There's a Greek diner in my area that has one of the world's best comfort foods. Pastitzio is a homestyle Greek layered dish similar to lasagne, where the layers are a chunky meat sauce, tubular pasta, and a cheesy bechamel sauce. Gloriously fattening, so a small slice with a greek salad does the trick. I'm experimenting with a lighter version using ground turkey and a yogurt-based topping, which I'll post when I get it right.
This will feed 8-12, depending on the serving size. It needs to be made a day ahead, and is great for a party or large dinner.
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 lb ground lamb,beef or turkey
2 onions, diced
4 gloves garlic, diced
1 large (28 oz) can diced tomatoes (I love the Tuscan Tomato brand from Whole Foods)
1 cup red wine
2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Aleppo pepper or other spicy chile pepper
few shakes hot sauce like tabasco
1 tsp salt
ground pepper--a lot--you want this quite peppery
handful chopped parsley
Heat the oil in a large skillet. Saute the onion until lightly golden, then add the garlic. Add the beef, stirring to break it up as it browns. Add wine, sauce, and spices except for the parsley. Simmer for 45 minutes, adding more wine if it gets too dry. Taste for salt and spiciness and add the parsley. While the meat is cooking, make the pasta and bechamel.
Cook one box ziti in boiling salted water until just al dente. Drain and rinse under cool water so it won;t stick together.
5 Tbs. butter
5 Tbs. flour
3 1/2 cups whole milk
few drops hot sauce
1 cup freshly shredded parmesean cheese
1 cup shredded mild cheese-- the mild cow's milk cheese from a Middle Eastern store, mozzerella, or a very mild cheddar or jack.
3 eggs, beaten
In a heavy pot, melt the butter. Add the flour, and whisk as it bubbles for a few minutes. Heat up the milk in the microwave, and slowly add to the pot as you stir. Bring just to the boil, and let cook and thicken. Add salt, pepper, nutmeg, and hot sauce. Stir in most of the cheese, reserving a few spoonfuls to top the baking dish.Turn off heat and stir. Put the eggs in a bowl, and slowly add just a spoonful of hot sauce at a time to the eggs to bring the temperature up without scrambling them. Then, slowly add them a bit at a time to the sauce. Stir, and taste for seasoning. Add salt if needed.
Butter a very large lasagne pan. Pour in half the pasta, then drizzle on 1/4 the white sauce--just a thin layer. Pour all the meat sauce over this, spreading it evenly. Then layer on the rest of the pasta, and over that, the rest of the white sauce. Sprinkle on the reserved cheese.
Bake in a 350 oven for one hour. Cool in the fridge overnight or at least 6 hours, and reheat to serve. Let rest a few minutes after reheating. Cut into slices to serve with greek salad, sauteed green beans or spinach.