Greek Eggplant and Zucchini Moussaka Recipe

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A delicious variation of the traditional greek moussaka. The Eggplant and zucchini layers alternate with a smooth herbed tomato and mince sauce and lastly topped with a creamy bechamel sauce.

This is an authentic recipe, because moussaka needs to have some key ingredients in order to be called ‘moussaka’.  That is, eggplant, a rich and flavoursome beef sauce and finally a generous topping of white béchamel sauce.



This version, isn’t oily and heavy, and is richly flavoured with copious amounts of the right combination of herbs. Moussaka is traditionally made with eggplant alone and without the zucchini. You can always choose to use only eggplant if you wish to or use slices of potato or zucchini for some of the layers.



How to prepare eggplant for moussaka

This recipe will show you how to prepare eggplant for moussaka. Traditional moussaka requires for the eggplant slices to be fried before incorporating into the layers. In this recipe, the vegetables are grilled and not fried. For years, I was told if you want your moussaka to be flavourful, you need to be prepared to fry the eggplant batches, pat dry and then incorporate into your layers. I’ll say it bluntly, this is not the case. The taste is all in the sauce layers. A great tomato lamb or beef sauce needs the right herbs and spices and time to simmer for the flavour to set. Don’t rush to put all the layers together in the dish.

Traditionalists also choose to soak the eggplant in a salty bath, rinse and strain. You can do this if you believe your eggplant to be bitter, but in all honesty have not really come across one. The bitterness comes only if you have fried the eggplant.

moussaka with eggplant zucchini recipe μουσακας
beef moussaka with eggplant zucchini recipe

Grilled zucchini is surprisingly sweet and adds a nice balance to the eggplant. Certainly worth trying out cooked this way before deciding to omit. Zucchini and eggplant have a certain stigma in Australia. If your not sure what to do with them, turn to Greek cuisine for inspiration. This dish is absolutely heavenly and brings much happiness to family gatherings. In fact, when greek families come together with extended family members like Aunts and Uncles with their families, pastitsio and moussaka are always included as part of the feast.

Moussaka is also a great way to disguise vegetables or to slowly bring children to become accustomed to the vegetables.




Tips
  • Always use fresh herbs never the dry packet variety. Please trust me on this.
  • In the ingredients you will notice fresh sun-ripened tomatoes. The deep fragrance, flavour and texture of properly sunripened summer and early autumn fruit is so worth it.
  • To reproduce that full flavour of Mediterranean tomatoes, place them on your window-sill somewhere where your tomatoes will catch the morning bright sunlight – by all means don’t allow them to cook in the sun. Leave for a morning or afternoon and the most magical thing happens: your tomatoes become vibrant red and the flavour is equally luscious. As you can imagine this impacts on the colour and taste of your sauce.

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Yield: 18-20 pieces

Authentic Moussaka with Beef, Eggplant and Zucchini layers

Luscious Layers of herbed been mince ( or lamb ) are cooked in a tomato based sauce, then layered with grilled vegetables, such as eggplant and zucchini. It is finally topped with creamy béchamel sauce sprinkled with spices and baked to perfection.If you would like to make this Greek Classic and well known dish, this recipe will show you how. It is also a healthier version, with less oil and fats without compromising on that classic Greek moussaka taste.

Ingredients

Beef Sauce and Vegetable Layers

  • 3 medium sized eggplants
  • 2 zucchinis
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 healthy full bunch fresh parsley
  • 1 bunch fresh basil, stems removed
  • 2 large fresh tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 250g passata or ( tined diced tomato with Pulp)
  • 1 kilo lean beef mince ( or lamb mince )
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3- 6 tablespoons pure olive oil
  • Olive oil for spraying

Bechamel sauce

  • 3 cups milk warmed
  • 1/4 of a cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 of a cup parmigiana
  • 1/4 cup mozarella
  • 50 grams butter
  • 3 heaped tablespoons flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 pinch allspice

Instructions

Cut the tomatoes and add into a food processor Blitz until smooth.

Chop finely the onion and garlic.

Slice the zucchini and eggplant into 1 centimetre thick pieces.

Line the baking dish with foil.

To use the least amount of olive oil spray both surfaces of the vegetables and place using a slightly overlapping placement onto the dish.

Set the oven on grill setting. Grill both sides of your vegetables until browned. The vegetables should have a healthy golden glow - if they are grilled for too long and are scorched the flavour of the moussaka will be affected.

In a large saucepan add the olive oil. Turn stovetop on high and add your mince. Brown the mince and stir continuously, break up any pieces of mince that have clumped together. Use a potato masher to break the clumps of mince.

