At any restaurant in Greece, you can find pastitsio. Pastitsio is a baked pasta casserole with a meat and tomato sauce and covered with a béchamel sauce. I clearly remember having pastitsio before going gluten-free and it was so good.
Pastitsio sounds simple and basic, but it can be very difficult to find in most American-Greek restaurants, let alone a gluten-free version. Now, when I travel back to Greece with my husband to visit his family, he explains my gluten-free needs in Greek while ordering for me at restaurants. More times than not, the Greeks respond, “She cannot eat pasta or bread?! What can she eat?” But I have never gone hungry in Greece.
More dishes than not are naturally gluten-free. However, there are a handful of traditional Greek dishes that I occasionally long for that are filled with gluten. Greek cuisine is similar to Italian in regards to having standardized recipes that they have been using for hundreds to thousands of years. One of which is pastitsio.The gluten-free version is no more difficult to make than the standard version. The key as always is sourcing the best ingredients. I cannot stress the importance of using the best gluten-free pasta possible. My favorite is Italian corn pasta; Le Veneziane is the brand I stock up on. If you have a corn sensitivity, rice pasta works but it is imperative not to overcook, cooking to right at al dente.
Pastitsio is traditionally made having a bottom layer of tubular pasta (bucatini, rigatoni, penne); topped with a layer of cheese to bind it all together; a middle layer of meat tomato sauce with oregano, cinnamon, and egg whites; plus another layer of pasta; and a top layer of an béchamel sauce with cheese and eggs known as an enriched Mornay sauce in the culinary world. During Easter, most Greeks serve pastitsio with the traditional lamb spread. That can be slightly hedonistic. A perfect side for pastitsio is salad: a traditional Greek Salad or a spring greens salad.