Pastitsio Pastetseo Potato Patato


Titled Pastetseo in “The Art of Good Cooking,” with only a brief introduction stating that the recipe may be Greek or Syrian, I wanted to know more about this multilayer lamb casserole with the strange name. I naturally turned to google but was surprised that nothing came up. Unable to resist the excessive layering of ground lamb, pasta, cheese, sauce, and eggplant, I moved forward with this recipe for Pastetseo and figured I would continue my research on it’s name and origin another time. It wasn’t until later, when I happened to be enjoying the delicious leftovers of this casserole that reminds me of a gourmet hamburger helper (but way better), that I came across an article about a Greek Easter feast in a magazine I was flipping through. A full page photo of a casserole and a recipe next to it titled “Pastitsio” caught my eye. The ingredients were almost the same, give or take few minor ones, and the eggplant was missing (one of best parts, in my opinion). Mystery solved. Googling “Pastitsio” brings up tons of photos, recipes, and info. This moussaka like casserole appears to be Greek, but even with the correct spelling online, the exact origin seems debatable since Cyprus, Egypt, and Malta all seem to have similar versions. Since I still haven’t found any recipes online that include eggplant, I’m not sure where this addition came from but it definitely gives this Pastitsio another unique layer of flavor that in my opinion makes it better than any of the others out there. Enjoy.


1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter
1 pound ground lamb
1 28oz can plum tomatoes, slightly drained
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/3 pound elbow macaroni, cooked and drained
1 large eggplant, peeled, sliced 1/4″ thick, lightly salted, and sauteed in olive oil until tender and brown
1 recipe Cheese Custard (recipe follows)
salt, pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Saute onion and garlic in 2 tablespoons butter until soft. Add the lamb and cook for about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes. Break up meat and tomatoes with a spoon or fork and cook until mixture is almost dry. Season well with salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Add eggs and 1/3 of a cup of grated cheese.

Combine the mixture with cooked, drained macaroni and pour into a deep well-greased baking dish. The dish should be about half full. Place slices of sauteed eggplant over the meat-macaroni mixture.

Pour the Cheese Custard (below) over all. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and an additional 2 tablespoons melted butter (optional). Bake for 45 minutes or until custard is set and browned. Serves 4-6.

Cheese Custard


1 tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups milk, heated
3 beaten eggs
1 cup ricotta cheese
salt and pepper

Melt butter in saucepan. Add cornstarch and cook over low heat, stirring constantly. Add hot milk and cook until slightly thickened. Pour some of the thickened hot sauce into the beaten eggs, beating constantly. Then pour egg mixture into the rest of the hot sauce, beating while you pour. Remove from flame and beat in ricotta cheese. Season lightly with salt and pepper.


Creamed Oyster and Noodle Casserole

Creamed Oyster and Noodle Casserole

When I first came across this in the stack of unpublished recipes my grandmother left behind, I thought it was somewhat of a waste of perfectly tasty fresh oysters and the flavor could be savored more appropriately by eating them on the half shell. To be honest, the idea of a casserole made with any form of seafood mostly reminded me of the somewhat frumpy old fashioned tuna casserole. With such a strong emphasis on fresh oyster flavor, this dish is far from a waste or old and frumpy. The oyster liquor (a fancy word for the juice of the oyster) provides an ocean freshness like the smell of salty sea air at low tide (cliche enough?). Chunks of oyster complete the dish and who doesn’t love noodles!

The original recipe called for poppy seeds, which I left out because it just doesn’t seem to add anything to the dish. I did, however; add lemon juice, which cuts nicely through the fat of the half and half. And if used, grated Parmesan sprinkled on top with bread crumbs complements the saltiness of the oysters.

I made this for Christmas Eve this year and was pleasantly surprised that my 12 year old cousin took both seconds and thirds – proof of how delicious this casserole really is…

1/2 a 16oz package broad egg noodles
1/4 cup unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups hot half and half or heavy cream mixed with
1/2 cup hot oyster liquor
1/2 lemon juiced
pinch cayenne or 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce (optional)
salt and white pepper to taste
2 dozen raw oysters, cut in quarters
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
3/4 cup fresh white bread crumbs or panko bread crumbs mixed with
1/4 cup melted butter and sauteed until just golden
grated Parmesan (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and butter a casserole dish (roughly 1-1 1/2 quarts)
Cook noodles in plenty of boiling, salted water until just tender. Drain and place noodles in a bowl.
In a heavy pot, melt butter. Stir in flour, and cook for about four minutes, stirring constantly. Add combined cream and oyster liquor, again stirring constantly. Use a small wire whisk when adding liquid to butter flour mixture to break up any lumps. Add lemon juice and cayenne or Tabasco (if using). Season well with salt and pepper. Add quartered oysters, tarragon, and chopped parsley. Add this mixture to noodles in bowl and toss gently together.
Pour into buttered casserole. Sprinkle golden bread crumbs and Parmesan over top. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until very hot. Serve at once.

Note: Casserole maybe prepared ahead and refrigerated up to the point of sprinkling bread crumbs. Remove from refrigerator at least an hour and half before baking.

Serves 4 – 6.


1 2