Makaronopita is a filling Greek macaroni and cheese pie. Made with bechamel cream, feta and Kefalotyri cheese. This savory and filling comfort dish is the Vegetarian version of traditional Greek Pastitsio.
This Greek Macaroni Pie Recipe is a favorite family meal in Greece. Since it is filling, and has two favorite ingredients of kids and grown-ups alike. And that is macaroni and cheese of course!
Table Of Contents
Which Cheese To use
In this case, the cheese that is used to make macaroni pie is a mixture of feta cheese and Kefalotyri. Both Greek cheeses are pretty salty and strong-flavored but not too fatty and greasy like yellow cheese for example.
Of course, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to choosing a cheese for this pie. Yes, feta is almost a must if you want to make a Greek-style Macaroni Pie. But you can swap Kefalotyri cheese for Gruyere cheese (which is not that salty, it's fattier and sweet). Or you can use Kefalograviera cheese, which is something between Kefalotyri and Graviera (Gruyere).
And if you can't find any of the above Greek cheeses other than feta, no worries. There are substitutes for Kefalotyri and Kefalograviera cheese that are very similar. For example:
- Caciocavallo (preferably the one made from sheep's/goats milk)
- Pecorino Romano
- Pecorino Toscano
So you can make your own cheese mix by mixing the amount of feta this recipe calls for together with any of the above salty cheeses. And if you want that sticky cheesiness you may also add some Kaseri cheese which is a yellow cheese with a bigger amount of fat but less salty.
How To Make
There are three steps to making Macaroni Pie.
- Make the Bechamel cream. Start by making a butter and flour base (roux), and then add milk. Once it gets to a consistency that's slightly thicker than that of heavy cream (we don't want the cream too thick, as it is going to get baked as well), add butter, cheese, and eggs to it.
- Cook the pasta according to package instructions and strain.
- Mix together, transfer to a baking dish, sprinkle some cheese on top, and bake!
Recipe Tip: Let the pasta stand for 30 minutes on the kitchen counter before cutting and serving.
Can It Be Cooked Ahead?
Sure, just prepare everything including cooking the pasta and the cream, and place it in the fridge until you are ready to bake. It will last for up to 48 hours in the fridge.
There are a few extra ingredients you can add to this Macaroni and cheese pie. Like Greek sausage, ham, bacon, garlic, and sun-dried tomatoes. All of the additional ingredients are mixed into the finished sauce together with the macaroni.
- To add Greek sausage, slice thinly and sautee on a pan with a small splash of olive oil until nicely colored all over. You may let it cool and chop more finely if you wish.
- To add ham, finely chop and add to the sauce.
- In order to add bacon, dice it and add it to a non-stick frying pan without any oil. Cook stirring occasionally until it gets some color then add to the sauce.
- Garlic, you can either press or mince it and mix it raw into the sauce. About 2 cloves are enough but if you are a fan you can always add a bit more. You can also add it to the sauce in step 2 of Make The Cream in the recipe below. In order to flavor the milk.
- And Sun-dried tomatoes about 6-7 finely sliced or more if you wish.
What To Serve It With
You can serve Macaroni Pie with any of those delicious salads: Greek Cabbage Salad (Vinegar Coleslaw), a Classic Greek Salad, or Marinated Tomato Salad. And if you are having a get-together serve it with some Spinach and Feta triangles for a real feast!
Storing And Freezing
Once baked, you can keep Macaroni Pie for up to 3 days in the fridge. Otherwise, let cool and get firm for about 2-3 hours in the fridge, then cut into individual pieces and place in aluminum pans with lids, then add to the freezer. If you don't want to use aluminum pans, wrap individual pieces on pieces of parchment paper or plastic wrap and place them in air-tight food containers.
To reheat thaw in the fridge and add the aluminum pans as they are in the oven at 350°F / 175°C. In order to reheat the pieces wrapped in parchment paper, unwrap the pieces and place them in a small baking dish add a splash of water at the bottom and cover with foil on top. Reheat at the same temperature as the aluminum pans.
Macaroni Pie Recipe (Makaronopita)
For The Cream:
- 60 grams (4 tbsp) butter
- 55 grams (5 tbsp) all-purpose flour
- 750 ml (3 cups) warm milk
- 40 grams (3 tablespoons) butter
- 180 grams (6.3 ounce) feta cheese crumbled
- 75 grams (2.6 ounce) Greek Kefalotyri or Gruyere cheese grated
- 2 medium eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- ⅕ teaspoon ground nutmeg
For The Macaroni:
- 350 grams (12.3 ounce) elbow macaroni pasta
- 1 tablespoon salt
For The Pie Top:
- 35 grams (1.2 ounce) Greek Kefalotyri or Gruyere cheese grated
- Preheat oven to 180°C /355°F.
To Make The Cream:
- Make a roux. In a small cooking pot or saucepan heat over low heat the 60 grams of butter until melted. Add the flour and stir with a whisk to combine with the butter. Raise the heat to medium and cook stirring frequently for 2 minutes. Turn the heat to low again.
- Add the milk in batches. Stirring after each batch until the mixture is uniform before adding more milk. Continue stirring with the whisk until all flour lumps have dissolved and the mixture gets a little bit thicker than heavy cream.
- Remove from heat and add the feta cheese, Kefalotyri cheese and stir well. Then add the eggs, egg yolks, ground pepper, and nutmeg.
To Make The Macaroni Pie:
- Boil pasta according to its package instructions. Then drain and add to a mixing bowl while still hot.
- Add the cream to the pasta and mix well. Then transfer to a 28 x 18 cm (11 x 7-inch) baking dish.
- Smoothen the surface with a spoon and press the macaroni to sink under the cream. Sprinkle the 35 grams of Kefalotyri cheese on top.
- Bake in the middle rack of your oven for about 40-45 minutes until set and nicely colored on top.
- Remove from the oven and let it set for at least 30 minutes on the counter before cutting and serving.
- Cut into 6 square pieces and serve with extra grated cheese on top if you like.