Easy Greek moussaka recipe
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- Meat and poultry
- Beef mince
Moussaka is one of the most traditional Greek dishes around and in my opinion, one of the most delicious. Traditional moussaka's use either lamb or beef, both work great so follow your taste buds and use either - here, I use beef.
37 people made this
- For the base
- 1 large aubergine
- 2 large potatoes
- salt and black pepper, to taste
- olive oil, to taste
- For the meat sauce
- 1 white onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 to 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 500g lean beef mince
- 1 glass red wine
- 1 squirt tomato puree
- 1 (400g) tin chopped tomatoes
- 1 handful fresh parsley, chopped (plus extra to top)
- 1 dash Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon caster sugar
- salt and black pepper, to taste
- For the bechamel sauce
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons plain flour
- 500ml whole milk
- 2 egg yolks, whisked
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (plus extra to top)
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- salt and pepper, to taste
MethodPrep:30min ›Cook:1hr30min ›Extra time:30min resting › Ready in:2hr30min
- Preheat the oven to 200 C / Gas 6.
- Cut off the stalk and bottom of the aubergine and peel your potatoes. Thinly slice them both into circular portions, I like mine around 1/2cm. Pop your aubergine slices in a colander and lightly sprinkle with salt (this will extract the bitterness and produce some liquid which will need to be drained away), set aside for about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Oil and season up your potatoes and layer them at the bottom of a suitable oven-proof dish.
- Bake the potatoes in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly brown and softened. Remove from the oven and keep the oven switched on.
- Drain away the liquid produced by the aubergine and rinse the salt off under cold water. Oil and season your aubergine and layer these (in the opposite direction) on top of the potato.
- Bake the aubergines and potatoes together in the oven for a further 20 minutes until light golden and softened.
- Whilst your potatoes are in the oven, get started on your meat sauce. Fry your onion and garlic in a little oil over a medium heat until lightly golden and soft, then add in your mince. Break up and stir until it is all cooked through and add in your wine. Simmer this for around 5 to 10 minutes to burn off the alcohol and release the flavour. Add in your tomato puree, stir for a minute then add in your tomatoes, parsley, Worcestershire sauce, sugar and seasoning to taste. Simmer for about 20 minutes, making sure the sauce is thickened and not too runny.
- For your bechamel sauce, melt your butter in a separate pan over a medium heat, being careful not to burn it. Stir in your flour with a whisk until a thick paste forms. At this point slowly and little by little, making sure you continue to whisk throughout, add in your milk – ensuring no lumps form. Once a thick sauce has formed, add in your egg yolks, Parmesan cheese, white pepper, nutmeg and seasoning to taste. Gently stir until thickened. Take 1/4 of your bechamel sauce and mix it with your meat sauce (strange I know, but it works).
- Assemble your moussaka by topping your potato and eggplant with your meat sauce, then your bechamel sauce and topped with extra Parmesan.
- Pop back in the oven for a final 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown on top. Allow to rest out of the oven for at least 30 minutes prior to serving and top with fresh parsley.
For the base:
For the meat sauce:
For the bechamel sauce:
See it on my blog
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Moussaka is a staple recipe in Greece and the Middle East. Greek moussaka is the most common recipe found across the US and Europe, made by layering aubergines, tomato sauce, and ground beef like you would with lasagna.
Instead of using mince, the Lebanese moussaka (AKA Maghmour) opts for the ever-popular and vegan-friendly chickpeas. Imagine a casserole filled with layers of juicy aubergines, caramelised onions, and soft chickpeas, all smothered in a Levantine-spiced tomato sauce. Steaming and hot, straight out of the oven. Who needs meat, right?
There are three reasons why meatless moussaka is amazing:
You get no bad cholesterol and a fraction of the fats and calories.
The lack of animal products means you can store the dish for longer in the fridge, up to seven days. Therefore, you can make a big batch and sort out your lunch and dinners for days.
The ingredients are super easy to find. You probably already have almost everything you need in your pantry.
