Greek Layered Eggplant and Meat Casserole

Moussaka is more than just a dish; it’s a storied recipe that encapsulates the heart and soul of Greek cuisine. This layered marvel combines succulent ground lamb or beef ensconced between silky slices of eggplant, all smothered in a rich béchamel sauce that crisps up into a golden hue when baked. The spices like cinnamon and nutmeg add a subtle but distinct depth that contrasts beautifully with the creamy texture of the sauce and the robust flavors of the meat.

Preparing this dish is a labor of love, from the careful roasting of eggplant to the meticulous simmering of the meat sauce and the crafting of the smooth béchamel. The result is a gratifying, hearty casserole that beckons with each savory bite, promising warmth and satisfaction. Moussaka is not just a meal; it’s a celebration of tradition and flavor, perfect for gatherings or a fulfilling family dinner.

Full Recipe:

  • Ingredients:
    • 2 large eggplants
    • Salt
    • Olive oil
    • 1 large onion, chopped
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 lb (450g) ground lamb or beef
    • 1 can (14 oz/400g) diced tomatoes
    • 2 tbsp tomato paste
    • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
    • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • 1/2 cup (120ml) red wine (optional)
    • 1/2 cup (120ml) beef or vegetable broth
    • 1/4 cup (60ml) chopped parsley
    • 1/4 cup (60g) butter
    • 1/4 cup (30g) all-purpose flour
    • 2 cups (480ml) milk
    • Pinch of nutmeg
    • 1 cup (100g) grated Parmesan cheese
    • 1/2 cup (60g) breadcrumbs
  • Directions:
    1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
    2. Slice the eggplants lengthwise into 1/4-inch (0.5 cm) slices. Sprinkle with salt and let sit for 30 minutes to draw out the bitterness. Rinse and pat dry.
    3. Brush the eggplant slices with olive oil and place them on a baking sheet. Roast for 20-25 minutes, or until tender.
    4. In a large skillet, heat some olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes.
    5. Add the ground lamb or beef to the skillet and cook until browned, breaking it up with a spoon.
    6. Stir in the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Add the red wine and broth. Simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened. Stir in the parsley.
    7. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the milk until smooth. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens. Season with salt, pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg.
    8. To assemble the moussaka, layer half of the roasted eggplant slices in the bottom of a greased 9×13-inch baking dish. Spoon half of the meat sauce over the eggplant. Repeat the layers.
    9. Pour the béchamel sauce over the top of the moussaka and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs.
    10. Bake in the preheated oven for 45-50 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and bubbly.
    11. Let the moussaka cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.
  • Prep Time: 1 hour | Cooking Time: 1 hour 35 minutes | Total Time: 2 hours 35 minutes
  • Kcal: 600 kcal | Servings: 6 servings

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