Tag Archives: Greek food

Pastitsio (Baked Macaroni and Meat)

1 Jan

Last year for New Year’s Day, I cooked a variety of Greek dishes for my family, and continued on with that tradition this year.  It’s the best time to make all this food, lots of hands here to help with the preparations.  I really love Pastitsio.  It’s almost like a lasagna or baked Italian pasta dish would be, just seasoned a little differently.  It’s a little time-consuming to get all the parts done, but worth it in the end.  This can be made up ahead of time and frozen just before baking, then thawed and baked when you are ready to have it.

Pastitsio (Baked Macaroni and Meat)

1 lb macaroni (supposed to be long macaroni noodles, but they are hard to find, so elbow macaroni or a noodle like penne or ziti works too)
3 eggs
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
Grated Kefalotiri, Parmesan, or Romano cheese
1 lb ground beef or lamb
1 medium onion
1 12 oz can tomato paste
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Cream sauce (krema):
2-1/2 cups milk
2 eggs
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup butter
Salt and pepper to taste

How to make it:

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Boil macaroni according to package; drain; return to pan.  Melt the 1/2 cup butter, beat in eggs, and stir in with macaroni.  Spray a 9″ X 13″ X 2″ pan. Add macaroni mixture to pan and press down with a piece of wax paper.  Sprinkle generously with the grated cheese.

Meanwhile, in a skillet, brown onion and ground beef or lamb; add tomato paste and seasonings.  Cook for 5 – 10 minutes.  Spread meat mixture over macaroni noodles in pan and spread evenly.

Meanwhile, make cream sauce. Melt 1/4 cup butter and pour in 1/4 cup flour; brown slowly. Beat 2 eggs with 2-1/2 cups milk, salt, and pepper, and pour into butter and flour mixture very slowly; mix well. Cook over low heat until it thickens. Pour over macaroni/meat mixture.

Bake in preheated oven for 45 – 50 minutes, or until golden brown.

Freezes best unbaked, thawed for 1/2 hour, then baked as above.

Dolmathes (Stuffed Grape Leaves)

17 Oct

I wish this dish wasn’t so time-consuming, because I would make them a lot more!  There is just something about grape leaves and the filling that makes this so delicious.  Normally, I use bottled lemon juice, but this time I still had lemons from Bountiful Baskets from the previous week.  Also, I used fresh garlic over the jarred garlic I would normally use.  It was a nice change to make it with fresh ingredients.

Dolmathes (Stuffed Grape Leaves)

What you need:

1 jar (16 oz) grape leaves, drained and rinsed

1 lb lean lamb or beef, coarsely ground or chopped
1 cup raw long grain rice
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 tsp dried dill weed
1 tsp allspice
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup olive oil
juice of 1 lemon

2 cups basic chicken stock or canned broth
juice of 1 lemon

How to Make it:

Mix all ingredients for filling. Pick out the smallest leaves in the jar and set aside. Cut of the stems of the remaining grape leaves.  Using a 2-quart, heavy-lidded pot, create a single layer of the smaller leaves.

Spread leaf on counter with the vein side facing you.   Place about 2 Tbsp of filling in the center of the leaf.

Fold the stem end over the filling, then fold the sides over to secure the filling, then roll away from you toward the tip of the leave, creating a small cylinder.

Size should be about 3″ long by 1″ wide. Do not wrap too tightly as rice needs room for expansion during cooking.

Place the stuffed leaves in pot up against each other rather tightly so they do not come undone.

Multiple layers of stuffed leaves may be needed, so place layer of the smaller, unrolled leaves in between each layer. Top with remaining unrolled leaves.  This jar of grape leaves and the amount of filling allowed for 24 stuffed leaves (2 layers of 12 stuffed leaves), with 2 leaves on bottom, 2 leaves in between the 2 layers, and 2 leaves on top.  Mix the chicken stock and lemon juice, and pour over the leaves in the pot.  Cover and bring to a light simmer.  Cook for 1 hour. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 15 minutes.  Do not remove lid or leaves will darken. Serve warm.


Printable Recipe:

Dolmathes (Stuffed Grape Leaves)

Spanakopita (Spinach Pie)

12 Sep

My mom’s side of the family is Greek, and growing up, we lived in the same town as my grandparents.  And no, not next door like in My Big Fat Greek Wedding.  We did get to see them often, though, and I did get a chance to learn some Greek traditions, attend some services at the Greek Orthodox church, and learn how to cook some traditional Greek dishes.  This also means that most of the dishes I learned how to make, I make from memory or sight, add a handful of this, a little of this, a little of that, until it looks right.  However, I have measured out the way I make spanakopita to my taste, and when I got all the spinach from Bountiful Baskets over the last 2 weeks, I knew I wanted to make this to be able to share how I make it since I get asked a lot.  So, here we go!


1 roll phyllo dough (You can find this in your grocery’s freezer section with the pies and baked goods)
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted

Filling for spanakopita:
2 lb fresh spinach, chopped, or 3-10oz pkgs frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 lb feta cheese, crumbled
4 eggs
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp dried dill weed

How to put it together:

Preheat oven to 325 F.  Combine the ingredients for the filling and set aside.  Brush bottom and sides of 12″ X 18″ jelly roll pan with melted butter.   Lay phyllo dough in bottom of pan, and brush completely with butter. (Note: Depending on the size of your pan and the size of dough you find, you may need multiple pieces of phyllo dough to cover the bottom of the pan) Repeat the process of laying dough and buttering to create 5-6 layers of dough.  Pour filling over phyllo dough and spread evenly.

Spreading the filling on the phyllo dough

Place a layer of phyllo dough over the filling, again, brushing it completely with butter. Repeat the process of laying dough and buttering until you have 3-4 layers.

Score through top layers of the pastry with a sharp knife. I cut mine in straight lines to make squares, then add diagonal cuts to make triangles.  Pour remaining butter over.

Bake for 1 hour or until pastry is golden brown (see picture at top). Remove to rack and cool for 5 minutes.  Cut and serve!


You can find the cheese version of this, Tiropita, in this post.

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