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Naughty moussaka recipe

Naughty moussaka recipe

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  • Recipes
  • Ingredients
  • Meat and poultry
  • Lamb
  • Lamb mince

A traditional Greek dish with a twist. I call it Naughty Moussaka because of the cream in the topping.

Limassol, Cyprus

28 people made this

IngredientsServes: 4

  • 2 large aubergines
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • olive oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 500g lamb mince
  • 1 dash Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 (400g) tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 lamb stock cube dissolved in 300ml water
  • 2 eggs
  • 250ml single cream
  • 100g Cheddar cheese, grated

MethodPrep:45min ›Cook:30min ›Ready in:1hr15min

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C / Gas 4.
  2. Slice aubergines into a colander, salt well, and leave to stand for 30 minutes. Rinse well, drain and pat dry with kitchen roll.
  3. Place aubergine slices on a non-stick tray, brush with olive oil, and bake for 20 to 30 minutes until brown.
  4. Fry the onion in olive oil, add the mince, and cook until brown.
  5. Add the Worcestershire sauce, pepper, cinnamon, tomatoes and stock, and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes.
  6. In a casserole dish, place a layer of aubergines, then a layer of mince mixture. Repeat layers.
  7. In a jug, combine eggs and cream and whisk well.
  8. Sprinkle 50g of cheese on top of mince mixture, add the rest of the cheese to egg mixture and stir well. Pour the egg mixture on top of the mince.
  9. Bake at 180 C / Gas 4 for 30 minutes, until the top is browned and set. Serve with salad.

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Moussaka Recipe

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This Greek Moussaka Recipe is packed with layers and layers of eggplant, zucchini, potatoes, meat, and a creamy bechamel sauce. This Moussaka is so hearty and will surely tickle your tastebuds.

Balkan-style moussaka

Greek cuisine, so often characterized here in L.A. as kind of, you know, “Mediterranean,” is a unique blend of ancient, Byzantine, Baltic, Turkish and Venetian influences.

And if you look a little more closely at some of Greece’s best loved dishes -- moussaka (eggplant and lamb casserole), pastitsio (pasta, cheese and meat casserole) and yiouvetsi (meat, orzo and tomato casserole), all seemingly homey baked melanges -- you’ll discover the descendants of noble, even royal dishes. Although they’re as easy to make as mac ‘n’ cheese, the complex, layered creations were originally served for Sunday dinners and special occasions.

Moussaka, almost a cliche as a Greek standard, is actually a relatively new “national” dish, arriving on the Greek mainland only in the 1920s. It was brought, during a time of political upheaval, by Greeks of the eastern regions whose cuisines had, for 2,000 years, been intertwined with the sophisticated, cosmopolitan cuisines of the people of the Byzantine and Ottoman empires. These Asia Minor Greeks were urban dwellers and knew French and Italian cooking techniques.

Made of eggplant slices layered with a sauce of ground lamb, it is traditionally topped with a bechamel sauce enriched with eggs. It’s a summer dish, made when eggplant is in season, and usually made the day before serving.

Martha Rose Schulman’s Balkan-style version lightens the topping, using a mixture of yogurt, eggs and kefalotiri cheese (a sheep’s- and goat’s-milk cheese), which is unique, but may be compared to pecorino instead of the traditional bechamel sauce. She also bakes the eggplant instead of frying it, as is traditional. The spicing of this and other moussakas -- cloves, cinnamon, allspice -- speaks of its Byzantine origins.

Yiouvetsi, a casserole of lamb, beef or veal with orzo and tomato, is named for the earthenware baking dish it was traditionally baked and served in.

“I remember my mother would prepare the yiouvetsi early Sunday morning,” recalls Cosmas Kapantzos, owner of Astro Burger on Melrose in Hollywood whose business is American hamburgers, but who makes yiouvetsi for family and friends at home. In Greece when he was growing up, he says, the whole family would drop off the unbaked yiouvetsi at the bakery or fournou on the way to church. “You would pay about five drachmas to have the casserole baked,” he says. “After church my sister and I would stop by the bakery to pick up the casserole and a loaf of fresh baked bread while my mother went home to start preparing lunch.”

A moshari yiouvetsi (veal and pasta casserole) inspired by Kapantzo’s recipe uses orzo, the rice-shaped pasta, and mizithra cheese, a sheep’s- or goat’s-milk cheese that adds a distinct salty flavor. The long baking results in fork-tender veal. White wine in the tomato sauce gives an added dimension, and a garnish of chopped green onion, parsley and mint adds a modern zing.

