Sometimes known as mousakas, musaka or musakka, this dish of eggplants and meat is found in Turkey, Hungary, the Balkans and across the Eastern Mediterranean. The baked version with the white sauce topping appears to be Greek in origin.
Personally, I would describe it as something like lasagna except that instead of layers of pasta, we have layers of thinly sliced eggplants sautéed in olive oil. It’s delicious, really, especially when served with bread to mop up the tomato sauce and the white cheesy topping.
So, this is an updated recipe. With new photos and a video too.
There are three components of this dish.
The eggplants have to be sliced and partially cooked. We prefer to bake the eggplants instead of frying.
The beef is cooked with onions, tomatoes, garlic and oregano. Adding tomato sauce is optional for us although plenty of cooks do add tomato sauce for more tartness and color.
Then, there’s the Bechamel sauce which should be thick but never lumpy.
For best results, remember that each component of the moussaka must be sufficiently seasoned. If, however, you plan to use plenty of Parmesan, you may want to underseason the Bechamel sauce because Parmesan is quite salty.
Moussaka (baked eggplants and beef with bechamel sauce)Print Pin
For the eggplant layer
- 3 large eggplants
- olive oil
For the meat layer
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups diced eggplants
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 500 grams ground beef
For the Bechamel sauce
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ cups full cream milk
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
To complete the dish
- olive oil
- 1/4 cup Parmesan (you may always add more)
Prepare the eggplants
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Line a baking tray with non-stick paper.
- Rinse the eggplants and pat dry.
- Cut off and discard the tops of the eggplants; cut the eggplants into 1/4-inch thick slices.
- In a bowl, toss the eggplant slices with about a tablespoon of olive oil.
- Arrange the eggplant slices in a single layer in the prepared tray. Drizzle with more olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Bake the eggplants at 350F for 15 minutes or until softened but only partially done. Remove from the oven and cool (see notes after the recipe).
Cook the beef
- Heat two tablespoons olive oil in a frying pan.
- Saute the onion and tomatoes with salt and pepper until softened.
- Add the garlic and oregano, and cook for a minute.
- Add the ground beef. Sprinkle in more salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the mixture is quite dry.
Make the Bechamel sauce
- Melt the butter in a pan.
- Add the flour and stir until smooth. Cook, stirring often, for about five minutes.
- Pour in half cup of milk. Stir until smooth and thick.
- Add another half cup of milk. Again cook, stirring, until smooth and thick.
- Repeat until all the milk has been added. You want the sauce to be thick but not lumpy.
- Off the heat, season the sauce with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
Assemble the dish and bake
- Drizzle olive oil all over the bottom of a baking dish.
- Arrange half of the eggplant slices on the bottom.
- Cover the eggplants with half of the meat.
- Top the meat with half of the Bechamel sauce.
- Sprinkle half of the Parmesan on the Bechamel sauce.
- Repeat the layers.
- Bake the moussaka at 375F.
- Cool the moussaka for about 15 minutes before slicing and serving.