How to Make Pastichio

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As every day passes, I get a little more excited for Easter Sunday. Mostly I’m just really craving that lamb, but part of me also loves spending time with my family. We always manage to have a good time, and I think that it’s not just because of the wine, Metaxa and beer. When it comes to holidays like Easter and Christmas, it’s hard not to smile. There’s so much meaning behind both holidays, and they’re extremely important to millions of people around the world.

This Easter, we’re going over to my maternal grandparents’ home. For the past 5 years, we’ve actually hosted Easter at our house, but my grandmother is pretty sick and it’s hard for her to get around. We all just figured that it would be easier to bring the tradition and the holiday to her.

One other thing that we’ll be bringing is pastichio, one of my favorite Easter foods. It’s a Greek casserole filled with macaroni, beef, a cream sauce and more. Read more about it after the jump!

Don’t tell anyone, but the secret ingredient in this dish is the cinnamon!

Here’s what you need:

* 1/2 lb. ground beef
* 1/2 C. chopped onion
* 1/2 clove garlic, minced
* 1 can (1 lb.) tomatoes, cut up
* 3/4 tsp. salt
* 1/8 tsp. pepper
* 1/8 tsp. cinnamon
* 1/2 C. grated Parmesan cheese
* 1 (8 oz.) pkg. elbow macaroni, cooked
* 3 Tbs. margarine or butter
* 1/3 C. flour
* 2 1/4 C. milk
* 3 eggs

Here’s what you do:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. In a large skillet cook beef, onion and garlic until meat is browned and onion is tender, stirring occasionally.

3. Add tomatoes, 1/2 tsp salt, the pepper and cinnamon, simmer 15 minutes.

4. Stir in 1/4 C. cheese and the macaroni.

5. Turn out into a 12″ X 8″ X 2″ baking dish which has been lined with foil and set aside.

6. In a medium saucepan, melt margarine, blend in flour and remaining 1/4 tsp. salt until smooth.

7. Gradually stir in milk and cook and stir until sauce thickens, about 5 minutes; cool slightly. Remove from heat.

8. Beat in eggs, one at a time.

9. Stir in remaining 1/4 C. cheese and pour over the meat mixture. This layer is the custard layer, and puffs up nicely.

10. Place in a preheated 400 degree oven; lower temperature to 375 degrees and bake 30 to 40 minutes or until top is golden and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

11. Let rest 5 minutes before cutting.

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