When I was 4 years old, my family moved to Athens, Greece. I was raised to be a good eater, and wasn't a picky child (as long as you weren't feeding me raw onions, sweet potatoes, stuffing, or pumpkin pie). There was quite a bit of Greek food, though, that takes getting used to, especially if you have all the culinary sophistication of an American 4 year old.
The recipe I'm posting today is a bit complicated, but worth every bit of effort. It's the one Greek food I loved instantly, and it's the one I make periodically for friends. I think it's very acceptable for the American palate, but is still authentically Greek.
1 lb penne pasta
2 egg whites, lightly beaten (save yolks for Bechamel sauce)
1.5 lb ground beef
8.5 oz parmesan cheese
1 C butter, melted
Half C of white wine
1 med onion, chopped
1 small can tomato paste diluted in 1.5 C of water
salt, pepper, cinnamon (all to taste)
1 portion of Bechamel sauce
crushed bread crumbs
Partially cook pasta in salted water. Put pasta in large bowl and pour half of melted butter over the pasta. Mix beaten egg whites with pasta. Sprinkle with half the parmesan. Set aside.
Use other half of melted butter to brown ground beef and onion. Add the wine, tomato paste diluted with water, salt, pepper, cinnamon. Simmer until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and add the remaining parmesan and 1/2 cup of the bread crumbs. Stir well.
Prepare Bechamel Sauce:
2 egg yolks, beaten
salt and pepper
Melt butter in skillet. Pour in flour. Stir until creamy and mixture is very slightly brown. Slowly add warm to milk, stirring constantly to make a gravy. Add salt and pepper. Spoon small amount of gravy into beaten egg yolks, stirring quickly to prevent eggs from scrambling. Add more gravy, stirring constantly. Add egg mixture to the rest of the gravy and stir in.
To assemble Pastitzio:
Butter 9x13 pan. Sprinkle bottom with bread crumbs. Spread half of pasta evenly. Spread evenly with meat mixture. Spread rest of pasta mixture over meat. Pour bechamel sauce over all. Sprinkle with parmesan, then crushed bread crumbs. Pour 2T melted butter over all. Bake in 350 oven - 30-40 minutes or until golden brown.