Pasticho (Venezuelan Lasagna)
Pasticho Sundays were my favorite days at my “Tia Meche’s” house — my aunt Mercedes’. And the recipe comes directly from my grandma. My four aunts and my mom make the exact same delicious pasticho.
When I moved to Portugal, one of the first dishes that I prepared for my boyfriend was a big casserole of pasticho. My grandma always told me “love starts in the belly” and I must say she has wide wisdom. Until this day one of the favorite things that my boyfriend likes to eat is a big plate of pasticho and garlic bread.
How to make a Venezuelan
If you ever have made lasagna in your life, this recipe will be a lot easier for you.
Pasticho is basically an oven-baked casserole of layers of pasta, bolognese sauce, and bechamel sauce. Mozzarella cheese, ham, and parmesan cheese will add more substance and the cheesy stringy factor.
Now, for the new cookers out there, the key for a great pasticho is the bolognese sauce and the bechamel sauce. The combination of these two sauces is the soul of a good pasticho. The creaminess of the bechamel will balance the meaty and rich bolognese.
In this post I will teach you how to make both sauces from scratch, but if you don’t want to spend a lot of time cooking you can use pre-made bolognese and bechamel. Of course, the flavor won’t be the same as homemade but I’m not a cooking snob. Honestly, this blog is “easy recipes for every day” and I pretend to stick to that. Choose the options that suit your cooking style better.
After that little disclaimer, here comes the recipe:
How to make a bolognese sauce from scratch?
The first thing is to cook the onions and the garlic with the olive oil over medium heat. This way the oil will be infused in the onion and garlic flavor. Let them cook for a couple of minutes. Stir constantly and watch closely to avoid burned garlic. As soon as it starts to get fragrant, it’s time for the next step.
Then add the ground meat. When the meat is no longer pink, add the crushed tomatoes, the milk and all the seasoning (basil, thyme, oregano, salt, pepper, and sugar).
My two tips for a rich bolognese are the milk and the sugar. Both will cut the acidity of the tomatoes and will balance the sauce. These two simple ingredients have changed my bolognese game forever. You’ll get a richer and more flavorful result.
How to make a bechamel sauce from scratch?
A bechamel has a roux base, which is butter, flour and milk base.
First, melt the butter and cook the onion cut into slices until they are transparent, be careful of not burning the onions. Otherwise, you will have a bitter flavor in your bechamel.
Then add the flour and stir until you get a paste. Slowly pour the milk to create an homogeneous white sauce. Season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper.
The rest of the recipe is just assembling the pasticho. While layering the pasticho make sure that the pasta is soaked in both sauces to avoid any hard pasta spot. Finally, take to the oven for 30 minutes and you’ll get a super yummy Venezuelan pasticho.
More Venezuelan Recipes:
- 9 oven-ready lasagna noodles
- 100 gr ham
- 150 gr shredded mozzarella cheese
- 50 gr parmesan cheese
- ½ onion
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 250 gr ground meat
- 1 can crushed tomato
- 1 tbsp dry basil
- ½ tbsp dry oregano
- 1 tsp dry thyme
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ tsp sugar
- ¼ cup milk
- salt and pepper to taste
- 500 ml of milk
- 50 gr butter
- ½ onion
- ½ tsp Nutmeg
- ½ tsp Black pepper
- Pinch of salt
In a big pan, pour the olive oil and heat it over medium heat. Add the onion cut into small cubes, and the garlic clove minced. Cook for a couple of minutes until the garlic is fragrant.
Add the ground meat and cook it until the meat is no longer pink.
Add the crushed tomatoes, milk, sugar, thyme, oregano, basil and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 8 – 10 minutes until you get a meaty sauce.
In a pot, melt the butter and cook the onion cut into slices until they are transparent (about 2 minutes).
Add the flour and stir until you get a thick paste.
Slowly pour the milk to get a white sauce.
Season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper.
Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF)
In a square casserole dish spread 1 tbsp of bechamel sauce at the bottom.
Start layering in the following order: bechamel, pasta noodle, bolognese, mozzarella, ham. Repeat for three or four times. The last layer must end with pasta and bechamel. The bechamel must cover the pasta completely. Finally, add the parmesan grated cheese at the top to get a golden au gratin finish.
Take it to the oven for 25 – 30 minutes until the surface looks golden (like in the pictures)