Comfort food is a must in my home. We crave delicious foods full of flavor, and one of my favorites is to mix up a batch of authentic Greek moussaka casserole. This layered dish is a traditional meal in the Mediterranean, and specifically a Greek dish that is rich with beef, tomatoes, eggplant, and cheese. A few herbs, a simple layering process, and you have a delicious meal that is sure to satisfy a crowd.
Greek Moussaka Casserole
Moussaka is a delicious dish that originated in Turkey but is more commonly known as a Greek dish. The flavors are common in the region and with eggplant as a large part of the meal, it offers a nice rich meal full of vegetables and flavor. Some include lamb and others are truly vegetarian, but my version uses beef in place of lamb while sticking to all of the other traditional flavors.
Over the years, I have come to love a good meal with Greek flavor. Typically, foods from the Mediterranean are a bit lighter with bright hints of lemon, herbs, and lots of olive oil. This dish is one of the heavier recipes, but still maintains the tomatoes, oil, and classic Greek herb flavors you are used to seeing.
What is the Difference Between Lasagna and Moussaka?
While both are layered casseroles, a lasagna hails from Italy and has a different tomato-based sauce, pasta layers, and tons of cheese. Some lasagnas also include meat, while many are simply cheese or vegetables.
Moussaka is very similar to meat sauce, tomatoes, and layers, but the Greek spice blend and the addition of potatoes make this a slightly different profile of flavor. While there is no cheese, the roux creates a creamy sauce that mimics the texture and creaminess.
What is Greek Moussaka Made Of?
Traditionally, moussaka includes eggplants, lamb, ground meat (lamb), tomato, spices, and a cream sauce. There can be variations that include beef, all vegetables, and some have different herbs included. Fresh tomatoes, tomato paste, or tomato sauce are all often interchangeable in different ways with this recipe depending upon your family recipe or region it comes from originally.
Can Moussaka Be Vegetarian?
You can definitely turn this into a vegetarian dish. There are easy ways to switch out the ground beef and use other proteins to this dish. I love using a vegetarian or vegan meat crumble. GardeIn and Morning Star Farms are both easy to find and work great in place of ground beef. You can also substitute with things like pecans, walnuts, or even mushrooms. All work great as a meat replacement and can easily fit the flavors of this recipe.
- Ground beef
- Tomato sauce and paste
- Chili flakes
- Beef or chicken broth
- Black Pepper
How to Make Greek Moussaka
Place potatoes into salted water, bring to a boil and cook until fork-tender.
Preheat the oven to 400ºF and prepare a baking sheet with non-stick spray or a silicone baking mat.
Slice your eggplants into lengths around 1/4″ thick. Season the eggplant slices generously with salt on both sides, then set aside for 15 minutes.
While the eggplant is resting, peel and slice the boiled potatoes into 1/4″ rounds then set them aside.
After 15 minutes, rinse the eggplants, pat them dry, and then place in a single layer onto a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. When the eggplant is done cooking, remove from the oven and set aside until ready to layer the moussaka.
While the eggplant is baking, heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat.
Saute onions in the oil for 5-7 minutes or until tender and translucent. Mix in the tomato paste and stir well cooking for 1 minute.
Add the ground beef to the skillet and break it down with a spatula. Cook for 10 minutes stirring occasionally until beef is cooked through and browning.
Mix in the chili flakes, paprika, and tomato sauce and mix.
Pour in the broth, reduce the heat to low, and allow it to simmer for another 10 minutes.
While this is simmering, in a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.
Add in the flour, and stir until the flour and butter have combined.
Whisk in the milk, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Cook this mixture down stirring occasionally until it thickens into a béchamel (gravy consistency) then remove from heat.
In a 9″x13″ baking dish, spread half of the meat sauce over the bottom.
Add 1/2 the potato slices in a single layer, then 1/2 the eggplant slices in another layer.
Pour 1/2 the béchamel over the layers, then repeat the layering process again ending with béchamel on top.
Bake the moussaka for 45 minutes.
Remove and rest for 5 minutes before serving.
What to Serve with Moussaka?
Since this is a heavy casserole dish, you want to serve this with something light and refreshing. This Persian shirazi salad is a great bright cucumber salad that fits well with moussaka. Other salads that pair well with this meal are the cucumber and pomegranate salad and the beetroot and feta salad recipes. All three are bright, healthy, and a perfect side to this heavier dish. Of course, I also like to add a nice bright fruit to the side, and this fresh berry salad is a favorite on my menu.
Many also like to serve this with some crispy bread. You can pick up a nice pita, baguette, or other bread with a nice crust in any market, but I like making my own homemade French bread recipe instead.
When I am making recipes that require a lot of slicing, like this one, I reach for my mandolin vegetable slicer. It makes perfectly even cuts and is so much faster and more convenient than slicing a ton of vegetables by hand.
- 2 eggplants, sliced
- 3 potatoes, boiled, peeled and sliced
- 1 onion, minced
- 1 lb ground beef
- 10 oz. tomato sauce
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1/2 cup beef broth (chicken or vegetable can be substituted)
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 2 cups whole milk
- 3 tbsp butter
- 3 tbsp flour
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF and prepare a baking sheet with non-stick spray or a silicone baking mat.
- Season the eggplant slices on all sides with salt then set aside to rest for 15 minutes;
- After 15 minutes, rinse the eggplant slices, pat them dry, and place into a single layer ont he prepared baking sheet and cook for 20 minutes;
- While the eggplant is cooking, heat olive oil in a large skilet over medium heat and cook the onions for 5-7 minutes;
- Mix the tomato paste in with the onions and cook for an additional minute;
- Add the ground beef to the skillet and break down with a spatula then cook for an additional 10 minutes;
- Add the chili flakes, paprika, and tomato sauce to the meat mixture and stir then pour in the broth and reduce heat;
- Simmer this for 10 minutes;
- While this is simmering, in a medium saucepan melt the butter and then stir in the flour and mix until combined;
- Add the milk, salt, pepper, and nutmeg then cook this mixture over medium heat until it thickens into a béchamel;
- Spread 1/2 the meat mixture over the bottom of a 9"x13" baking dish;
- Top the meat mixture with a layer of 1/2 potato slices then a layer of 1/2 the eggplant slices and finally 1/2 the béchamel sauce;
- Repeat again and then place into the oven at 350ºF and bake for 45 minutes until heated through and the top is beginning to brown;
- Remove from the oven and let the moussaka rest for 5 minutes before serving.
- Add different ground meats to lighten the recipe if desired.
- Substitute skim or 1% milk in place of whole milk to lower fat content.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 502Total Fat: 23gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 91mgSodium: 678mgCarbohydrates: 49gFiber: 9gSugar: 15gProtein: 29g