitio (Cypriot Baked Pasta)

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 sticks celery, diced
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 C red wine, grape juice or water
  • 1 lb tomatoes, blanched and skinned (fresh or from a can)
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 lb Pastitio pasta(or another tubular style pasta)
  • 2 tsp butter
  • 1/2 C Kefalotiri (white hard goat cheese), grated
  • 1 C unsalted butter
  • 1 C butter
  • 1 quart milk, warmed
  • 8 egg yolks, beaten lightly
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
 Blanching tomatoes before skinning.

Blanching tomatoes before skinning.

Directions:

  1. Heat olive oil in a pan and saute the onion and celery for about 10 mins.
  2. Add the ground beef and brown for 5 minutes. Add the wine (grape juice or water) and cook a further 5 minutes. 
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3. Add the blanched tomatoes, cinnamon and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook a further 30 mins. Set aside.

4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

5. Cook the pasta in large pan of salted water. Drain and run under cold water.

6. Butter a deep baking dish and layer the pasta and then pour over the meat sauce. Place in refrigerator.

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7. Make the bechamel sauce by gently heating the milk. Remove from heat. In a pan melt the butter and add the flour and cook until slightly golden.

8. Slowly add the milk into the butter/flour mix. Do this off the heat and use a whisk to make a smooth sauce. Cook over a low heat until thickened. Cool slightly. Beat in eggs and add the nutmeg.

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9. Pour this over the meat and sprinkle with Kefalotiri cheese.

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10. Bake covered for 30 mins. Remove cover and bake an additional 10 minutes until golden brown. 

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