Pastitsio a Greek comfort food is one of several filling, tasty, foods that is easily veganised. It’s also super nutritious if made with wholemeal pasta. The original Greek dish uses “pastitsio” macaroni which is long like spaghetti, but unlike spaghetti it’s hollow. I am unable to buy that in a wholemeal version so I use brown rice penne instead. I find that though it’s much shorter, it’s similar in size and shape so works just as well. An advantage is that it makes it easier to make a gluten free version because brown rice pasta doesn’t contain any gluten.
I’m being a bit controversial here, but allegedly this is a Greek pasta dish. To me, it seems very similar to Italian lasagne. Lasagne is of course layers of pasta with a “meat sauce” in between. So the big question, as with the “Cornish” or “Devon” pasty is who stole the idea? Was it the Greeks who stole the idea from the Italians, or the other way round? It really does seem to me that lasagne and pastitsio are rather similar!
It doesn’t matter though, because this pastitsio Greek comfort food is a great tasting meal. It’s not too difficult, and is very hearty and filling. I use brown rice thin tube pasta, available in Harvest in Bath. Overall it’s very nutritious and ticks all the right health boxes, especially when it’s eaten with cabbage or other steamed veggies.
I’ve added a little twist to the recipe as well. I coat the upper & lower layers of pasta in red & green vegan pesto. The pastitsio recipe also uses my amazing vegan meat sauce substitute which you can use in everything from Shepherdess Pie to vegan lasagne & moussaka. I make this meat sauce substitue, made from lentils, mushrooms and vegan mince in bulk, so preparing this lovely dish is a doddle.
Greek Pastitsio - a delicious dish new
- 1 Deep baking tray/dish – 25cm by 35cm approx.
- 1 Large pan or pasta pot to cook the pasta.
- 2 medium pans for the 2 sauces.
- 1 Stick blender is useful. not essential but very useful for the white sauce.....
- 1 Food processor not essential, but massively quicker and better
The savoury sauce
- 1000 g of my meat sauce replacement - see link here - Vegan meat sauce substitute - Phil's Vegan Recipes (philsveganrecipes.com)
The white sauce
- 110 g of cold pressed olive oil
- 130 g wholemeal flour
- 2 fl teasps of ground nutmeg
- 2 fl teasps veg stock
- 2 tbsps nutritional yeast flakes
- 1450 g soya milk - unsweetened
- 600 g pack of wholemeal tubular pasta - if you can find it! strictly speaking, it's like spaghetti – but hollow! Since you can't buy wholemeal I use brown rice pasta which is the right diameter if a lot shorter.
- 120 g Vegan red pesto to taste …….
- 120 g Vegan green pesto
The final layer
- 3 heaped tablespoons of breadcrumbs
- 100 g vegan grated cheese optional
- 1 teasp oregano optional
- 2 teasp smoked paprika optional
Making the meat substitute sauce
- Make a batch of it so you have it ready or defrost 1250g of a pre-prepared meat sauce substitute - see recipe for that - link in post.
- You can also saute some small chunks of pepper, aubergine or courgette to add into the sauce layer.
Making the white sauce.
- Weigh directly, into a medium saucepan, 130g of wholemeal flour and 110g cold-pressed olive or rapeseed oil.
- Cook on a medium heat until the flour is just beginning to brown, and smells toasty. Add in the nutmeg and cook a few seconds longer.
- Add in the stock powder.
- Pour in the soya milk whilst stirring. If it goes lumpy, don’t worry, just blend with a stick blender.
- Bring to a slow simmer, and then cook on a very low heat while it cooks and thickens.
Cooking the pasta
- Boil a large pan of water – adding some salt and oil.
- Add the pasta and cook according to the instructions, but use the upper limit or it will be too al dente.
Assembling & cooking the dish.
- Divide the pasta into 2 - you should have roughly 2 lots of 600g of cooked pasta. Into one batch add around 100g of green pesto.
- and 100g of red pesto into the other.
- Place half the pasta (red or green first) into a large DEEP baking tray.
- Then shake the dish to level it, or use the back of a spoon to get an even layer of pasta.
- Using a large serving spoon, ladle the sauce on top of the pasta
- Using the back of the spoon, gently spread it into an even layer.
- Carefully spread the other half of the pasta on top of the sauce (also mixed with red or green pesto if you fancy it)
- Again, using a large serving spoon spread the white sauce evenly on top of the pasta layer.
- Sprinkle toasted wholemeal breadcrumbs liberally on the surface plus some oregano and/or paprika, or alternatively some versions call for grated vegan cheese – both are delicious!
- Cook a pre-heated oven at 180°C for 45 mins.