Sunday, March 21, 2010

Zenon Taverna's Pastichio with a Cypriot Twist

I love Greek food! And how could you not living in a neighborhood like ours, so rich in Greek culture.  There are many Greek food favorites I've acquired over the years of living in Astoria, but none compare to the indulgence of a wonderful pasta dish called Pastichio. 

What exactly is Pastichio?
Simply put, Pastichio is a Greek-style lasagna - a layered pasta dish with ground meat (pork or lamb) topped with rich bechamel sauce and salty halloumi cheese. It's very similar to moussaka except that instead of layers of eggplant, it uses a hollow noodle pasta you can get in a specialty foods store or even a local supermarket these days.

Yesterday was my first time making Pastichio and it went pretty well.  Although you have to block out a solid chunk of time when making this, the results are worth it.  It not only looks beautiful, you'll also feel proud once you bite into its delicious contents.  I was especially happy to share it with my family today, and sure enough it passed my discerning father's taste test. "Very good Judika," he said.  He then packed more of it into a Tupperware dish for tomorrow's lunch.  I have yet to give it to a native Greek for a true taste test, but I'll get to that when the time is right.

The recipe for this dish was generously given to me by a local Greek restaurant favorite, Zenon Taverna.  A true family establishment, all dishes are made from family recipes and the matriarch of the kitchen herself makes the Pastichio.  I very much appreciate their willingness to share this recipe and I hope my efforts made them proud.

Zenon Taverna's Pastichio with a Cypriot Twist

Ingredients (serves 8-10)
1 package of “Misko” Greek pasta #2
1 ½ lb of ground pork
1 piece of ½ lb halloumi cheese, grated
1 cup of flour
Small bunch of parsley, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
Salt and pepper (to taste)
½ tsp of nutmeg
4 cups of milk (whole or low-fat)
8 oz of butter and more for greasing your baking dish
½ cup vegetable oil (soybean oil is recommended)
1 tbs mint
3 tbs of tomato paste
2 eggs


Boil water for the pasta and add some salt to it. After the pasta has cooked, drain and cool to stop the cooking process.

Pour vegetable oil in a medium-high heat frying pan and sautee the onion until soft and translucent. Turn down the heat to medium-low and add the ground pork. Stir until meat is cooked through and brown. Add salt and pepper to taste as well as a small bunch of chopped parsley and the tomato paste. Stir until tomato paste has dissolved. Drain the cooked meat to eliminate excess oil.

Pour milk into a sauce pan and warm on low heat (be careful not to let it boil). Add the nutmeg.

In the same pan you used to cook the meat, add the butter and let it melt on medium-low heat. Add the flour, a pinch of salt and 3 tbs of grated halloumi cheese. Mix thoroughly so that the raw flour dissipates in the butter. Stir for 3-5 minutes until the flour cooks and lower the flame to avoid bubbling. Add the warm milk and mix continuously until it boils. Remove from flame and stir it a bit. Add the eggs and continue to mix until incorporated. Now you have your béchamel sauce.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees and butter a deep baking dish.

Now go back to the cooled pasta and add the mint, 3 tbs of grated halloumi, 1 tbs of the cooked meat and 2 tbs of béchamel sauce. Incorporate this with your hands.

Pour half of prepared pasta on the bottom of your baking dish. Add the meat to fully cover the pasta and then add the rest of the pasta to cover the meat. Cover the top layer of pasta with béchamel sauce and make sure it’s fully covered so the pasta doesn’t burn. Add grated halloumi cheese on top and bake for about 20-30 minutes or until the béchamel darkens on top.


  1. Thanks for the tasty recipe, I have never tried to make it but love to eat greek lasagna.

  2. Mmm... hearing about this on Martha has made me want to try the 'Greek Lasagna'!

  3. This recipe is really great guys - and if you want another fabulous rendition please try Zenon Taverna's. It's out of this world!



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...