Like moussaka, pastitsio is a sweet-savory layered dish. Its name is derived from the Italian word pasticcio (hodgepodge), but its origins are with the grand molded timballos of Italy. It’s made with tubular pasta such as penne or elbow macaroni mixed with eggs and kefalotiri cheese. The meat sauce, spiced with cinnamon and cloves, is spread over the pasta and topped with a bechamel-kefalotiri sauce. Our version is adapted from a recipe used by Anne-Marie Olympios, a Belgian-born travel-tour leader whose husband is Greek and whose cooking reflects her international experience. Her use of butter is authentic to the regions of Greece where dairy products dominate and olive trees don’t grow.

Traditionally Greek dishes are served warm or at room temperature rather then hot out of the oven. Each of these casseroles should rest for at least 20 minutes after being removed from the oven to allow them to finish cooking and allow the flavors to blend.

It’s worth a trip to a Greek market for mizithra or kefalotiri cheese. While you’re there, pick up a bottle or two of Greek wine, bread, olives and some honey-sweetened pastry or cookies to serve with your casserole. Otherwise, all you need to accompany these rich one-dish meals is a simple salad: sliced romaine with chopped green onion, olive oil and vinegar, maybe, or a classic combination of sliced tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, Kalamata olives and oregano with an olive oil and vinegar dressing.

Moussaka vs lasagna

To my mind, moussaka is a more healthy version of lasagna, as the pasta is substituted with eggplants.

I actually love baking lasagna (and of course eating it, who doesn’t?). But when I tried moussaka recipe, I thought is was much more tastier! Well first of all, to my mind, eggplant gives this dish more flavor. Moreover, eggplant makes it “juicier”, which is great. This eggplant dish melts in your mouth!

If you love eggplant recipes, you should also try our Stuffed Eggplant boats, which is a great snack.


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My mother’s side of the family is Greek. When I was little, my yiayia (grandmother) lived with us. She took care of me and cooked for the family. My first memories stretch back to when I was barely able to reach the stove, yet still determined to “help” her in the kitchen. She and my pappou (grandfather) opened a successful restaurant, The College Inn Café. It was in this restaurant that they built their American dreams. Her life, much like my own, revolved around the kitchen. My yiayia made her own dolmades (using fresh grape leaves), cured her own olives, and of course made moussaka. One thing you need to understand about Greek grandmothers and mothers: They all make moussaka. Naturally, every Greek swears that their mother or grandmother’s moussaka is the best. In Greece there’s even a cooking competition show called My Mother Cooks Better than Your Mother, in which rosy-cheeked, apron-clad mothers throw down in the kitchen like MMA fighters. We Greeks take our cooking seriously! I’ll let you decide for yourself if my yiayia’s recipe is the best moussaka.

  • 1 (1 pound) eggplant, peeled (if desired) and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • ½ pound lean ground beef or ground lamb
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce with basil, garlic, and oregano
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of ground pepper
  • ½ cup fat-free milk
  • ½ cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • ½ cup light ricotta cheese
  • ⅓ cup refrigerated or frozen egg product, thawed
  • 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat a very large nonstick skillet with cooking spray heat over medium-high heat. Add eggplant cook about 6 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Set aside.

Meanwhile, cook ground beef (or lamb) in a large skillet until browned. Drain off fat. Stir in tomato sauce and 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon. Bring to boiling reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for about 8 minutes or until the sauce thickens, stirring occasionally. Divide the meat mixture among four individual 12- to 14-ounce au gratin or baking dishes. Top with the eggplant.

Melt butter in a small saucepan. Stir in flour, salt, and pepper. Add milk and yogurt all at once. Cook and stir over medium heat until thick and bubbly remove from heat. Stir in ricotta cheese. Stir in egg product. Spoon atop the eggplant and sprinkle lightly with additional ground cinnamon.

Bake, uncovered, about 25 minutes or until heated through. Top with Parmesan, if desired. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Recipe Summary

  • 6 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups canned crushed tomatoes in thick puree (one 15-ounce can)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Fresh-ground black pepper
  • 1 eggplant (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Heat the broiler. In a large stainless-steel frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over moderate heat. Add the onion and garlic cook until starting to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the lamb and cook until the meat loses its pink color, about 2 minutes. Stir in the wine, tomato paste, tomatoes, bay leaf, cinnamon, allspice, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.

Brush both sides of the eggplant slices with the remaining 5 tablespoons oil and season with 1/8 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Put the eggplant slices on a large baking sheet and broil, 6 inches from the heat, until browned, about 5 minutes. Turn and broil until browned on the other side, about 5 minutes longer.

In a small saucepan, combine the cream cheese, milk, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and a pinch of pepper. Warm over low heat until just melted.

Oil an 8-by-8-inch baking dish. Layer half the eggplant in the dish, then half the meat sauce. Sprinkle with half the Parmesan. Repeat with the remaining eggplant, meat sauce, and Parmesan. Spoon the cream-cheese sauce on top broil until just starting to brown, 1 to 2 minutes.

Traditional Moussaka Recipe

This is the traditional moussaka recipe, made with lightly fried eggplants, minced meat and white sauce. Try it, don’t be intimidated by the recipe. Follow the steps and nothing can go wrong.


Wash the eggplants, and slice them rather thinly (about 1 millimeter.) Place them in a bowl with water where you have added about three T salt and leave them for 30 minutes. Strain them and squeeze them to remove excess water. This helps them to absorb less oil when fried as well as remove any bitterness.

In the meantime, add 2 – 3 tablespoonfuls of oil in a deep frying pan and brown the minced meat stirring and breaking up the lumps of meat until there is no pink colour. Add the onions and continue cooking for about 5 minutes longer at which point you add the garlic. Stir the mixture well and let it cook for a couple of minutes longer.

Add the wine to the pan and allow it to evaporate. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste diluted in a cup of water, the allspice and the parsley. Let the mixture boil for a few minutes and taste. Taste the sauce and if it is a bit sour, add the sugar or the ketchup. If it tastes all right, you needn’t add them. Turn the heat down and let the sauce simmer for about 15 minutes to reduce the liquid somewhat. However, the mixture must not be completely dry. There must be a certain amount of sauce, about two cups so that the moussaka is juicy. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add the oregano if used. Taste and adjust seasonings. Turn off the heat and leave aside.

Put enough oil to cover the bottom of a frying pan. Pat the eggplant slices dry and when the oil is hot you start frying them. When they brown on the one side you turn them over and when they brown on the other side as well, you remove them from the pan and place them on kitchen paper to absorb the extra oil. You can add more oil in the pan if needed as you go along, until you have fried all the eggplant slices.

At this stage, if you don’t have enough time to finish the dish, you may put the minced meat and the fried eggplants in separate containers and keep them in the fridge, finishing the recipe the next day. Or you may very well freeze them, and use them at a later date.

Béchamel (White) Sauce

Place the margarine in a pot and melt it at a low temperature. Do not boil. When it is melted, add the flour and stir continuously until the margarine has been absorbed. Warm up the milk and begin adding it a little at a time, beating well after each addition, so that there are no lumps. Take the pot off the heat. Beat the egg yolks (that you have separated from the whites) and add them to the mixture beating well. Add salt and pepper to taste.

The sauce shouldn’t be too thick or too runny. If it is too thick, add some milk or water. If too runny, you should let it simmer at very low heat for a bit longer stirring the mixture every now and then, so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. If you are in a hurry you can add some more flour, sprinkling it with a strainer so that you don’t get any lumps, and stir. Always taste to check the salt before assembling the moussaka.

Assembling the moussaka

Take a pan about 28 x 36 centimeters (11 x 14 inches). Spread a very thin layer of bread crumbs at the bottom. You could oil the pan with a brush, so the right amount of crumbs will stick there. Place the eggplant slices, the one next to the other until the crumbs are covered. Then spread the minced meat mixture over the eggplant. Sprinkle a couple of handfuls of grated cheese over the minced-meat. Now place the rest of the eggplant slices over the meat mixture, covering it completely. Again you can sprinkle a handful or two of grated cheese. And last, spread the béchamel sauce over the eggplant, and sprinkle grated cheese and some breadcrumbs on top.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 170oC (340o F) for about 50 minutes, until cooked through and the top is golden brown.

Take the pan out of the oven and let it rest and cool down for one hour more or less. Then you cut it in squares. This pan will give you 12 large squares.

