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Pastitsio Nistisimo (Vegan) and Vegetarian Pastitsio

Pastitsio Nistisimo (Vegan) and Vegetarian Pastitsio

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Pastitsio nistisimo (pr. Pah-STEE-tsio Knee-STEE-see-moh) is a vegan pasta casserole dish made with tubular pasta, vegetable filling and topped with a vegan faux béchamel sauce.  The same dish can be made vegetarian using the same filling but adding a real bechamel sauce on top.

This is a staple food for all Greek families and I cannot think of anybody who does not like this dish. However during lent we abstain from eating any kind of meat or products derived from animals and although I have seen some vegetarian recipes, my recipe does not have a vegetarian béchamel on top but includes a topping without any milk or eggs in the “faux béchamel”.  Think of Shepherd’s Pie.

For this reason I decided to make my own recipe which we can enjoy during Lent.

To replace the meat sauce, I decided to make a vegetable sauce and added a variety of vegetables and herbs. 

Although normally I would  add only the canned tomatoes, I decided to added an extra cubed tomato for some extra  colour in the dish and the carrots, combined with the onions, added a lovely sweetness to the filling. 

You can use the same filling to make a vegan Moussakas or vegan Papoutsakia.

pastitsio filling image

Although I do not have a garden but merely a small balcony, I grow a few herbs in pots and I’ve recently bought some more herbs so you will be seeing a lot of these in my recipes and of course the difference is amazing.

In this recipe, I used fresh parsley,  rosemary and thyme from my pots and laurel I picked that morning after walking at Hymettus mountain, which added a lovely aromatic taste to the sauce.

parsley and dill image

The original recipe is included in my cookbook Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste!

However, as I have never posted a vegetarian pastitsio, here is my recipe:

Vegetarian Pastitsio

Preparation time: 1 hour

Cooking time: about 45 minutes

Serves: 8 (for a 32 x 23 x 6 cm (12.5 x 9 x 2.3 inch)

  • 1 packet (500 grams 1.10 lbs) tubular pasta No. 2 or penne rigate
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ cup of grated graviera or myzithra cheese

Vegetable Filling:

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 small aubergine (eggplant), cut into small cubes
  • 2 courgettes (zucchini), finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, grated
  • 200 grams (7 oz) pleurotus (oyster) mushrooms, cut into small pieces
  • 1 small tomato, peeled and cubed
  • ¼ cup finely chopped celery rib
  • ½ cup white dry wine
  • 1/2 cup tomato passata (purée)
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground allspice
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, only the leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 sprig fresh oregano, finely chopped (or a pinch of dried oregano)
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme, finely chopped (or a pinch of dried thyme)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dill, finely chopped

Béchamel sauce:

  • 1 litre milk
  • 80 grams (2.8 oz) extra virgin olive oil (or butter) ratio tested
  • 80 grams (2.8 oz) all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs (reserve 2 egg whites)
  • ½ tsp (or more) salt, (depending on the saltiness of cheese added)
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ cup grated graviera, halloumi, kefalotyri or dried myzithra cheese (you can also use pecorino or parmesan)

Directions:

  1. Prepare the vegetable filling: Heat the olive oil in a sautéing pan and sauté the onion until soft. Add the garlic and sauté for a few seconds until fragrant.
  2. Add the eggplant (aubergine), the mushrooms, the carrots and the zucchini (courgettes) as well as the celery and sauté until they are soft.
  3. Add the wine and cook for a few minutes for the alcohol to evaporate and then add the tomato as well as the tomato puree, bay leaf, oregano, rosemary and thyme.
  4. Season with salt, pepper, cinnamon and allspice, add the water and simmer until the vegetables are cooked and remain with a thick sauce.
  5. When they are cooked discard the bay leaf and mix in the parsley, dill, oregano, rosemary and thyme.
  6. Cook the pasta: Meantime, bring the water to a boil, add salt and cook the pasta al dente, a few minutes less than the package instructions.
  7. Remove from the heat and cool the pasta under running water.  Drain, and wet the pasta with the olive oil. When ready to use beat the egg whites and add it to the pasta, together with the cheese and a couple tablespoons béchamel sauce and mix.
  8. Prepare the béchamel sauce.
  9. Assembling the dish: Layer half of the pasta in the Pyrex and add the vegetable filling on top.
  10. Add the remaining pasta on top and cover with the béchamel sauce.
  11. Sprinkle with some grated cheese and some cinnamon on top.
  12. Bake in a preheated oven to 180o C / 350o F (or 160o C / 325o for a convection oven) for about 45 minutes or until golden on top.
  13. Let it cool before cutting into portions.
Pastitsio Nistisimo (Vegan)

Pastitsio Nistisimo (Vegan)

Yield: 8
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes

Pastitsio nistisimo (pr. Pah-STEE-tsio Knee-STEE-see-moh) is a vegan pasta casserole dish made with tubular pasta, vegetable filling and topped with a vegan faux béchamel sauce.  The same dish can be made vegetarian using the same filling but adding a real bechamel sauce on top.

