Someone from another blog asked about favorite meals, and I said this was one of ours. Since I have the recipe on my computer I thought I'd just transfer it to my blog. Pastitsio is a Greek dish that probably was originally Italian. You can find pastitsio at Greek festivals everywhere, but this version came originally from Food and Wine Magazine and had meat in it. I made it meatless and I think it's so much better (sorry, heresy!) than the kind you get at festivals.
I use penne instead of ziti, because I can't ever find ziti. And nowadays, I always make a small dish of vegan pastitsio alongside, for Hibi. I just make a small amount of bechamel using soy milk and olive oil, and either omit the cheese or use soy cheese.
1 quart milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup plus one tablespoon all-purpose flour
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Two tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon allspice
2 tablespoons tomato paste
½ cup dry red wine
2 ½ cups chopped canned or fresh tomatoes, with juices
½ cup tomato sauce
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon sugar
1 pound ziti or penne or rigatoni
¾ cup freshly grated Pecorino-Romano cheese (4 ½ ounces)
2 large egg yolks
In a medium saucepan or in the microwave, heat the milk until bubbles appear around the edge. In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk over moderately high heat until light golden, about 1 minutes. Gradually whisk in the hot milk and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to moderately low and cook, stirring, until the sauce is thick, about 8 minutes. Season with 1 teaspoon of salt, ¼ teaspoon of pepper, and ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg. Press plastic wrap directly onto the sauce and let cool.
Heat the oil in a large pan. Add onion and cook over moderate heat until softened, but not brown, about 3 minutes. Stir in the cinnamon, allspice, and 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, and then add the tomato paste. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until the wine is nearly evaporated. Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, oregano and sugar. Season the tomato mixture with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat for about 30 minutes, until flavors are well blended and the sauce is thickened slightly.
Meanwhile, cook the ziti in a large pot of boiling salted water until barely al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain well, blot the pasta dry with a clean towel, and let cool.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly butter a 13 X 9 inch baking dish. Line the bottom of the dish with half of the ziti. Spread two cups of the white sauce on top of the ziti and then cover with the tomato sauce. Sprinkle with ¼ cup of the cheese. Top with remaining ziti. Stir the egg yolks into the remaining white sauce and spread the sauce over the ziti. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and bake for 40 minutes, or until the edges of the ziti are golden and the sauce is bubbling. Let the pastitsio stand for 20 minutes before serving.