Moussaka is basically a hearty eggplant casserole with a juicy, flavor-packed meat sauce. Topping the meat is either a rich bechamel sauce.
To be sure, the variations in moussaka go beyond the topping. Some recipes call for layers of other vegetables like zucchini squash; but more commonly, a layer of thinly sliced potatoes.
- 2 large eggplants, sliced lengthwise into ¼ inch-thick slices, end slices discarded
- Olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 lb ground lamb (or beef)
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- ½ tsp hot paprika
- ½ cup red wine
- 1 14 oz can diced tomato
- 1 tsp sugar
- ½ cup hot beef broth
- 2 large russet potatoes, peeled, very thinly sliced lengthwise
- 4 tbsp dried bread crumbs
- ¾ cup fat free Greek yogurt
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature, beaten
- 1 tbsp all purpose flour
- ½ cup ricotta or cream cheese
- 3 oz crumbled feta cheese
- Spread the eggplant slices in one layer and sprinkle with salt. Let set for 30 minutes to “sweat out” its bitterness
- Pat the eggplant slices dry and assemble in one layer on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Drizzle generously with olive oil.
- Place the baking sheet on the top oven rack and broil briefly, turning over so that both sides of the eggplant are softened and golden brown (do not worry if parts of the eggplant are slightly charred, but watch carefully so it doesn’t burn).
- Remove from the oven and set aside
- Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a skillet. Cook the onions on medium heat until they turn slightly golden brown, stirring regularly (about 5 minutes).
- Now add the ground lamb.
- Cook the lamb until fully browned, tossing regularly.
- Drain the lamb from any excess fat and return back to the skillet. Now add the dried oregano, ground cinnamon, pepper, nutmeg, and hot paprika. Stir to coat the meat with the spices.
- Add the wine and boil for 1 minute to reduce.
- Stir in the canned tomatoes, sugar and broth. Simmer on medium-low heat for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- In the meantime, boil the sliced potatoes in plenty of water until they are completely soft and easily breakable (about 5-7 minutes). Drain the water and set the potatoes aside briefly.
- To prepare the cheese topping, whisk the Greek yogurt with the eggs and flour. Add the ricotta and feta cheese and whisk again to combine.
- When ready, lightly oil a 9½” x 13″ oven-safe baking pan. Layer the eggplant slices on the bottom.
- Add the meat sauce and spread to cover the eggplant.
- Layer the potato slices to cover the meat sauce and sprinkle with the bread crumbs. Finally spread the cheese topping to thinly cover the potatoes.
- Bake in the 350 F degree-heated oven for 45 minutes. If you need to, transfer the baking pan to the top rack and broil briefly so that the top of the moussaka gains a nice golden brown color (watch carefully).
- Remove from the heat and let sit 5-7 minutes before cutting through into squares to serve.
- You can prepare and cook the eggplant, meat sauce, and potatoes (steps 1-5) the day before or even a couple days in advance.
- Place each in its own tightly-shut container and store in the fridge.
- The day you are ready to serve the moussaka, bring the ingredients to room temperature.
- Prepare the cheese topping, then assemble the moussaka in an oven-safe dish and bake
Enjoy your moussaka!