This is definitely not an Italian recipe. As everyone knows moussaka is a traditional Greek dish. I still remember the first time I ate it. I was in Paris with my parents and we went out for dinner in the area of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, an area filled with little French and foreign restaurants. I was a little child then, but I remember entering a small Greek restaurant and choosing to eat this dish with a strange name that my mom explained to me was “similar to lasagne”. Well, the concept is surely very similar… but instead of pasta, there are lots of yummy veggies hidden between the meat and the cheese sauces. I fell in love with this dish at first bite and have eaten it many times since then. Now that I have grown up, I have my homemade version of it and it is slightly different to the one I ate that night. I don’t only make it with eggplant, but I like using eggplant, zucchini and potatoes and the layer of cheese sauce is definitely thinner in my version. I am not Greek and I am not saying this is authentic moussaka… it is simply how we like eating it. Hope you enjoy it! And if you haven’t done it yet, remember to participate in my international giveaway for a chance to win a digital scale!
Recipe adapted from “Step-by-Step, Greek Cooking” by Anne Wilson
2 eggplants, sliced
3 zucchini, sliced
3 potatoes, sliced
For the meat sauce
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 big onion, thinly chopped
500 gms beef mince
¼ glass white wine
450 ml tomato puree
1 tbsp parsley, chopped
1 tbsp Mediterranean mixed dry herbs (sage, thyme, rosemary, basil, marjoram, oregano)
1 bay leaf
½ tsp cinnamon
For the cheese sauce (I made this quantity but divided it into 2 oven proof dishes. This quantity would normally be used in 1 oven proof dish only)
90 gms butter
1/3 cup flour
2 cups milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 cup Pecorino Romano, thinly grated (or other hard sheep milk cheese)
To make the meat sauce:
Put the chopped onion and extra virgin olive oil in a frying pan and let it cook until the onion is soft and almost transparent.
Now add the mince and break any lumps with a wooden spoon. Brown the meat well on a medium-high flame.
When the mince is brown, add the wine, increase the fire and let the alcohol evaporate.
Then add the tomato puree, salt, pepper, parsley, bay leaf, mixed herbs and cinnamon. Stir well, add a glass of water, cover and let it cook on a low flame until the sauce thickens.
When ready, keep aside.
For the vegetables:
Slice all the vegetables in 1 cm thick slices (eggplants and zucchini) and 0.5 cm thick slices (potatoes). Put the sliced eggplants in salty cold water and keep them there for at least half an hour so they will not taste bitter.
Deep fry all the vegetables in hot vegetable oil in batches and keep them aside on kitchen paper to remove any excess oil.
For the cheese sauce:
Heat the milk and keep it aside. Melt the butter in a medium sized pot. Add the flour and stir well either with a wooden spoon or with a whisk so that no lumps form. Slowly add the hot milk while continuously stirring your sauce. Add salt and let it cook for 5 minutes.
Add the grated Pecorino Romano and stir well. Put the fire off, cover it to prevent a skin from forming and let the sauce cool down. Lightly beat the eggs and add them to the cool sauce.
Stir well and keep aside.
Now you are ready to assemble your moussaka.
Put a layer of eggplants in an oven proof dish, then a layer of meat sauce, then a layer of potatoes, then a layer or meat sauce, then a layer of zucchini, then a layer of meat sauce. Finish with a layer of eggplant and meat and pour the cheese sauce on the top.
Bake in a preheated fan forced oven at 180°C for 20 minutes or until golden and heated through.
Slice it and enjoy!
I am submitting this recipe to this month’s recipe challenge over at Food Frenzy. This month’s ingredient is “cinnamon”. To vote for this and all the other yummy recipes, click here (voting opens on the 15th).