Pastitsio Perfetto

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Pastitsio, sometimes spelt pastichio (or pasticcio in Italian), is a Greek and Mediterranean baked pasta dish, made with ground beef and béchamel sauce, with layers of pasta sandwiching the sauce. I have perfected the typical Greek flavour, with cinnamon, nutmeg & clove – and I defy anyone to spot that this is vegan in a blind tasting !

INGREDIENTS FOR THE SAUCE

olive oil

6 fresh plum tomatoes, processed in a food processor

1 large white onion, finely chopped

4 to 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 Tbsp tomato puree/paste

1 bayleaf

1½ tsp dried oregano

1 cinnamon stick

salt to taste (don’t omit this – it’s not a dessert)

2 tsp molasses or dark brown sugar

454g (1 lb) ground vegan mince (I used Linda McCartney) (or else TVP available here in US or UK)

¾ cup (180 mL) hot water

a pinch of clove powder (don’t omit)

INGREDIENTS FOR BÉCHAMEL

100g (3½ oz) margarine or any other vegan option

1 cup plain flour

2 Tbsp (30 mL) olive oil

¼ tsp nutmeg

2 cups vegan cheese of your choice, grated

700ml (24 fl oz) plain unsweetened soya milk (I use Alpro)

500g (17½ oz) medium hollow macaroni (I used Maglie di Zito rigate)

METHOD

  1. First boil the pasta according to packet instructions. Then drain, rinse well in cold water, and set aside.

For The Red Sauce

  1. Gently heat up your oil in a large non-stick pan, and fry your onion, mixing frequently. Add your garlic after a few minutes, and continue mixing.  Lower the heat, and allow to cook for a further minute or so.
  2. Next, add the tomato paste, continue mixing, and then add your vegan ground mince, together with the spices, herbs, salt and pepper. Allow to cook for 5 minutes or so, until the aroma from the mix begins to emerge.
  3. Now gently add the tomato pulp, and allow to simmer for 10 minutes, adding a little water at a time as it thickens.  Add the remaining ingredients, cover, and cook for a further 25 minutes, stirring intermittently so that it won’t stick.
  4. Taste for salt, then leave the sauce on minimum for a further 10 minutes, whilst you make your béchamel sauce.

For The Béchamel Sauce

  1. First gently heat the margarine until it melts in a small heavy bottomed pan.
  2. Meanwhile, get the remaining ingredients (except for the grated cheese) and blend in your food processor.
  3. Gently pour into the buttered heated pan, mixing constantly until the white sauce begins to thicken. Then add the grated cheese, and continue to mix for a minute.  Remove from heat once it has thickened.  The trick with this sauce is to mix all the time and taste it for salt.

Assembling For Baking

  1. First mix in one ladle of the béchamel sauce to half of the pasta, then place this in a greased ovenproof dish, evening it out once you have done so.
  2. Next, gently spoon the ground mince sauce evenly over the pasta.
  3. Now add the remaining pasta evenly, and then pour the remaining white béchamel sauce on top.
  4. Place in a hot 400ºF (200ºC) oven for 45 minutes, until it has gone golden on top.  Then drizzle on a little olive oil.  Allow to stand for 15 minutes before serving.
  5. Serve with a Greek salad, with black olives, and Enjoy !

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All recipes and content © Miriam Sorrell mouthwateringvegan.com 2010

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23 Responses to “Pastitsio Perfetto”

  1. Jameela Says:

    DAMN, but this looks good! I am in the process of moving back to the UK so hopefully will have access to all ingredients soon :D

  2. Miriam Says:

    Jameela Hi there, you will enjoy this many times over I am sure, do not worry, it will be right here waiting for you, and I too will await your feedback as and when you have made and tasted this. Be sure to celebrate and commemorate your return with this dish at some point – Enjoy and best of luck in your ventures ! :)

  3. nuu Says:

    If one doesn’t have cinnamon sticks, how much ground cinnamon would you suggest using?

  4. Miriam Says:

    Just under quarter of a teaspoon.

  5. Clare Says:

    Looks lovely.. (and I have recently ordered your book, looking forward to receiving it.) Thank you for all the recipes you share – brilliant.

  6. Miriam Says:

    I hope you try this out Clare. Thanks for pre-ordering my book too ! Best your way in the meantime. :)

  7. kikimora Says:

    Looks delicious! My casseroles are generally easy to break and not really photogenic. I’d love to try this recipe, but I’d prefer to put some veggies into it (carrot? pepper?). Vegan Cheese is also difficult to get in my country (Poland), so I would omit it. It is not necessary to add it to vegan bechamel, I personally use nutritional yeast.

