If you think of Greek dishes, “Moussaka” is for sure one of the first coming to your mind. Beside of “Pastitsio” , it is one of the most delicious dishes.
But, just like its “brother” made with macaroni pasta, it is also time consuming and very rich in calories – so it’s not something to think about when you are on a diet.
Only for the preparation you will have to calculate about 1 hour, the cooking will take almost another hour.
As the vegetables need to be pre-fried, I recommend a good, neutral deep-frying oil if you don’t want to use olive oil. In Greece, most housewives use olive oil even for deep-frying. So do I, as we produce our own oil.
My tip: Do not throw away the remaining oil after frying. Let cool, filter and store in a bottle. You still can use it for short-frying other things.
If you want to make the “Moussaka” more light, you can precook the eggplants and zucchini in the oven: preheat the oven at 200oC. Cut the vegetables as described in the text below in slices. Make grooves with a fork on top of the slices. Place the slices on a baking tin laid with a sheet of baking paper. Slightly salt and add some olive oil on top with a baking brush. Cover with another sheet of baking paper and cook appr. 10-15 minutes in the oven until tender (not dry!).
If you want to enjoy more vegetables, simply double the amount of vegetables mentioned below.
As for the meat, I prefer a low fat minced beef, as to prepare this dish you will anyway use a lot of oil.
For the Bechamel sauce we traditionally use “Kefalotyri”, a hearty yellow, hard cheese made from goat and sheep milk. You also can use Gruyere cheese or Parmesan.
What you need:
3 medium sized potatoes (appr. 600 gr)
2 medium sized zucchini (appr. 500 gr)
2 medium sized eggplants (appr. 500 gr)
For the filling:
1 large onion
1 garlic clove
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 kg minced meat (beef)
1 small carrot
1 glass of dry red wine
1 tsp cinnamon powder
some freshly grounded nutmeg
1 can diced tomatoes (400 gr)
1 pinch of sugar
1 tsp oregano or thyme
Some olive oil to fry
For the Bechamel sauce:
100 gr butter
100 gr all purpose flour
1 liter cold milk
100 gr grated cheese
3 egg yolks
Some oil for the baking tin
How to prepare:
Cut the eggplants, zucchini and potatoes lengthwise in slices appr. 0.5 cm thick.
In a frying pan add enough oil so that the vegetable slices can “swim” while frying. Fry each slices one by one for appr. 3 minutes, flipping once or twice, until slightly brown.
Set aside on a baking tin, laid with two sheets of kitchen towels to drain. Cover with kitchen towel to soak the remaining oil.
Minced meat sauce:
Chop the onions and the garlic clove finely. Clean the carrot and grate finely.
In a large pot heat 4 Tbsp of oil (you can use some of the frying oil from the vegetables). Add the onions and let fry on high for appr. 3 minutes. Add the garlic and fry for another minute.
Add the tomato paste and let fry on high until slightly sticking on the bottom of the pot. This will give a nice taste to the minced sauce.
Add the minced meat and separate with the cooking spoon. Add the carrot and let fry until the meat changed color and eventually slightly browned.
Deglaze with the wine and let cook until all liquid dissolved.
Add the nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, pepper, thyme or oregano.
Add the canned tomato dices and a pinch of sugar.
Let cook on medium heat for appr. 15-20 minutes until the meat got tender and all liquid dissolved.
In a large pot melt the butter. Add the flour and stir until you get a smooth paste. Don’t let it get dark.
Add the cold milk slowly while stirring well.
Add salt, pepper and nutmeg. Let cook on high until thick.
Remove from the heat. Add the grated cheese and stir well.
Preparing the Moussaka:
Preheat the oven on 200oC.
In a baking tin (appr. 25 x 30 cm) spread some olive oil and sprinkle with appr. 2 Tbsp of breadcrumbs. Spread the breadcrumbs evenly by shaking the tin.
Lay out the fried potatoes evenly in one layer. Add on top the fried zucchini slices.
In a bowl mix the egg yolks. Add to the slightly cooled Bechamel sauce while stirring well. Add one large serving spoon of Bechamel sauce to the minced meat and stir.
Add the minced meat on top of the zucchini and spread out evenly.
Place on top the fried eggplants in one even layer.
Top with the remaining Bechamel sauce, spread out evenly.
Cook on the medium rack of the oven on air for appr. 35-40 minutes until top turned golden brown.
Let cool for appr. 45-60 minutes before serving.
Makes 8 servings.