Rustic Greek Moussaka
I am quite sure that there is no one out there who haven’t tasted or at least heard of Moussaka: a very traditional Greek dish. Being one of the most famous dishes out there, moussaka has plenty of variations depending on the area is being prepared. Pretty much, each family owns their own moussaka recipe. Usually, is being made with layers of potato, eggplant, zucchini, with a rich beef tomato sauce, topped with bechamel and cheese. As said before, different versions of this plate can be found: from vegetarian moussaka, to the one without potato (or zucchini) layer or finally to the one using lamb or pork instead of beef. The most important, is that this dish is always made with love!
Someone can say that moussaka is to the Greeks what lasagna is to Italians. Which means it can take a little effort, it can mess up your kitchen big time, but in the end it is totally worth it.
Recipe (4 servings) ingredients:
For the layering:
- 4 medium size peeled potatoes
- 2 big eggplants
- 2 big zucchinis
Cut the vegetables into slices of less than 1cm thickness. Before start cooking them, sprinkle the surface of each slice with salt. This is important, especially for the eggplants, as it will remove some of their bitterness and it will improve their texture upon baking. As you will soon notice, the vegetables will release a lot of moisture. Make sure to rinse this off well and place the vegetables on a clean kitchen towel and place another towel over top, pressing down to dry them as much as possible.
I never use oil for the vegetables; I always cook them on a grill skillet. But of course this is up to you. Cook all the vegetables until they are brown on each side. Once cooked, layer the potatoes on the bottom of a baking dish, then the eggplants and finally the zucchinis.
For the sauce:
- 500g ground beef
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 400g crushed tomatoes
- 1 bunch of parsley finely chopped
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp cumin
- 120ml white wine
- 1 tbs olive oil
- salt, pepper
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and saute the onion over medium heat for about 4 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook for another minute. Add the ground beef and stir to be mixed with the onion and garlic. Continue cooking until the minced meat becomes brown. Add the parsley and stir. Cook for another minute. Increase the heat and add the white wine. Stir until the wine is evaporated. Add the cinnamon, the dried oregano and the cumin. Season the meat with salt and pepper and mix well. Add the canned tomatoes and let boil for about a minute. Decrease the fire to medium and let the sauce cook for about 30-40 minutes. Once the sauce is ready (most of the water has been evaporated), remove the skillet from the fire and let it cool down.
For the bechamel:
- 3 tbs unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/3 cup grated parmesan or halloumi cheese
- 4 cups whole milk
- 4 egg yolks
- pinch of cinnamon
- salt, pepper
Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat. Add flour and cook for 1 minute, using a whisk to stir. Add 1 cup of milk and whisk to combine. Once it thickens, add the remaining milk. Whisk over medium heat until smooth and then cook until it thickens, for about 3-4 minutes. Remove from the stove and and the cheese. Whisk for about 5 minutes until is cooled down. Whisk the eggs in and season with salt and pepper. Finally, add a pinch of cinnamon to taste.
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Cover the zucchini slices with the beef sauce. Ladle the bechamel over the sauce. Sprinkle with some grated halloumi or parmesan cheese on top. Bake the moussaka for about 30-40 minutes, until the top becomes brown. Remove from the oven and let it cool down for about 10 minutes before serving.
Enjoy this lovely meal with a some tzatziki and Greek salad!!!
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