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).
Nuts about food says
I adore Moussaka! For some reason I have always been so set on making it with lamb mince (which I love too and is not easy to be found here – at all) that I never thought of making it with beef. I have been depriving myself all these years…your looks scrumptious.
You know… I have tried it with lamb mince too when we moved here (I know it is so hard to find in Italy), but my husband and I both liked the beef version more… so I stuck to it! hehehe <3
Nuts about food says
I will take your word for it and try it!
Oh I love it. It’s a wonderful dish and your recipe is very clear. Thanks, Manu
I love how you have taken a favorite and adapted it to your own taste. That’s what cooking is all about, I reckon. This looks delicious! I love the photos.
I love hearty dishes like this Manu! And I feel like I can smell those sauteed veggies! 😀
oh…now day quite busy how r u manu? This recipe is really nice. i like sautéed veggies.
Gorgeous. Looks very yummy. I have tried making Moussaka several times but it never comes out like yours. I guess it matters a lot how much of each layer you put in. Thanks for sharing your wonderful recipe.
Katherine Martinelli says
Moussaka has been on my list to make for some time and this recipe looks awesome! Amazing photos, Manu.
[email protected] says
This sounds and looks delish! I can’t believe I have never had Moussaka- all the ingredients are things I love. Great job Manu- and have a great weekend!
Sandra's Easy Cooking says
I made this last year when I had a Greek week on my blog and I do love it! Your recipe, presentation and photos are truly mouthwatering Manu! I have to make this sometimes again! Thanks so much for sharing!!
Hi Manu! Although I don’t know what Moussaka is and how it taste like but from all your ingredients and the step by step photos, I know this is a very delicious dish! 😀
Maybe I could try this with pastas and I’m sure they taste great too! 🙂
Buona la moussaka!! I never actually made it, but now you showed me the way!!
Nami @ Just One Cookbook says
I have never tried Moussaka before (and didn’t know it’s Greek food), but I would enjoy this for sure. You know good thing about step-by-step, I can see what’s in there while scrolling down and I’m more comfortable to give it a try to cook or order at Greek restaurant. You are giving us tremendous information about this food already. I appreciate your hard work Manu! Looks DELICIOUS!
Moussaka is one of my favorites. This recipe sounds delicious.
I would love if you would visit my blog too. Thank you, Catherine
[email protected] in disguise says
Oh I love Moussaka..and your version sounds amazing
I make mine with eggplants ..will have to try it your way
Giulietta @ Alterkitchen says
I prefer lasagne (I’m still Italian :D), but I like moussaka very much… I ate a ton of it in every Greek travel (and souvlaki, and tzatziki, and more), but I never thought about making it at home… WHY?! WHYYYY?!?!
Thanks for the recipe, Manu! I’ll give it a try!
Wow! I love all the layers of vegetables in this moussaka. This would definitely be a great way to try out some very healthy, very yummy food.
What a lovely moussaka recipe!! I had “real” greek moussaka before made by my Greek neigbour, but it didn’t look half as good as yours!
Elodie Jane Amora says
This looks delicious! 🙂
I’m afraid I may be asking for a tragedy, but do you have any ideas on how to do Moussaka without the dairy? I like the meat sauce and veggies (especially the eggplant) in this dish, but (a) I keep kosher and (b) dairy tends to sit poorly with me.
Hi Gilbert! I have never tried this, but you could try and give this recipe a go: http://www.dairyfreeme.com/recipes/bechamel-sauce You could use this dairy free bechamel as a substitute for the cheese sauce. If you try it, please let me know how it came out! 🙂
I thought you would be interested in this little known fact about moussaka:
Moussaka (from Arabic: مسقعة musaqqaʿa ‘chilled'; in Greek: “μουσακάς” Mousakás, South Slavic: musaka/мусака, Turkish: musakka, Hungarian: rakott padlizsán) is an eggplant based dish of the Balkans, Eastern Mediterranean, & the Middle East. The best known variation is the Greek one.
Most versions are based primarily on sautéed eggplant (aubergine) and tomato, usually with minced meat. The Greek version includes layers of meat and aubergine topped with a white sauce/Béchamel sauce and baked. Turkish musakka, on the other hand, is not layered. Instead, it is prepared with sautéed aubergines, green peppers, tomatoes, onions, and minced meat. It is eaten with cacık and pilaf. There are also variants with zucchini, carrots and potatoes. The Serbian version and Bulgarian version use potatoes instead of aubergines, pork mince and the top layer is yogurt mixed with raw eggs and a couple of spoons of flour. In the Arab world, moussaka is a cooked salad made up primarily of tomatoes and aubergine, similar to Italian parmigiana, and is usually served cold as a mezze dish.
The modern Greek version was probably invented by Tselementes in the 1920s. It has three layers: a bottom layer of sautéed aubergine slices; a middle layer of cooked ground lamb cooked with onion, garlic, chopped tomatoes, herbs, and spices (cinnamon, allspice and black pepper); and a top layer of béchamel sauce or egg custard. The composed dish is baked until the top layer is browned. Moussaka is usually served lukewarm.
In Serbia and Bulgaria there is also a three-layer version: the bottom layer consists of ground pork and beef, the middle layer slices of potatoes, the top layer a custard. Each layer is cooked on its own and layered in a pan and baked until the top layer is browned.
Hester Casey - Alchemy in the Kitchen says
Love that little flashback to Paris, Manu. I have food memories like that too. The best mousakas I’ve eaten have been outside Greece too! Going to try your version because this is a dish I love.
Very nice recipe and loads of great pics, so much better than a pure text method explanation. Thanks for posting 🙂
Beth Michelle says
Your moussaka looks delicious. I havent had moussaka in years! I will have to try this recipe.
Thomas White. says
The DNA of this dish seems very italian. The traditional mousakka is turkish, this version was made in the 1920’s and resembles a lasagna mixed with a traditional eggplant parmesan.