  8. Miriam Says:

    Hi Kikimora – here is a cheese sauce made with nutritional yeast that you may find useful http://mouthwateringvegan.com/2012/11/13/golden-cheddar’d-potatoes/ also feel free to use pre-cooked and drained puy lentils instead of faux meat. Best and hope you enjoy it ! :)

  9. nuu Says:

    I made this today; it was fantastic! I admit that I left the cheese out of the white sauce because that’s how I usually make bechamel sauce, but even so, it was so very good.

    Thank-you for this lovely recipe. ^_^

  10. Miriam Says:

    Your welcome Nuu, glad you enjoyed it so ! :)

  11. Carol Says:

    This looks decadent! Had a quiet chuckle when you say “I used Linda McCartney” – haha! Visions…visions!! :-)

    I can’t get all the ingredients in South Africa but I am going to definitely have a bash at this, with what I can get. Am going to try making it tonight. Thanks Miriam!

  12. Miriam Says:

    Let me know how it goes Carol ! Enjoy !:)

  13. Miriam Says:

    :)

  14. Voula Says:

    My parents always made the BEST pastitsio, hands down! Now I’m thrilled to see a vegan version!!
    For the margarine, do you have a different option that doesn’t contain palm oil, like coconut butter?
    And for the cheese, is it ok to use Daiya brand mozzarella or cheddar?
    Many thanks, Miriam, you’re incredible!

    Voula

  15. Miriam Says:

    Voula Hi and thanks for dropping by here. Refined coconut oil will do instead of vegan non-dairy margarine. Daiya cheese is ideal and/or vegan cheddar, I like to mix my vegan cheeses when I can. Let me know how it goes and enjoy ! (I have very good cheese recipes in my book, just a future thought). Cheers ! :)

  16. Voula Says:

    Pastitsio Heaven….
    I made it this weekend, and my daughter and I both loved it! She’s asking me to make it again tonight! I had to improvise a bit ’cause I didn’t have all the ingredients, but I just HAD to make it (I haven’t eaten pastitsio in almost 2 years since going vegan), so…
    I used spaghetti sauce in a jar instead of tomatoes, ground cinnamon (about a tsp or so) instead of a stick.
    For the milk I used almond milk instead of soya.
    I used Daiya mozzarella for the cheese.
    The nutmeg, clove and bay leaf are super important, they give that ‘taste’ to this awesome dish!
    I can’t thank you enough, Miriam!
    Btw, I made your Luscious Red Velvet cake, and brought it to work. Grown men were in tears…and the Chocoholics Cheesecake (people actually begged me for the recipe)…divine!
    You’re the best!

  17. Miriam Says:

    Voula Hi, thanks so much for dropping by here with your comment and feedback. I am delighted it all worked so well and even more delighted that the other desserts where really loved by your friends at work, that’s awesome news ! I have been nominated for the VEGFEST UK AWARDS and would dearly love if you took a few seconds out to vote for my blog Mouthwatering Vegan Recipes. If you do, please say so so that I can thank you personally. Here is the link : http://www.vegfest.co.uk/vote

  18. Amy Says:

    My family isn’t very used to vegan food. I try to introduce a little here and there. Do you think it would be ok to spin this recipe to where it was a normal Pastitsio? Let them taste and fall in love with it and then slowly take out one regular ingredient at a time and replace with a vegan one? That’s usually how I’ve been able for them to end up loving vegan dishes. Do you think this one would hold up well to that? I’m excited to try it, it sounds delicious!

  19. Miriam Says:

    Amy Hi – thanks for dropping by here. Most of my recipes if not all hold up well for non-vegans, I say this because we entertain a great deal of non-vegans on this blog, so many followers write to say that their non-vegan family and friends love my recipes. I understand your situation and where you are coming from and my ethos is all about ‘taste, taste, taste’ if it tastes good there is no need for alterations etc. The sauces in this dish are sublime, it’s up to you if you wish to change this, but I assure you it will hold up well on it’s own served with a salad – try the Middle Eastern salad with it. Good luck and enjoy ! :)

  20. Amy Says:

    You’re absolutely right! They family is going full-vegan tonight with this one hehe. Thanks again for sharing your wonderful recipes and time with us! I will be back, searching for the next vegan family meal soon ;)

  21. Miriam Says:

    Let me know how it goes. :)

  22. adam Says:

    Question,

    I want to make this but with almond milk since my family does not consume soy milk. Does it taste nutty? Needless to say i’m scared

  23. Miriam Says:

    No need to be scared Adam, just make sure you use an unsweetened vegan milk is all. You can use 1 cup of cashews (pre-soaked) and then added in a liquidizer and blended with 2 cups of water until smooth. Or purchase unsweetned vegan milk. Hope you enjoy it ! :)

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