Mediterranean Moussaka

November 3, 2017

A while ago in Australia, we encountered a few cold nights. It was the end of the summer, but still got to 6°C. Kinda cold right? Definitely time for comfort food, and a nice little fire. We passed on the fire and got MOUSSAKA instead. Hell, yeah!

Basically I bought loads of eggplants. For the third week in a row. After a lot of baba ghanoush, I asked one of the chef where I was working -The Brewhouse Margaret River- what I should do with all these eggplants. He suggested moussaka… I literally had no idea what that was. He explained a bit, but I was still in no where lands.

I did my research on the Internets, and it looked so delicious! It takes origin in the Eastern Mediterranean countries, and is now one of the best known dish in Greece. It’s basically layers of potatoes, meat sauce, aubergines and sometimes a milk-based top layer.

I found many varieties of moussaka recipe on Pinterest. I decided to go for this Eggplant Moussaka with Chickpea Bechamel from Allyson, who write the inspiring Reclaiming Yesterday blog. I made it during that cold night I was talking about earlier, and it comforted my whole body down to my soul. It was so full of intricated flavors, and all the layers create a dozen different textures that come to life with each bite. All I could think of, as a comparison, is Greek Lasagna. Like the lasagna, it has a meat and tomato sauce, and abounds in delicious vegetables. Plus, the moussaka gives you room for several variations.

On the plus side, my better half get extremely excited when I mention cooking it. He can’t get enough!

Undoubtedly, I had to use this recipe again when I bought eggplant last week. It’s a bit of a bummer that the eggplant price was so high all winter, we are talking about 6-7$ each. But this kind of comfort food as no season to me, it’s indeed like lasagna. It’s good in the cold seasons but even better with a fresh salad when it’s hot. And that’s what I did, a light spinach salad en accompagnement.

Let’s tweak…

Like always, there is a few things I changed from the original recipe. The first time I did it, I did not put zucchinis and went for only eggplants. Plus I did the béchamel differently. Instead of mixing Parmesan in, I added feta, and choose organic coconut milk to go with it. It turned out incredible, but the top layer did not turned crispy on the outside because of the cheese replacement. I superseded that downside with a layer of crumbled feta on top. Broil it for a few minutes at the end of the baking time, and got a good crispy top. Mission accomplished. This was a hell of a good dinner.

Last week, I thought I would try it with zucchinis, and see if we can reach a new level of greatness. Not happening. The zucchinis were 19$/kg. WHAT!? How is that even possible? So, it was another go at the all eggplant moussaka. I still went for feta in the béchamel and on top, but went for standard cow milk as coconut milk is also super pricey. Not much change from my first attempt, and the taste was still incredible.

This recipe has now entered our Pantheon of Comfort Food. I will be doing this for many years to come. Like Lasagna 😉

Try this recipe to include some change in your week nigh meals. Tell me your thoughts in the comment section below!

À plus,

ZCM

Print Recipe
Mediterranean Moussaka
This recipe is perfect to cook on a "Prepping Sunday", freeze and take out the morning you need it. It's even better then bake straight away as the flavors have time to mingle together.
Prep Time 30 Minutes
Cook Time 45 Minutes
Servings
Servings
Ingredients
Chickpea Béchamel
Topping
Prep Time 30 Minutes
Cook Time 45 Minutes
Servings
Servings
Ingredients
Chickpea Béchamel
Topping
Instructions
Base
  1. Preheat the oven to 375F/ 180C/ Gas Mark 4, and line 2 baking tray with baking paper. Set aside.
  2. Bring a pot of water to boil and had the potatoes in as they are (skins on and whole). Be sure the water covers the potatoes completely and cover with a lid. Boil them until a for can pierce to the center, drain them and let cool. When you can handle them, remove the skin and slice in 1 cm large slices. Set aside
  3. Slice eggplants length wise and put in a single layer on the pre-lined baking trays. Brush each sides with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pop trays in the oven and bake for 25 minutes.
  4. Chop the onion finely, heat a large pan with olive oil and add the onions with some salt. Sauté the onions until theey become translucent and fragrant. Add the oregano, nutmeg and cinnamon, and cook for 30-60 seconds before adding the ground beef. When the beef begins to brown add the tomato paste, honey, water or stock, salt and pepper. Cover the pan and let cook for 10 minutes.
Béchamel Sauce
  1. To a medium sauce pan, add all the Béchamel sauce ingredients over medium heat. When you reach a boil, reduce the heat and let simmer for 5 minutes. Turn of the heat, and carefully use a hand blender (see note 1) to obtain a smooth texture. Set aside.
Assembling and Baking
  1. In a large baking pan or casserol dish, start assembling the moussaka by laying the potatoes all over the bottom. Sprinkle salt on top. Add a layer of eggplants over followed with the beef mix, repeat until you have no more of each (I have to repeat twice, but you might have to repeat more depending on you dish size). Once, you are done, spread the béchamel across the top.
  2. Liberally sprinkle the crumbled feta on top of the béchamel and dust with the dried oregano.
  3. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes, remove the foil and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until the feta is gold and crispy. Let rest for 20 minutes prior to serving. (see note 2 for serving later)
Recipe Notes

1- If you don't have a hand blender, simply transfer the mixture to a food processor or blender to get a smooth mix. Make sure to be careful as a hot mix in a close space creates pressure while being mix and might explode.

2- If you want to eat it in the near future (but not tomorrow), keep the dried oregano on top for baking day and cover with cling wrap to keep in the freezer for up to three months. The night before you intend to have the moussaka for dinner, thaw it overnight. You can thaw the entire moussaka or some portion in the refrigerator overnight. Once it is totally defrosted, remove the clear wrap, dust the dried oregano on top and cover with aluminium wrap. Proceed with the baking instructions from above.

*Make sure none of your ingredients have been frozen if you plan to freeze the moussaka, as it is not good for food or hygiene safety!

Sources here.

By Lea Tess

Right after graduating from a Arts & Science Bachelor in 2015, I took the first plane to China with my partner. Since then, we have visited many countries, lived in Australia and, currently, in New Zealand. I am passionate about food and making memories!

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