Add the finely chopped onions and garlic, stir through the tomato paste. Allow to cook for couple of minutes then pour the passata and fresh tomato juice.

Stir intermittently, add water, spice and herbs. Simmer for at least 40 minutes on medium to high heat with the lid partially on, to minimise the water evaporating too much. Allow juice to reduce until it is creamy and thick. If the juices have evaporated too much, add a little more water and continue simmering.

Remove cinnamon stick.

The baking dish should be at least 25 cm deep and 30cm long, with vertical sides for nice sectional pieces when cut.

Bechamel Sauce

Start with melting butter in a medium sized saucepan on low heat. Add the flour and mix until both are well incorporated into each other, and the butter has fully melted.

Slowly add one quarter of milk, stir continuously - preferably with a whisk, until you feel the sauce thickening slightly. Add a little more milk, stir, let it thicken a little and add your final amount of milk. Keep on stirring and adjust the heat if you feel it's cooking too fast and 'catching' on the bottom of saucepan. Continue stirring as the sauce thickens. Add ricotta, parmesan and mozarella. Whisk while the cheese melts into sauce. Turn heat off.

Add the egg into the sauce and whisk through. Allow sauce to cool down. Cover. Whisk just prior to assembling the layers, to dissolve the film that has formed on top.

You can omit the mozarella cheese and substitute with your own, but I do find the mozarella gives the white sauce a lovely colour when baked.

Merging layers

You can use a traditional deep baking dish to assemble the moussaka.

Spray bottom layer with olive oil, add eggplant.

assembling the moussaka layers

The first bottom layer will be a row of aubergine or zucchini. With a ladle add mince sauce ensuring you have equal portion of sauce and mince. The mince layers should be 1-2cm deep. Add the basil leaves scattered evenly over the mince.

beef moussaka μουσακας

Add a layer of eggplant or zucchini , then another layer of mince, finish off with a layer of the grilled vegetables.

Pour sauce over top. It should. Be a nice thick layer. Sprinkle nutmeg and allspice or cinnamon and a little reserved parmesan.

classic greek moussaka μουσακας

Cook on 180 degree Celsius oven for 50 mins approximately. The dish should be in the middle of the oven. Allow sides of sauce to cook crispy and top to be a little darker than golden. Turn oven off, allow dish to cool for 30 mins before cutting into serving sized pieces. The moussaka needs this time for the ingredients to set. Allowing to cool down a little before cutting each serving piece will ensure the layers do not fall apart when serving.

This makes 18-20 healthy sized pieces.

traditional moussaka

Notes

Moussaka is always eaten warm or at room temperature in summer.

You can also use mini springform cake tins - to be a little bit different, and lined with baking paper. Lining the mini springform cake tins help with removal of the moussaka.

If you would like to freeze this dish, allow to fully cool, store in an airtight container and keep in the fridge for up to 1 month. Defrost in the fridge between 8-24 hours depending on the size of your moussaka then cook at 180 Degrees Celsius until it is hot throughout.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

20

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 268 Total Fat: 15g Saturated Fat: 5g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 8g Cholesterol: 74mg Sodium: 181mg Carbohydrates: 13g Fiber: 3g Sugar: 4g Protein: 21g
Olives&Feta do not have control over the ingredients you use to make this recipe nor the environment in which you are making them. When Brands of ingredients are specified please check the brand as companies do change their products. Always read the label.
 




 

Enjoy.

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Average rating:  
 4 reviews
by Dezi on olivesandfeta

Thank you for the recipe. This was a practice run will now make another batch in time for Easter.

by Patty on olivesandfeta

Your moussaka looks scrumptious Marina, I can’t wait to try your recipe, thanks for sharing!

by Renaki on olivesandfeta

Bravo! What a beautiful bake.

by Liza's kitchen on olivesandfeta

Wow! You have made moussaka so special here. Your tips are certainly helpful. Ill be using some of these tips next time

8 Comments Add yours

  1. kmuccigrosso says:

    Amazing!!!❤️

  2. I love how you made this Marina mou!

    1. Hello there, thank you so much especially coming from you. 🙂

      1. Hi sweets! Of course I love your content. 🙂

  3. juliarecipes says:

    I am loving this zucchini and eggplant moussaka, and the single portions are brilliant idea!

    1. We are all so used to serving it in a big dish making large portions … It’s nice to make Moussaka into managable serving sizes.

  4. CarolCooks2 says:

    Very nice sounding recipe with some good tips ..I look forward to reading and trying some of your recipes…Thank you for the follow 🙂

    1. No worries Carol. im glad you found the recipe useful.

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