Moussaka Eggplant Recipe – Our flavorful twist on a classic Mediterranean dish with layers of seasoned roasted eggplant, scrumptious meat sauce, and creamy cheese sauce. Full of flavor hearty dinner that’s worth all the effort!
I’m always up for a cooking challenge, especially during this time when I have most of my time spent in my kitchen. And one thing that has been on top of my list is making my personal take on a classic Greek dish – Moussaka.
Just like any other recipe, moussaka has also different variations to it. I just hope my version here gets a nod from Greek Mamas out there, who also have their own version of this widely popular layered dish.
What is Moussaka?
Moussaka is an eggplant layered baked dish with seasoned tomato-based ground meat and topped with a milk-based sauce. Some versions would skip the topping, some would also use other variants of vegetables like zucchini, mushrooms and sliced potatoes. It may be time-consuming, I must say, but definitely worth all the trouble.
There are 3 main ingredients that make up for this dish – eggplant, ground meat, and milk-based sauce.
Traditionally eggplant slices are fried, but I prefer them baked. Your waist would thank you for that. But before it gets baked, you have to salt the eggplant first to extract excess liquid before you brush them with olive oil, garlic, and Italian seasoning mixture. Once again, this is just my personal take coz I love to have that flavors as well in the eggplant layer. Otherwise, you can go as simple as seasoning it with salt and pepper drizzled with a bit of olive oil. You’ll still be fine.
The traditional meat sauce for a Moussaka recipe is made with lamb, but then again, it’s equally as delicious with beef. So feel free to use beef or lamb. It this cooked in a tomato-based sauce with other spices like Cajun seasoning, paprika, garlic, onion, and allspice. Then I also added some leftover red wine that I used for my Braised Lamb Shanks for an added dimension of flavor. Feel free to swap it with beef broth, if you don’t have any.
Milk Cheese Sauce
Unlike the usual Bechamel sauce, this one here has an added parmesan cheese into the mix and also topped with grated parmesan. I also added an egg to help it set as it bakes or it will be all over the casserole dish.
Can You Make Moussaka In Advance?
Yes, you can! You can prepare the eggplant and meat sauce a day before for this beef moussaka, then store them in the fridge in an airtight container. On the day of serving, bring the ingredients to room temperature, prepare the cheese sauce and assemble them according to recipe instructions.
Can You Freeze Moussaka?
As for freezing, cook the dish as per recipe instructions. Then let it cool before covering it with a cling wrap and then with an aluminum foil and freeze. To reheat, thaw it and reheat at 350F for 20-25 minutes uncovered or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. If it’s browning too fast, tent it with aluminum foil.
What to Serve with Moussaka?
Moussaka, no matter how it is prepared, is already a heavy dish. You can serve it as it is or pair it with something light and acidic to cut out the richness. A green leafy salad would be a great choice, while this Rice Pilaf or this Homemade White Bread would satisfy for those who want a carb-loaded meal.
More Recipes Using Ground Beef
How To Make Moussaka
Eggplant Moussaka Layer
Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Place eggplant rounds on a paper towel and sprinkle with sea salt until the eggplant begins to “sweat”. This is the moisture being pulled out by the salt. Dry with paper towel when moisture has come out. About 10-15 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, minced garlic and Italian seasoning. Brush olive oil mixture onto eggplant rounds and bake on a wire rack until browned and tender. About 25-30 minutes. Reduce oven to 350°F(177°C).
Moussaka Meat Sauce
Cook ground beef in a large skillet until cooked through. Strain and remove ground beef. Reserve ground beef on another plate. In the same skillet, heat oil and add onion, garlic, Cajun seasoning, bay leaf, cinnamon, paprika, all spice and dried parsley. Stir and cook until onions are tender. Add tomato paste and stir.
Add red wine and simmer until sauce thickens. Then, add tomato sauce and mix well. Return ground beef to the pan and stir.
Moussaka Cheese Sauce
In a saucepan, heat butter and add flour. Mix until well combined. Add milk and whisk until smooth and there are no lumps. Whisk often until the sauce is the consistency of pudding. About 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add cheese.
Layering up Moussaka
- 2 eggplants , sliced into thin rounds
- 2 tablespoons (34g) sea salt
- ½ cup (125ml) olive oil
- 1 tablespoon (8g) minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon (5.5g) Italian seasoning
- Salt and pepper to taste
Moussaka Meat Sauce
- 1 lb (453.59g) ground beef or lamb , (I used beef)
- 1 tablespoon (14ml) oil
- 1 large onion , chopped
- 2 tablespoons (16g) garlic , minced
- 1 tablespoon (12g) Cajun seasoning
- 1 Bay leaf
- ½ teaspoon (1.3g) cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon (2g) paprika
- ½ teaspoon (1g) ground all spice
- 2 tablespoons (3.2g) dried parsley
- 2 tablespoons (32g) tomato paste
- ½ cup (117.5ml) red wine
- 1 8-oz can tomato sauce
Moussaka Cheese Sauce
- 3 tablespoons (42g) butter
- 3 tablespoons (30g) flour
- 4 cups (960ml) whole milk
- 1 cup (100g) grated parmesan
- 1 egg yolk
- Salt and white pepper to taste
- Fresh parsley for garnish
- Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).
- Place eggplant rounds on a paper towel and sprinkle with sea salt until the eggplant begins to “sweat”. This is the moisture being pulled out by the salt. Dry with paper towel when moisture has come out. About 10-15 minutes.
- In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, minced garlic and Italian seasoning. Brush olive oil mixture onto eggplant rounds and bake on a wire rack until browned and tender. About 25-30 minutes. Reduce oven to 350°F(177°C).
- Cook ground beef in a large skillet until cooked through. Strain and remove ground beef. Reserve ground beef on another plate.
- In the same skillet, heat oil and add onion, garlic, Cajun seasoning, bay leaf, cinnamon, paprika, all spice and dried parsley. Stir and cook until onions are tender.
- Add tomato paste and stir.
- Add red wine and simmer until sauce thickens.
- Add tomato sauce and mix well. Return ground beef to the pan and stir.
- In a saucepan, heat butter and add flour. Mix until well combined.
- Add milk and whisk until smooth and there are no lumps. Whisk often until the sauce is the consistency of pudding. About 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and add cheese.
- Whisk in egg yolk and whisk constantly until golden yellow. Season with salt and white pepper.
- Layer an 8x8 baking dish (double recipe for 9x13 baking dish) with single layer of roasted eggplant. Follow with meat sauce. Add another layer of eggplant and another layer of meat sauce. Top with milk mixture and sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese. Bake at 350°F for 30-45 minutes until browned and sides are bubbling. Garnish with fresh parsley.
Tips & Notes:
- Serve warm or eat out of the fridge as breakfast. Moussaka is delicious served warm or cold!
- Please keep in mind that nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary greatly based on products used.