Moussakas, is the most famous Greek dish which is layered with sautéed slices of potatoes and eggplants, with the meat sauce in the middle layer and topped with béchamel sauce and myzithra cheese.
The vegetables are fried in extra virgin olive oil and left in a colander or on kitchen paper to drain any excess oil. A layer of vegetables is placed in a baking tin, then the meat sauce with ground pork or veal is added in the middle, then another layer of potatoes and eggplants and finally it is topped with a bechamel sauce. It is then baked in the oven until golden.
This is the traditional way of making moussakas but if you want a lighter version of moussakas instead of frying the potatoes and eggplants you can brush them with olive oil and bake them in the oven or cook them on a non stick sauteing pan.
The Cypriot version of moussakas lies in the meat sauce and the spices used in it and of course local Cypriot cheese is used in the bechamel which would be either anari or halloumi. Apart from adding halloumi, I always sprinkle some cinnamon on top. Nothing beats that!! Believe me it not only smells amazing but that touch of cinnamon makes it heavenly.
A quite rich dish but so delicious!!
Traditional Greek Moussakas
- 5 – 6 medium eggplants, cut into thin slices, lengthwise
- 4 big potatoes, peeled and cut into thin slices, lengthwise
- ¼ cup olive oil for sautéing or grilling the vegetables
- 2 tbsp grated graviera or halloumi to sprinkle on top
- Cinnamon to sprinkle on top
For the meat sauce:
- 500 grams (1.10 lbs) lean ground veal
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Salt and black pepper
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 2 cups grated ripe tomatoes
- 1 cup parsley finely chopped
1 dose Béchamel Cream
- Cut the potatoes into ½ cm thick slices and eggplants into 1 cm thick slices.
- Fry vegetables starting with the potatoes and then the eggplants or brush all vegetables with olive oil and place them on a baking tin and grill them on both sides. You may have to do this in two batches.
- Heat the olive oil in a sautéing pan and sauté the onion until translucent. Add the ground meat and sauté for a few minutes. While mixing, add salt, pepper, cinnamon and tomatoes and cook over moderate heat for about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and mix in parsley.
- Prepare the Béchamel sauce.
- Place a layer of half the vegetables, in a baking tin (35 x 30 cm – 13.8 x 11.8 inches) and season with salt. Add the meat sauce on top of the vegetables, then the remaining vegetables, season with salt and top with béchamel.
- Add the reserved grated cheese and sprinkle some cinnamon on top.
Bake in a preheated oven to 180o C /350o F for about 45 – 60 minutes or until golden on top.
This and many more recipes are included in my cookbook Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste as well as in Volume 1 of my e-cookbook, sold on all Amazon stores.
Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,