Another great thing about Lebanese eggplant moussaka, is that it&aposs good both hot and cold. So you can easily pack it in a lunch-box. And what a lunch it would be! A generous portion has only 225 calories, 8% RDI of fats, but 21% RDI of proteins. Plus all the wonderful vitamins and minerals you get from the aubergines, tomatoes, and chickpeas. You can cover 3 out of your five-a-day of veggies in a single swoop. Now, that&aposs what we call a healthy dish!
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Layers of minced lamb, potato and aubergine, covered in white sauce and baked to make the classic Greek dish moussaka. Greek salad is all you need on the side.
Published: May 19, 2020 at 2:33 pm
Make this classic moussaka for a comforting dinner and accompany with a Greek salad or pick your favourite from our easy Greek recipes to create a Mediterranean-style spread. Then check out our veggie moussaka and other aubergine recipes.
What is moussaka?
Moussaka is a traditional dish of baked sliced aubergines with a tomato and meat (usually lamb) sauce and an egg-enriched béchamel topping. It’s most commonly associated with Greece (where most of us probably first tried it on holiday) but versions of it exist in lots of other countries including Turkey, Egypt and the Balkans.
Many recipes include a layer of cooked, sliced, potatoes – this gives the moussaka a little more bulk and structure and if you are cooking for a crowd it will make everything go a bit further but if you don’t want to add the extra carbs it works equally as well without.
How do you make the best moussaka?
The trick to a perfect moussaka is getting the aubergine slices lovely and tender before you bake them with the sauce. This means they soak up all of the rich flavour and the finished texture is meltingly tender. Undercooked aubergines are spongy and unpleasant so make sure you don’t skip this step.
How do you make the béchamel topping?
The topping for a moussaka is a thick béchamel sauce which is beaten with eggs. Get the sauce nice and smooth before the eggs are added (use a whisk) and season it quite heavily as otherwise it can be bland. The eggs mean that the topping soufflés up in the oven and goes a lovely deep golden brown when cooked.
How do you serve moussaka?
It’s important to leave the moussaka to sit before you serve it up as it’s easier to keep the shape if it’s not molten hot. 10-15 minutes is fine (Alex can we change that on recipe) but it’ll still be hot after 30 minutes sitting. In Greece it’s often served just warm.
Which spices are in moussaka?
The classic spice in a moussaka is cinnamon. You might think it’s strange to add what is traditionally a sweet spice to a savoury dish but it works brilliantly with rich lamb and tomatoes and gives the sauce its distinctive flavour.
Easy moussaka recipe
- aubergines 2 large or 3 smaller, sliced
- olive oil
- potatoes 4, peeled and sliced
- onion 1 large, finely chopped
- garlic 2 cloves, crushed
- minced lamb 750g
- cinnamon 2 tsp
- red wine a glass
- passata 1 × 600ml bottle
- butter 75g
- flour 75g
- milk 600ml
- eggs 2
- green salad to serve
Heat the oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5. Brush the aubergine slices with olive oil and season, put them in a single layer on non-stick baking sheets (you’ll probably need 2 large ones). Cook for 30-40 minutes, turning once, until the aubergines are tender and golden.
Preheat the oven at 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6.
For the lamb sauce, heat two teaspoons of the oil in a pan. Add the onions and garlic and fry until just beginning to brown. Add the minced lamb and fry over a high heat for 3-4 minutes. Add the wine, tomatoes, cinnamon and oregano and simmer gently for 30-40 minutes while you make everything else.
Slice the stalks off the aubergines and cut them lengthways into 5mm/¼in slices. Heat a frying pan until it is jumping hot, add one tablespoon of the oil and a layer of aubergine slices and fry quickly until tender and lightly coloured on each side. Lift out with tongs (every kitchen should have some!), layer over the base of a 2.5-2.75 litre/4 ½-5 pint shallow ovenproof dish and season lightly with a little salt and pepper. Repeat with the rest of oil and aubergines and seasoning each layer as you go.
For the topping, melt the butter in a non-stick pan, add the flour and cook over a medium heat for one minute to cook out the flour. Gradually beat in the milk, bring to the boil, stirring, and leave to simmer very gently for 10 minutes, giving it a stir every now and then. Stir in the cheese and some salt and pepper to taste. Cool slightly and then beat in the eggs.
