Moussaka for Valentines!

Moussaka is almost a “staple” dish in Greek cuisine along with Olives and Feta. A traditional Greek Eggplant Moussaka is a casserole dish made by adding thick layers of eggplant and potatoes with a spiced meat filling in tomato sauce. It is then finished off by adding a topping of béchamel sauce (creamy egg enriched sauce which is very similar to white sauce) and baking it to perfection till its crispy and has that famous golden look on the top.

It was made famous by the legendary Greek chef Nicholas Tselementes and whilst it can be time consuming and laborious to make, it is most definitely worth the effort and will certainly impress your visitors and family. What is more, due to its richness in ingredients and taste, it is hearty and filling so you won’t need many side dishes to accompany it.

So let’s have a look at the main ingredients you will need but always remember you can add a little twist yourself by adding some delicious peppers or chillies to the mince.

Nutritional Guidelines

Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
933 Calories
53g Fat
68g Carbs
46g Protein
(Nutrition information is an estimate calculated using an ingredient database)
  • Total:2 hrs 45 mins
  • Prep:2 hrs
  • Cook:45 mins
  • Yield:6 to 8 Servings

Ingredients

For the Vegetables

  • 3 to 4 eggplants (about 4 pounds)
  • Salt
  • 1 pound potatoes
  • Olive oil (for greasing baking sheets)
  • 8 large egg whites (reserving the yolks for the béchamel)
  • 2 cups plain breadcrumbs

For the Meat Filling

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef (or lamb)
  • 2 large onions (finely diced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley (chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Freshly ground pepper (to taste)

For the Béchamel Sauce

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups milk (warmed)
  • 8 large egg yolks (lightly beaten)
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • For the Assembly
  • Breadcrumbs (for the bottom of the pan)
  • 1 cup Kefalotyri cheese (grated, or freshly grated Parmesan cheese)

How to make

Vegetables:

  • Using a sharp peeler, partially peel the eggplants, leaving strips of peel about 1-inch wide around the eggplant. Slice the eggplant into 1/2-inch slices.
  • Place the eggplant slices in a colander and salt them liberally. Cover them with an inverted plate and weigh down the plate with a heavy can or jar. Place the colander in the sink and let it sit for at least 15 to 20 minutes, preferably 1 hour.
  • Peel the potatoes, place whole in a pot, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil. Cook until they are just done for no more than about 10 minutes. They should not get too soft, just cooked enough so that they no longer crunch. Drain, cool, and cut them into 1/4-inch slices. Set them aside or in water.
  • Heat the oven to 400 F. Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil and lightly grease with oil.
  • Add a splash of water to some egg whites and beat them lightly with a fork. Place breadcrumbs on a flat plate.
  • Rinse the eggplant slices and dry with paper towels. Dip the eggplant slices in the beaten egg whites and then dredge them in the breadcrumbs, coating both sides.
  • Place breaded eggplant slices on the foil-lined baking sheets and bake for 30 minutes, turning them over once during cooking.
  • When eggplant is finished cooking, set aside and lower the oven temperature to 350 F.

Meat Filling:

  • In a large sauté pan, brown the ground beef until the pink color disappears. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • Add wine to the pan and allow it to simmer and reduce a bit before adding cinnamon, allspice, parsley, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, and sugar.
  • Allow the sauce to simmer, uncovered, for approximately 15 minutes so that excess liquid can evaporate. It should be a drier, chunkier sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Make the Bechamel Sauce:

  • In a large saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add flour to melted butter, whisking continuously to make a smooth paste. Let the flour cook for a minute but do not allow it to brown
  • Add warmed milk to mixture in a steady stream, whisking continuously. Simmer over low heat until it thickens a bit but does not boil.
  • Remove from heat, and stir in beaten egg yolks and pinch of nutmeg. Return to the heat and stir until sauce thickens. Set aside.

Assemble the Moussaka:

  • Lightly grease a large deep baking pan (a lasagna pan works perfectly). Sprinkle the bottom of the pan with breadcrumbs.
  • Leaving a 1/4-inch space around the edges of the pan, place the potatoes in a layer on the bottom. Top with a layer of half of the eggplant slices.
  • Add the meat sauce on top of the eggplant layer and sprinkle with 1/4 of the grated cheese. Top with another layer of eggplant slices and sprinkle once again with 1/4 of the grated cheese.
  • Pour the béchamel sauce over all, being sure to allow the sauce to fill the sides and corners of the pan. Smooth the béchamel on top with a spatula and sprinkle with remaining grated cheese.
  • Bake for 45 minutes or until béchamel sauce is a nice golden brown color. Allow it to cool for 15 to 20 minutes before slicing and serving.

You are good to go. Enjoy your meal!

So give it a go and don’t forget to order all the necessary ingredients and herbs from the Greek deli by simply clicking here for your olive oil, pasta and here for your herbs and sauce. There is no better way to ones heart than through their stomach, so how about treating your Loved one  to a homemade meal for dinner this Valentines?

Let us know how your attempt came out (we are more than certain it will be delicious) and do send us your images and photos by simply tagging #TheGreekDeli on Instagram!

Moussaka is a classic dish in the Levant, Middle East, and Balkans, with many local and regional variations. What is more it is not always eaten in the same way as Greeks tend to serve it hot whereas in Turkey, thinly sliced eggplant is fried and served in a tomato-based meat sauce and usually consumed warm or at room temperature. Finally in the Arab countries it is often eaten cold, but is also served hot in some regions.

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