Greek lamb pastitsio

Greek lamb pastitsio



  • 3 lamb shanks
  • 1 brown onion, diced
  • 2 sticks celery, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tin (400g) diced tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 4 preserved figs
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 500g penne pasta
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs (for later)

Bechamel sauce

  • 50g butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 cups warm milk
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg


Preheat oven to 140°C or 120°C fan-forced.

To make the ragu, brown the shanks well and set aside. In the same large casserole dish, heat a little more olive oil over medium heat and cook the onion, celery, carrot and garlic for about five minutes.

Add the spices and cook for another minute, then the tomato paste and cook another minute. Pour in the tomatoes, honey, figs and stock and bring to a boil.

Return the shanks to the dish then cover and place in the preheated oven to cook slowly for about 2 hours.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to packet instructions, drain and set aside.

To make the béchamel sauce, melt the butter in a small saucepan until frothing.

Add the flour and stir until you have a thick paste, cook this for almost a minute and then add the warm milk a little at a time. Add nutmeg. Whisk as you go to prevent lumps forming.

Once all the milk has been added, stir through the nutmeg and keep stirring over a medium-low heat for about 5 minutes.

Turn the oven up to 180°C or 160°C fan-forced.

To assemble, shred meat from the shanks and return to the dish with the sauce, stir through the pasta and then smooth the béchamel sauce over the top.

Sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until the top is golden.

Serve immediately with a nice Greek salad.

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Serving Suggestions


  • There are a few steps involved in this recipe but none of them are too taxing and like all good baked dishes, everything is done in advance.
  • The easiest thing to do is make the lamb ragu earlier and then just assemble the pasta, meat and sauce the day you plan on serving it.
  • This recipe was created by Sophie Hansen for Kidspot, New Zealand’s best recipe finder: You can follow Sophie on Local is Lovely, Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.

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