Remove the cinnamon stick from the lamb sauce, season to taste with some salt and pepper and spoon it over the top of the aubergines. Pour over the topping and bake for 25-30 minutes until the top is golden-brown and bubbling.
This dish can be assembled in advance then chilled until needed. Allow an extra 15 mins in the oven if cooking from cold.
- Butter, for baking dish
- 1 large eggplant (2 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 7 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 2 onions, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 pound ground beef or lamb
- 1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes, drained
- 2 teaspoons tomato paste
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 cup (9 ounces) ricotta cheese, room temperature
- 3/4 cup (4 ounces) feta cheese, room temperature
- 1 large egg, room temperature
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Butter a 4-quart ovenproof dish. On a baking sheet, toss eggplant with 6 tablespoons oil and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Spread in a single layer, and roast in the oven until soft and golden, 20 to 30 minutes. Transfer eggplant to prepared dish, spreading in an even layer.
In a large saucepan, warm remaining tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, and ground meat cook, stirring to prevent sticking, until meat is browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in drained tomatoes, tomato paste, parsley, oregano, cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Simmer, crushing tomatoes with the edge of a spoon, 15 minutes. Spread the mixture evenly over the eggplant.
Heat broiler. In a small bowl, mix ricotta, feta, egg, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and a pinch of salt. Pour mixture over the casserole, and spread evenly to the edges. Broil until topping is browned in spots, 5 to 10 minutes. Serve hot.
- 3 medium aubergines, thinly sliced
- 1tbsp salt
- 4 potatoes, peeled and thickly sliced
- 6tbsp olive oil plus a little extra for frying
- 2 onions, peeled and finely chopped
- 2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- 500g minced beef or lamb
- 1tsp ground cinnamon
- 4 large ripe tomatoes
- 1tbsp tomato puree
- 75ml red wine
- A small handful fresh chopped parsley
- For the topping:
- 40g butter
- 40g plain flour
- 300ml milk
- 75g grated mozzarella or cheddar cheese
Layer up the aubergines, sprinkling with salt as you do in a colander. Place over a bowl and leave whilst preparing the moussaka (see that’s good to know).
Place a large pan of salt water on to boil. When boiling add the sliced potatoes. Reduce heat slightly and simmer for 4-5 mins until just tender but still holding their shape. Drain thoroughly and set aside.
Meanwhile heat 1tbsp of the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onions and garlic, cover and cook gently for 5 mins, stirring once or twice until soft. Add the minced beef or lamb and cook, stirring regularly for a further 5-6 minutes until mince is brown. If using lamb mince, carefully drain off any excess fat.
Sprinkle over the cinnamon and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Meanwhile chop 2 of the tomatoes. Add to the pan with the tomato puree and the red wine. Cover the pan and simmer, stirring regularly for 10 mins. Stir in the chopped parsley.
Meanwhile make the topping: Slice the remaining tomatoes thinly. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the flour to make a paste. Cook, stirring for 1 minute then remove the pan from the heat. Whisk in the milk and season to taste. Return to the heat and bring up to the boil, stirring until thickened. Cover with wetted cling film or greaseproof paper to prevent a skin forming.
Rinse the aubergines and pat dry. Heat half of the remaining oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Fry half of the aubergine slices in an even layer, turning over once until softened and golden. Drain on absorbent kitchen paper. Repeat the process using the remaining oil and aubergines. (If your frying pan is not large enough then cook more batches – see That’s good to know).
Preheat the oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C/350°F. Place the potatoes in an even layer over the base of a large ovenproof dish. Next, layer up the aubergines and minced beef, ending with a layer of aubergines. Spread half of the white sauce over the top of the aubergines. Top with the sliced tomatoes then spread over the remaining white sauce. Sprinkle with the mozzarella or cheddar cheese. Bake for 35-45 mins until golden and bubbling. Serve hot.
Boil the potatoes whole for 20 mins or just until tender. Drain and allow to cool.
Return the pan to the heat and add 2 tbsp olive oil and the onion. Cook until softened, then add the lamb. Fry the mince for 5 mins or until cooked through and starting to char. Add the garlic and spice, and stir in the passata. Bring to a simmer, then season to taste, take off the heat and set aside until needed.
Heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Warm a griddle pan over a high heat and brush a little oil over the aubergines. Grill for 2-3 mins each side or until char lines appear. You may have to do this in 3-4 batches.
Once cool enough to handle, cut the boiled potatoes into thick slices. Put 1 tbsp oil in the base of a deep ovenproof dish and start with a layer of potatoes, then aubergines, a sprinkling of seasoning, then a layer of the lamb mixture. Repeat until all the mixture is used up, ending with a layer of aubergines. Spread the crème fraîche over the top and scatter with the cheese. Put in the oven for 10 mins or until the cheese is golden.
Traditional Moussaka Recipe
This is the traditional moussaka recipe, made with lightly fried eggplants, minced meat and white sauce. Try it, don’t be intimidated by the recipe. Follow the steps and nothing can go wrong.
Wash the eggplants, and slice them rather thinly (about 1 millimeter.) Place them in a bowl with water where you have added about three T salt and leave them for 30 minutes. Strain them and squeeze them to remove excess water. This helps them to absorb less oil when fried as well as remove any bitterness.
In the meantime, add 2 – 3 tablespoonfuls of oil in a deep frying pan and brown the minced meat stirring and breaking up the lumps of meat until there is no pink colour. Add the onions and continue cooking for about 5 minutes longer at which point you add the garlic. Stir the mixture well and let it cook for a couple of minutes longer.
Add the wine to the pan and allow it to evaporate. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste diluted in a cup of water, the allspice and the parsley. Let the mixture boil for a few minutes and taste. Taste the sauce and if it is a bit sour, add the sugar or the ketchup. If it tastes all right, you needn’t add them. Turn the heat down and let the sauce simmer for about 15 minutes to reduce the liquid somewhat. However, the mixture must not be completely dry. There must be a certain amount of sauce, about two cups so that the moussaka is juicy. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add the oregano if used. Taste and adjust seasonings. Turn off the heat and leave aside.
Put enough oil to cover the bottom of a frying pan. Pat the eggplant slices dry and when the oil is hot you start frying them. When they brown on the one side you turn them over and when they brown on the other side as well, you remove them from the pan and place them on kitchen paper to absorb the extra oil. You can add more oil in the pan if needed as you go along, until you have fried all the eggplant slices.
At this stage, if you don’t have enough time to finish the dish, you may put the minced meat and the fried eggplants in separate containers and keep them in the fridge, finishing the recipe the next day. Or you may very well freeze them, and use them at a later date.
Béchamel (White) Sauce
Place the margarine in a pot and melt it at a low temperature. Do not boil. When it is melted, add the flour and stir continuously until the margarine has been absorbed. Warm up the milk and begin adding it a little at a time, beating well after each addition, so that there are no lumps. Take the pot off the heat. Beat the egg yolks (that you have separated from the whites) and add them to the mixture beating well. Add salt and pepper to taste.
The sauce shouldn’t be too thick or too runny. If it is too thick, add some milk or water. If too runny, you should let it simmer at very low heat for a bit longer stirring the mixture every now and then, so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. If you are in a hurry you can add some more flour, sprinkling it with a strainer so that you don’t get any lumps, and stir. Always taste to check the salt before assembling the moussaka.
Assembling the moussaka
Take a pan about 28 x 36 centimeters (11 x 14 inches). Spread a very thin layer of bread crumbs at the bottom. You could oil the pan with a brush, so the right amount of crumbs will stick there. Place the eggplant slices, the one next to the other until the crumbs are covered. Then spread the minced meat mixture over the eggplant. Sprinkle a couple of handfuls of grated cheese over the minced-meat. Now place the rest of the eggplant slices over the meat mixture, covering it completely. Again you can sprinkle a handful or two of grated cheese. And last, spread the béchamel sauce over the eggplant, and sprinkle grated cheese and some breadcrumbs on top.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 170oC (340o F) for about 50 minutes, until cooked through and the top is golden brown.
Take the pan out of the oven and let it rest and cool down for one hour more or less. Then you cut it in squares. This pan will give you 12 large squares.