Pastitsio Pasta Bake

Looking for a simple way to change up pasta night? Try this pasta bake made with a rich béchamel sauce.


  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 pounds ground turkey
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, with juices
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Bechamel:
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • Kosher salt


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 3-quart baking dish.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook pasta for 2 minutes less than package instructions. Drain.
  3. For the meat sauce:
  4. Add butter to a large skillet over medium heat. Once melted and foaming, add onion and garlic and sauté until tender, about 4 minutes. Season with cinnamon, salt and pepper.
  5. Add the meat and break up with the back of a wooden spoon while stirring. Cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with cinnamon and toast for 1 minute. Stir in the tomato paste, then the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 10 minutes, until thickened.
  6. For the bechamel:
  7. Add butter to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once melted and foaming, sprinkle in flour and stir with a wooden spoon until pasty. Whisk in milk slowly. Season with salt, cayenne, nutmeg and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Simmer for 8 to 10 minutes.
  8. To assemble:
  9. Add the cooked pasta to the meat sauce and stir to mix. Add to the prepared casserole dish. Spoon on a layer of bechamel and smooth the top. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup cheese.
  10. Bake for 35 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool for 15 minutes before slicing.