Cook ahead and freezing tips

I've lived enough and consumed enough moussaka in my life to tell you Moussaka is a very freezer friendly recipe and this can be done at any stage.

  • Freeze your cooked eggplant: my mom's freezer is always stacked with batches of cooked eggplant so your freezer is your friend here. Pull them out when you want to make the Moussaka and let them thaw and proceed with the recipe.
  • Ground beef mixture can also be frozen in containers or bags. You can even freeze it in a vertical thin layer and just place it in the dish, no need for thawing.
  • Assemble the dish then freeze: I've done this several time with my pasta with bechamel sauce. Now here is a couple of things to note, first you can assemble the dish, bake, let it cool completely then freeze. Or you can assemble the dish, then freeze then finish baking later on the day you'll serve it. The latter produces a more fresh looking dish but both will be equally delicious. You can also assemble the dish and place in the fridge for up to 3 days in advance.

Kokkari’s Moussaka or Lamb and Eggplant Casserole Recipe

I’ve mentioned before that this time of shelter in place has really given me the courage to try some of the more challenging recipes from all the cookbooks I have.

Restaurant cookbooks are especially challenging because they come from professional chefs who are meticulous about details. I mean, they should be if they want perfect dishes that we’re paying big bucks for. But it also means a lot of steps when you’re trying to follow their recipes.

Kokkari is one of the food institutions in San Francisco, known as one of the best Greek restaurants in the Bay Area. I have yet to try it, but a friend gave me its cookbook a couple of years ago. (Note: While Kokkari has been closed since quarantine began in March, starting June 1 they’ll be open for takeout orders.) When I was flipping through the cookbook recently, I zeroed in on one of the most traditional Greek dish: moussaka.

Sliced the eggplant and salted it to get the moisture out.

For the recipe, you pre-cook the eggplant and slices of potatoes by roasting in the oven.

In the cookbook, Kokkari calls it “lamb and eggplant casserole with custard topping” because it is probably hard to describe moussaka. It’s reminds me of lasagna because of the layering technique, but the creamy cheesy bechamel top also can resemble a shepherd’s pie.

Some people might be surprised that I made moussaka because of the very fact that one of its key ingredients is EGGPLANT. I have not been shy about my disdain for eggplant, which I may have, though not proudly, may have called it the cardboard of vegetables. It just reminds me of thing and always has such a squishy texture that, again, reminds me of nothing. I realize everyone I know who likes eggplant often eat it deep fried, which is another thing I avoid, so yeah, double whammy.

But when I visited Greece in 2018, moussaka was one of the common dishes our tour guide ordered for our group dinners. It is a comfort dish, and during these times comfort dishes are a must.

When I made the recipe, it took a long time, mostly from all the prep work. The eggplant itself takes an hour of just extracting the moisture out and then cooking the bechamel and lamb filling. I also realized I didn’t have all spice, like the recipe called for, so I compensated by adding a mix of nutmeg and cloves.

Building the moussaka layers with potato, lamb filling, and eggplant.

My finished moussaka from the oven with the bechamel on top.

Since I’m sheltering in place alone, I also halved the recipe. Still, I made a good amount that lasted several nights for dinner. But because I halved the recipe, I didn’t really know about what baking dishes to use so I may have spread the ingredients around too much, making my moussaka a bit on the thin side and not as towering as it probably could have been.

There was a distinctive taste to it that I couldn’t put my finger on, and I think I may have added too much cinnamon. So to test it, I gave some to the biggest Greek I know, my friend Athan, and had him try it out. He gave it a thumbs up, so that was the biggest endorsement. (I thought about it later and realized the off taste I was trying to identify was probably the eggplant because I hardly eat it. I wonder if you can make moussaka with zucchini slices instead?)

The bechamel layer was my favorite part. The recipe teaches you to properly make a creamy, thick sauce that roasted up nicely in the oven.

So like I said, the recipe is a lot of steps, which also means I’m too lazy to retype everything here. Luckily for you, tmy neighborhood grocery store, Piedmont Grocers, actually shared the recipe so if you’re interested you can find the full recipe here. Enjoy!

You have to let the moussaka sit for at least 45 minutes so that you can slice into it. This first slice I did wasn’t the best. It works better overnight too when you eat it as leftovers.

Watch the video: Ο Στέφανος Τσιτσιπάς δοκίμασε το ρωσικό εμβόλιο Sputnik V


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