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  • Writer's pictureBobbi Jo Lathan


Updated: Dec 31, 2023


My ex-mother-in-law was Greek, which you probably already know if you’ve been reading my blog. She used to “read” Greek coffee grinds in a cup, like some people “read tea leaves.” Bein’ from the South, I have to say, I was always a bit leery of her “gift” and found it somewhat superstitious. But, I’ll grant her this, she was spot-on with her predictions!

She once said there’d be a fire near one of my ex-husband’s diners. And, sure enough, the next day I was in a cab heading to the diner and fire trucks where whizzin’ by with their sirens full blast – the building down from his diner was all a blaze! Another time, she predicted that the bank near one of the hotels that my ex-husband owned, where he had an account, was going to be robbed. He wanted to call the bank and warn them, but I told him: “What? Are you nuts? If that place gits robbed, they’ll put you behind bars as an accessory!” Sure enough, the next day we heard gunshots down the block and, honey, that bank got robbed! She was scary-good with that Greek coffee cup grinds business.

If you think about it, with all of Greece’s financial woes and their problems with the EU, it’s too bad my ex’s Mama’s no longer around to predict a way out of their mess. If anybody knew what was comin’ next, she did. In the meantime, while we send all our good thoughts and wishes for Greece to recovery, let’s honor them by cookin’ up a big batch of some incredibly dee-lish-us Pastitsio!

Believe me, you won’t need to read any Greek coffee grinds in a cup to know how good this recipe is!


Recipe by: Bobbi Jo Lathan

Recipe type: Entree

Cuisine: Greek

Serves: 6


45 mins


45 mins


1 hour 30 mins



1 pound dry ziti pasta

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 tablespoons butter

½ cup grated Kefalotyri cheese (or grated parmesan if you can’t find this really tasty greek cheese)

1 dash ground nutmeg

salt and pepper to taste

3 eggs (beaten)

Meat Sauce:

2 tablespoons butter

1 large yellow onion (chopped)

2 cloves garlic (crushed)

1½ pounds ground lamb (or lean ground beef)

¼ cup tomato paste

½ cup dry red wine

⅓ cup vegetable broth

2 tablespoons fresh parsley (chopped)

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon salt, pepper, granulated garlic or garlic powder (each)

Bechamel Sauce:

½ cup butter

½ cup all-purpose flour

3 cups milk (warmed)

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 egg ( beaten)

salt and pepper to taste


¼ cup Kefalotyri cheese (or grated parmesan if you can’t find this greek cheese)



  1. Preheat oven to 350º.

  2. Bring a big pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add ziti and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente and drain.

  3. Melt butter in that same pot until golden brown.

  4. Pour in ziti, add ¼ cup of the Parmesan cheese, nutmeg, salt, pepper and toss well.

  5. Let it cool for about 1 minute.

  6. Add eggs and toss again. Set it aside.

Meat sauce:

  1. In your skillet, sauté onion and garlic in butter until onion is soft.

  2. Increase heat and add ground lamb or beef.

  3. Cook until meat begins to brown.

  4. Add tomato paste, wine, broth, parsley, salt and pepper, cinnamon and granulated garlic.

  5. Cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.

Bechamel Sauce:

  1. Melt butter in saucepan, stir in flour and cook gently for about 2 minutes.

  2. Pour in warmed milk all at once and bring to a gentle boil, stirring constantly.

  3. Boil for only 1 minute.

  4. Add nutmeg, salt, pepper, and let cool for about a minute or so.

  5. Stir in beaten egg.

  6. Transfer ½ cup of this sauce into the meat sauce.

To Assemble:

  1. Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.

  2. Spoon half of the prepared ziti evenly into the bottom and top with meat sauce.

  3. Top that with remaining ziti.

  4. Pour on cream sauce and spread on top to completely cover ziti.

  5. Sprinkle ¼ cup cheese on top.

  6. Then, bake in a preheated oven for 45 minutes or or until golden brown.

  7. Let pastitsio stand for 10 minutes before cutting. YUM!


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