Here’s how you can make the popular Greek pasta casserole – pastitsio – vegan! Impress your friends or family with this comforting vegan pasta casserole!
Pastitsio is a world-famous Greek pasta casserole that you can find around the entire country. It is also known under the name of “Greek lasagna” because this Greek recipe is very similar to the Italian lasagna, the main difference consisting in the shape of the pasta. The traditional recipe uses lamb meat and Bechamel sauce together with the pasta in order to create a delicious and filling dish, and the entire composition is then put in the oven to bake.
One of the most important parts of this recipe is the meat filling (or its vegan version, if you please), as it has to contain the perfect blend of spices such as cinnamon, cumin, garlic powder, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. The Bechamel sauce has to be super creamy and smooth in order to perfectly complete the meat sauce.
If you want to make the authentic Greek pastitsio recipe, there are some exact steps you have to follow. First, you need to prepare the filling sauce and the Bechamel sauce. The bottom layer of the casserole has to be made of cylindrical pasta and Greek people usually combine it with the famous feta cheese in order to add more taste to the entire dish.
After you created the base layer of pasta, you add a layer of the mixture made of ground lamb, veal or even beef (or their vegan versions I used in this recipe) with a carefully chosen mix of spices (such as cinnamon) and tomatoes. Then you add another layer of pasta and top everything off with some creamy Bechamel sauce. Add some cheese on top if you want some extra flavor and serve it while still warm. Greeks usually serve pastitsio together with a salad, to add a bit of freshness to the dish.
For the vegan pastitsio recipe, I replaced ground lamb with a mix of healthy vegetables: carrots, lentils, tomatoes and, of course, authentic pastitsio spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg.
The vegan Bechamel sauce is actually super easy to make! I made it with vegan butter, vegan milk, flour and silken tofu. I used rigatoni pasta in order to create a vegan pastitsio recipe that looks as similar to the original one as possible!
You know I’m a big fan of casseroles, as I find them to be some of the best comfort foods ever and you can feed an entire crowd with them! Pastitsio is the perfect dish for meal prep – you can cook a big casserole over the weekend, cut it into pieces, put them in separate containers and keep them in the refrigerator for the following days. You will then have the perfect hearty lunch or dinner, that you can even pack for school or work.
Make the vegan version of the Pastitsio recipe and I promise you will be impressed by its blend of flavors and textures. The taste of this Greek pasta casserole is very similar to the original recipe and I’m sure even your omni friends will be impressed!
- For the filling:
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1 large carrot, chopped
- 4 medium plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped
- 1 cup tomato juice
- 1 tsp tomato paste
- 1 cup red lentils
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- ½ tsp cumin powder
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- a dash of nutmeg
- ½ cup red wine
- 1 ½ cups boiling water
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- sea salt, to taste
- For the vegan Bechamel sauce:
- 2 Tbsp vegan butter
- 1 Tbsp flour
- 2 cups non-diary milk, unsweetened
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- ½ tsp white pepper
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 1 cup silken tofu
- For the pastitsio:
- 400g rigatoni pasta
- Cook the pasta according to instructions on the package - al dente.
- Add the olive oil in a large skillet, over medium heat.
- When hot, add the chopped onions. Saute them for a few minutes.
- Add chopped carrots and continue to cook for about 5 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes and cook for 2 more minutes.
- Add tomato juice, tomato paste, wine, and lentils. Let them cook until the lentils absorb the liquids, stirring occasionally.
- Add cinnamon, cumin, black pepper, garlic powder, smoked paprika, and nutmeg. Mix well to incorporate. Add water and let it cook for about 7 more minutes. Set aside.
- Make the vegan Bechamel sauce.
- In a sauce pot, on low heat, melt the vegan butter.
- Add flour and whisk well until the mixture becomes thick.
- Add milk, stirring continuously until the mixture thickens.
- Add white pepper, salt, and nutmeg.
- Divide the sauce into two parts.
- Using a food processor, add one part of the sauce and mix it with silken tofu. Blend until smooth.
- Using a baking dish, layer the cooked pasta on the bottom, cover it with the initial Bechamel sauce, then layer it with lentil mixture and cover it up with tofu-sauce.
- Bake at 200C for about 35 minutes or until golden on top.