Ingredients

  • 500 grams (1.10 lbs) penne rigate
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ cup of grated graviera or myzithra cheese

Vegetable Filling:

  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 small aubergine (eggplant), cut into small cubes
  • 2 courgettes (zucchini), finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, grated
  • 200 grams (7 oz) pleurotus (oyster) mushrooms, cut into small pieces
  • 1 small tomato, peeled and cubed
  • ¼ cup finely chopped celery rib
  • ½ cup white dry wine
  • 1/2 cup tomato passata (purée)
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground allspice
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, only the leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 sprig fresh oregano, finely chopped (or a pinch of dried oregano)
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme, finely chopped (or a pinch of dried thyme)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dill, finely chopped

Béchamel sauce:

  • 1 litre milk
  • 80 grams (2.8 oz) extra virgin olive oil (or butter) ratio tested
  • 80 grams (2.8 oz) all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs (reserve 2 egg whites)
  • ½ tsp (or more) salt, (depending on the saltiness of cheese added)
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ cup grated graviera, halloumi, kefalotyri or dried myzithra cheese (you can also use pecorino or parmesan)

Instructions

  1. Prepare the vegetable filling: Heat the olive oil in a sautéing pan and sauté the onion until soft. Add the garlic and sauté for a few seconds until fragrant. 
  2. Add the eggplant (aubergine), the mushrooms, the carrots and the zucchini (courgettes) as well as the celery and sauté until they are soft.
  3. Add the wine and cook for a few minutes for the alcohol to evaporate and then add the tomato as well as the tomato puree, bay leaf, oregano, rosemary and thyme.
  4. Season with salt, pepper, cinnamon and allspice, add the water and simmer until the vegetables are cooked and remain with a thick sauce.
  5. When they are cooked discard the bay leaf and mix in the parsley, dill, oregano, rosemary and thyme.
  6. Cook the pasta: Meantime, bring the water to a boil, add salt and cook the pasta al dente, a few minutes less than the package instructions.  
  7. Remove from the heat and cool the pasta under running water.  Drain, and wet the pasta with the olive oil. When ready to use beat the egg whites and add it to the pasta, together with the cheese and a couple tablespoons béchamel sauce and mix.
  8. Prepare the béchamel sauce.
  9. Assembling the dish: Layer half of the pasta in the Pyrex and add the vegetable filling on top.
  10. Add the remaining pasta on top and cover with the béchamel sauce.
  11. Sprinkle with some grated cheese and some cinnamon on top.
  12. Bake in a preheated oven to 180o C / 350o F (or 160o C / 325o for a convection oven) for about 45 minutes or until golden on top.
  13. Let it cool before cutting into portions.
Nutrition Information

Amount Per Serving Calories 555.81Total Fat 27.79gSaturated Fat 7.39gSodium 818.07mgCarbohydrates 59.47gFiber 4.92gSugar 11.47gProtein 18.07g

Did you make this recipe?

Tried this recipe? Tag me @ivyliac and use the hashtag #kopiaste!

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi!

signature Ivy

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Rajee

Monday 30th of March 2009

Appreciate ur effort. Good and nice presentation!

PG

Sunday 15th of March 2009

this looks so good! And WOW! A very innovative and I'm sure a wonderful recipe of a dairy and milk free bechamel. A lovel idea of showing all the steps in one picture, looks beautiful too.

Simona

Sunday 15th of March 2009

What a nice recipe, Ivy! Your Pastitsio looks wonderful.

Peter

Saturday 14th of March 2009

Your Lenten version of Pastitsio comes with a wonderful and suprising result. You know how one is always hungry during Lent - this dish can alleve that.

Lisa

Saturday 14th of March 2009

What a wonderful creation. I've never tried this, but I wish I could have some right now. Lovely images too Ivy.

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