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Moussaka (Eggplant and Lamb Casserole)

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This is a classic Greek and Turkish casserole that combines two of the eastern Mediterranean's most popular ingredients: lamb and eggplant. Although many moussaka recipes use a thicker and more floury cream sauce, in this recipe, the ricotta acts as a stabilizer, so the top custard does not need to be so rich. You can use olive oil in place of butter for sauteing the ingredients for the meat sauce. Some Turkish versions add potato slices to the dish, frying the potatoes when the eggplant is fried. Moussaka can be prepared a day ahead and refrigerated and then baked just before serving.

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Ingredients

  • For the meat sauce:
  • 2 or 3 eggplants, about 2 pounds.
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 pound of ground lamb
  • 1 cup (8 oz) tomato puree or 2-3 fresh, large tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 4 tablespoons parsley
  • salt and pepper
  • For the cream sauce:
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1/3 cup grated kasseri or parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup dried bread crumbs, finely crumbled

Details

Servings 8

Preparation

Step 1

Peel eggplants completely, cut into slices 1/3 inch thick, sprinkle with salt and set aside in a large colander for 1-2 hours. Pat the slices dry with paper towels and squeeze out any excess moisture.

Brush eggplant slices lightly with oil, sprinkle them with pepper, and bake them at 400 degrees until golden on both sides, about 10-15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375

To make meat sauce, saute butter, onions, garic till translucent. Add lamb, and saute till brown. Add cinnamon, oregano, tomato puree (or tomatoes), tomato paste and wine; simmer till most liquid is absorbed. Add parsley, salt and pepper.

To make cream sauce, warm milk in small saucepan and melt butter in large sauce pan. In large saucepan, stir flour in, then after 2-3 minutes, stir in hot milk. Let mixture come to boil, then remove from heat. Stir in nutmeg, salt, pepper. Beat in eggs and ricotta.

In bowl, combine grated cheese and bread crumbs. Lightly oil 4 quart oven proof casserole. Sprinkle bottom with some of bread crumb and cheese mixture. Arrange 1/3 eggplant slices in a layer on top. Pour over 1/2 the meat sauce. Sprinkle evenly with remaining crumb and cheese sauce. Layer another 1/3d of eggplant slices. Cover with remaining meat sauce. Cover with last 1/3 of eggplant slices. Pour cream sauce over everything.

Bake till golden with top set but quivery. 45-60 minutes. If top browns too quickly, cover w/ foil.

Let cool for 15 minutes, cut into squares to serve.

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