Cosy & comforting Moussaka
Welcome to my delightful moussaka recipe! If you're looking for a comforting and flavoursome dish that will transport your taste buds straight to the Mediterranean, you've come to the right place. Moussaka is a classic Greek dish that combines layers of tender eggplant, savoury meat sauce, and a creamy, golden bechamel topping. It's a true crowd-pleaser that brings warmth and joy to the table.
For the base layers:
- Oil (preferably olive oil)
- 2 large eggplants, sliced 1-1.5cm thick
- 4 medium potatoes, sliced 1-1.5cm thick
- 3 tbsp oil
- 450g ground beef
- 1 red pepper, chopped ( or 1 red onion)
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 150ml of red wine ( I used Pinot Noir)
- 700g bottle of tomato passata
- 1-2 tablespoon tomato puree
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cinnamon stick ( I used cassia bark cinnamon)
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the bechamel sauce:
- 120g unsalted butter
- 120g plain flour
- 1L milk
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 100g grated Parmesan cheese ( traditionally it would be Kefalotyri, but the shop did not have it)
For the topping:
- 50g grated Parmesan cheese
- Preheat your oven to 200°C (gas mark 6 for my oven)
- Salt and drizzle oil on the eggplant and potatoes (both sides), then place in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until cooked through.
- Heat 3 tbsp of oil in a large skillet over medium heat, then add the peppers. Cook for 1-2 minutes before adding garlic and cooking for another 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
- In the same skillet, add the ground beef and break it apart. Season with salt and pepper, add the bay leaves and cinnamon stick. Cook until browned (about 7 minutes) stirring occasionally.
- Add the wine and tomato puree. Reduce the wine and add the tomato passata. Simmer on low for 20 minutes with the lid on stirring occasionally.
- While the meat sauce simmers, prepare the bechamel sauce. Melt the butter in a pot over medium heat, careful not to burn it. Add the flour, whisk constantly and cook for 2 minutes, it will smell of cooked flour.
- Gradually pour in the milk, whisking constantly to prevent lumps from forming. Cook the sauce until smooth.
- When it starts to simmer add the cheese and nutmeg, and mix to incorporate.
- Turn the heat off and season with salt and pepper. If you still have time before assembling the moussaka, mix the bechamel every few minutes so no skin forms.
- To assemble the moussaka, layer the potatoes at the bottom of a greased baking dish followed by the eggplant. Spread the meat sauce evenly over the eggplant layer and pour the bechamel sauce over the top, spreading it out to cover the surface. Sprinkle the grated Parmesan cheese.
- Bake the moussaka at 190 (gas mark 5) for about 30-35 minutes. Afterwards I used the top oven grill function for a few minutes to brown the top layer of cheese.
- Remove the moussaka from the oven and let it cool for up to 30 minutes before serving.
Moussaka is traditionally served warm or at room temperature. It pairs well with a fresh salad and some crusty bread. Enjoy!
Watch the video to see Andrei cooking this recipe: