For most people, it’s not ‘what’ makes a good pastitsio, but ‘who’. Most of our readers nominated their mums and yiayiades as the makers of the best pastitsio. Meleka Jamila Islam states that “love, willingness to cook from the heart” is reflected in the food. Sophia Alexandra on Twitter agrees that a great pastitsio depends on the “loving hands of the cook who makes it.”
There was a bit of discussion on the condiments that should be used to flavour the dish. Nita Strintzos Hagi said that her recipe includes “adding nutmeg, cinnamon and garlic to the meat sauce” and you “can add nutmeg to the bechamel”. Peter Spilios said that no nutmeg in the bechamel sauce is a “dealbreaker! On her part, Mazkaf on twitter said that it is fine without the “nutmeg” which she doesn’t want on anything other than dessert. Patakis Jayzie states that cooks should not forget clove.
Nita Stringtzos Hagi adds parmesan and halloumi cheese, but Jackie Papakyriakopoulos states that parmesan “belongs in lasagne, not pastitsio”. Nicky Kostakos Karavelas insists on using grated kefalotyri, while Penny Costa suggests that the bechamel sauce also be “extra cheesy”. Other readers, like Christina Kolokasides suggest halloumi cheese.
4. The sauce
Stavris states that “pastitsio is only as good as the bechamel sauce it sits under” and the trick is to ensure that the sauce has the right “flavour and consistency”. “You can mix bog sauce with pasta any way you like.”
5. The right pasta
Dora Argy states that “picking the right pasta” is part of the trick, and Peter Spilios adds that the right pasta should be Misko, and Nicky Kostakos Karavelas agrees. Toula Dikeliotis states that penne macaroni should be used. George Karagiannis states that the best spaghetti for pastitsio has to be made from plain flour, and agrees to give more details to those who email him at Fetta’s Greek Taverna in Cairns.
READ MORE: The hunt for Melbourne’s best pastitsio
A number of our readers have embraced vegeterianism and, like Maria Frankie, state that “vegan” pastitsio is the best.
Forget separation and segregation of the different layers and ingredients, Stav Ropkas states that mixing the pasta with the sauce makes it so much better, and Sophia Georgoulis agrees that a little bechamel should also be put into the mixture as well.
Vicki Peppos insists that it is “the meticulous arrangement of the pasta” that makes the great pastitsio. “Pasta must be cleanly cut, with surgical precision. Pasta holes must line up perfectly,” she says, but Peter Spilios advises to “just throw it in” as mums do. After all, “perfection is for the sociopaths”.
Patakis Jayzie states that the pastitsio should be slowly cooked to get the taste through – “not over cooked, just slow”. She states that it should be “dark red like good red wine after you’re done.”
A bit of competition doesn’t hurt to get our pastitsio up to scratch. Just a month away, organisers of the Lonsdale Street Greek Festival are getting down to the business end, and are on the look out for none other than Melbourne’s best pastitsio. If you think that your pastitsio, or that of someone you known, has what it takes to impress the likes of some of Melbourne’s best Greek cooks and industry professionals, be sure to register for Pass the Pastitsio. Winners will not only walk away with the title of best pastitsio; there are also some exciting prizes up for grabs.The Lonsdale Street Greek Festival is on from Saturday 29 February to Sunday 1 March. To register your spot in Pass the Pastitsio, visit https://forms.monday.com/forms/bc0a37c4741480e1ba3def66c5d80d5c