Description: Food Network Kitchen's Pasticho.
Recipe courtesy of Larisa Alvarez for Food Network Kitchen


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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 1 hr 45 min
  • Active: 45 min
  • Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Pasticho is the Venezuelan version of lasagna and I like to think of it as a cross between a croque monsieur and Italian lasagna. It has the meaty richness of a beefy tomato sauce and creamy bechamel, alongside the combination of melty cheese and salty ham, which is one of my favorites. This particular version includes some of my mom’s influences, like my Abuela’s seasoning, along with some tweaks to fit my preferences, like the Gruyere. It’s one of the dishes that my dad looks forward to all day when he knows my mom is going to make it.


Abuela Chabe’s Seasoning:





  1. For Abuela Chabe’s seasoning: Combine the annatto, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder and curry powder in a small bowl. Makes 2 3/4 tablespoons (see Cook’s Note).
  2. For the beef: Fill a large saute pan with 1 inch of water and add a large, five-finger pinch of salt. Add the ground beef and cook over high heat, stirring every 2 minutes, until the liquid released by the ground beef has almost disappeared and you can only see fat, about 15 minutes. Let the beef fry in the fat for about 1 minute, then remove the beef to a large bowl, leaving the fat in the saucepan. 
  3. Add the onion to the saute pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the 2 tablespoons of Abuela Chabe’s Seasoning and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the cooked beef and season with salt. Stir in the tomato sauce and Worcestershire sauce and cook until the mixture has reduced slightly, about 3 minutes. Taste and season again if necessary. Set aside.  
  4. For the bechamel: Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, about 2 minutes. Add the flour and whisk until combined. Continue to whisk until the mixture turns the same yellow color as Dijon mustard and starts to smell slightly nutty, about 6 minutes. Whisk in the nutmeg and cook for 1 minute. Gradually add the milk in five additions while whisking constantly, making sure to fully incorporate between each addition; this will ensure a smooth texture. Season with salt and cook until the bechamel coats the back of a spoon, 5 to 8 minutes. (If the sauce seems too thin, remember that it will continue to thicken as it sits.)  
  5. For the assembly: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Cook the noodles, stirring occasionally and separating them to prevent sticking, until softened and bendable but still tough in the center, about 5 minutes. Transfer the noodles to a large bowl of cold water and set aside until ready to assemble. 
  6. Arrange a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F.  
  7. Spread 3 tablespoons of the meat sauce and 3 tablespoons of the bechamel on the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.   
  8. Lay a single layer of noodles over the meat sauce and bechamel (if you're using long noodles, you will need to cut some noodles to fill the gaps). Spread half of the meat sauce (about 1 1/2 cups) over the noodles. Add another single layer of noodles. Spread 1/2 cup of the bechamel over the noodles. Top with 5 ounces of the ham and 6 ounces of the Gruyere.  
  9. Repeat by adding another single layer of noodles, the remaining half of the meat sauce, another single layer of noodles, 1/2 cup of the bechamel, the remaining 5 ounces of the ham, 6 ounces of the Gruyere and a final single layer of pasta. 
  10. Combine the remaining bechamel and the remaining 4 ounces of Gruyere (if using sliced cheese, crumble it up) and spread on top of the pasticho.  
  11. Cook until bubbling gently around the edges, about 45 minutes. If the top has not browned, broil on high until a couple of brown spots appear, 1 to 2 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Cook’s Note

Look for wide and short dried lasagna noodles – then you won't need to cut longer noodles to fit a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. If using no-boil noodles, shorten the cook times on the sauces so that they are a little more watery, as the noodles will absorb some of the liquid. We use Abuela Chabe’s seasoning anytime we need to add flavor. It regularly goes on our chicken, pork and beef dishes, but it also shines in soups, particularly in black beans.