Rustic eggplant, hearty beef, and a sumptuous Bechamel sauce come together for a delicious eggplant moussaka! Creamy veggie rounds fried to perfection and baked in the oven – introducing Greece’s answer to lasagna.
How to describe comfort food? This can mean so many different things to so many different people. For me, comfort food is a meal that warms me up while it fills me up too. But, I can also find a lot of comfort through the cooking process in general.
Like everyone, sometimes I need a recipe that I know will be ready in under 30 minutes. Other times, I like to take my time in the kitchen. The process of chopping, baking, and standing over the stove is strangely comforting to me. Well, maybe it’s not so strange for a food blogger!
Some of my favorite comfort food recipes come out of Greece. These meatballs, stuffed peppers, and another version of lasagna are just a few that come to mind. If you’re like me and don’t mind spending time in the kitchen, I think you’re going to love this eggplant moussaka recipe.
INGREDIENT NOTES AND SUBSTITUTIONS
- Eggplant - Also called aubergines. I slice mine ⅜” thick. I also find that slicing rounds instead of lengthwise strips can help when layering. Your eggplant moussaka will hold up a lot better that way!
- Yellow Potatoes - I slice them ⅜” thick as well. Yellow varieties are the best option as they fry up really nicely!
- Vegetable Oil - For frying. I like canola but you can use your preference!
- Ground Beef - Authentic Greek Moussaka recipes do include some meat. You can technically make this dish vegetarian by subbing in a plant-based meat substitute. For the sauce you’ll also need:
- Olive Oil
- Red Onions - Make sure to chop them into small pieces.
- Garlic - Freshly minced is best.
- Tomato Paste
- Bay Leaf
- Dry Red Wine - The alcohol will evaporate as it cooks down.
- Sugar - To balance out the other flavors.
- Bechamel Sauce - My eggplant moussaka recipe calls for a Bechamel made from scratch:
- Flour - To make your roux.
- Whole Milk - It needs to be room temperature to avoid lumps.
- Salt, Pepper, & Nutmeg - The spice base of any Bechamel!
- Parmesan Cheese
- Egg Yolks - Discard the whites or save them to velvet meat for stir fry!
HOW TO MAKE EGGPLANT MOUSSAKA
1. Prep The Veggies. Cut your aubergines into ⅜” thick round slices and season on both sides with salt. Then, place in a colander for 30 minutes to drain any excess water. This extra step will save you from a watery Greek Moussaka.
2. Make The Meat Sauce. Add olive oil to a deep skillet (or a Dutch oven) and heat. Sauté the onion and garlic. Add your beef, sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Brown the beef and break it into a crumble with a spoon. Add the tomato paste and wine to deglaze. Then, add the bay leaf and stir. Let the sauce cook for about 30 minutes.
3. Make The Bechamel Sauce. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Then, whisk in the flour so that it forms a roux. Add the milk, salt, pepper, and nutmeg, and let the mixture simmer as it forms a thick sauce. Remove it from the heat and add in your Parmesan. After it’s cooled, add the egg yolks.
4. Fry The Veggies. Remove the eggplant from the colander and pat dry. Fry the rounds in olive oil or feel free to bake for about 15 minutes. Either way, set aside when they are done cooking and cut the potatoes into ⅜” thick round slices as well. Fry in the same skillet, or bake.
5. Bake. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Grease the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking dish. Layer the bottom of the dish with potatoes. Then, add layers of aubergines and meat sauce. Spread the bechamel on top with some additional Parmesan. Bake for about 60 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and bubbling with cheesy goodness.
What Is The Difference Between Lasagna And Moussaka?
Lasagna and Greek Moussaka are often confused. They do look similar, but they don’t use the same ingredients. Lasagna is an Italian dish made with pasta, some sort of filling, a tomato sauce, and cheese. Greek Moussaka is made with eggplant, potatoes, and a tomato and ground beef sauce.
What Is Traditionally Served With Moussaka?
Eggplant Moussaka is a heavy meal on its own, but you can serve it with a few side dishes. Some ideas include other veggies, Greek salad, or even garlic bread. You’ll likely fill up pretty quickly on the main dish, so my preference here is definitely a light salad with feta.
Can You Buy Bechamel Sauce?
You can, but I’m a firm believer in making things from scratch when I can! Bechamel is so easy to put together on your own at home, so I recommend you give it a try. If you’re really in a pinch, you can fall back on store-bought options for your Greek Moussaka.
- 2 lbs eggplants sliced ⅜" thick
- 4 yellow potatoes sliced ⅜" thick
- vegetable oil for frying
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 red onions chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 lbs ground beef
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3 tablespoon tomato paste
- 14 oz chopped tomatoes
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 1 bay leaf
- ¼ cup butter
- ⅓ cup flour
- 2 ½ cups whole milk room temperature
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¾ cup Parmesan cheese grated
- 2 egg yolks
- Cut the eggplant into ⅜-inch round slices (See Note 1). Season on both sides with salt and place in a colander for about 30 minutes to drain excess water. Start meat sauce.
- In a deep skillet or Dutch oven add the oil over medium high heat. Saute the onion for several minutes and add the garlic. Cook another 2 minutes and then add the ground beef, sugar, salt and cinnamon. Brown meat, and using spoon, break up meat into a crumble.
- Add the tomato paste and cook for a minute, mixing well. Pour in the tomatoes and wine to deglaze pan, scraping bottom and sides to get the browned bits. Add the bay leaf, stir and turn heat to low and cook uncovered for 30 minutes and liquid reduces. Remove and discard bay leaf. Start Bechamel sauce.
- In a large skillet melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook the "roux" for 2 minutes on low. Carefully whisk in milk, salt, pepper, nutmeg and simmer as sauce thickens, stirring often. Remove from heat and whisk in ½ cup cheese. Let cool 5 minutes and whisk in egg yolks. Start frying eggplant and potatoes.
- Pat the eggplant slices dry and fry in a large skillet with olive oil or bake on a lined baking sheet in a 425°F oven for 15 minutes, turning half way through, until golden brown on both sides. Set aside on lined tray to absorb oil.
- Slice the potatoes into ⅜-inch round slices. Fry in same large skillet with olive oil or bake on another lined baking sheet in a 425°F oven for 15 minutes, turning half way through, until golden brown on both sides. Season with salt and set aside on lined tray to absorb oil.
- Turn oven heat oven to 350°F. Brush butter or olive oil on bottom and sides of 9x13 inch baking dish.
- Layer bottom of pan with overlapping potatoes, a layer of half the eggplant, then spread the the meat sauce on top of the first eggplant layer. Top meat sauce with remaining eggplant slices, overlapping to cover. Spread bechamel sauce on top of final eggplant layer and remaining ¼ cup cheese.
- Bake uncovered for 60 minutes, until top is a golden brown and bubbling. Let cool for 15 minutes minimum before slicing.
- I find slicing the eggplant into rounds instead of lengthwise strips is better when layering as the smaller pieces don't all apart.
*The information shown below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.