An authentic, delicious recipe for Eggplant Moussaka- with a Tomato lamb sauce, and creamy béchamel sauce. Vegetarian Adaptable! Can be made ahead and baked prior to serving. See notes for VEGAN.
Tomato Meat Sauce:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, rough chopped
- 2 lbs ground lamb, beef (or use vegetarian ground meat substitute -Gimme Lean or St Ives Meatless Ground.) I prefer lamb.
- 1 ½ cups diced tomatoes, with juices (or 14-ounce can, with juices)
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- ½ cup white wine (optional, sub 1/4 cup water)
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 3/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cracked pepper
- 2–3 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
- 3 tablespoons butter or olive oil
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups milk
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg (use fresh grated if possible)
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/8 tsp pepper or white pepper
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, Pecorino or Kefalotiri Cheese ( plus an additional 1/4 cup for the top-optional)
- 1 egg, room temp, lightly beaten
- Pre-heat oven to 400 F. Cut eggplant into ⅓- ¼ inch thick disks (no thinner), sprinkle with a little kosher salt and let sit in a colander or bowl for 20-60 minutes. Eggplant will start to release liquid (making it less bitter)
- Rinse well, pat dry and brush each side with olive oil (or use spray oil).
- Place on a greased sheet pan and roast in a 400 F oven until golden, about 20-30 minutes. Alternatively, you can grill the eggplant on each side ( getting nice deep grill marks) then wrapping it in foil after for 10-15 minutes, so it steams and cooks through.
- While eggplant is roasting -make the tomato- meat sauce: In a large pan, saute diced onion in oil on med-high heat for 3-4 minutes, add garlic, turn heat down to med-low and saute for 8-10 minutes until onions are tender. Add the ground lamb ( or beef or vegetarian meat), turn heat up to medium and brown, stirring often, about 15 minutes. Drain fat if any. Add the rest of the ingredients -diced tomatoes, tomato paste, white wine, fresh chopped parsley, sugar, cinnamon, kosher salt and pepper. Stir and cover and let simmer on med-low heat for 20 minutes.
- Make Bechamel Sauce: In a small pot, heat the butter. Whisk in the flour and let cook for 2-3 minutes on med heat, stirring often. Whisk in the first cup of milk a little at a time. Whisk well, and add the 2nd cup. Stirring constantly bring to a boil, lower heat, and let simmer on low for an additional 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add nutmeg, cheese, salt, pepper. Set aside to cool. In a separate bowl, lightly beat an egg, but do not add it just yet.
- Assemble: Divide eggplant slices into three stacks, reserving the best looking largest pieces for the top and bottom layers. The others can be placed in the middle layer which will be concealed.
- In a greased 8x 13 inch baking dish, place one layer of eggplant. Add half the meat sauce. Add another layer of eggplant and the remaining meat sauce. Add the third and final layer of eggplant. Whisk in 2-3 tablespoons of bechamel sauce, into the beaten egg (to temper it) then pour this into the bechamel sauce, whisking until nice and smooth. Spread the bechamel over the final eggplant layer.
- Sprinkle with the remaining cheese ( optional) and place in a 350F oven for 50-60 minutes, uncovered until beautifully golden. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
- Notes: You can make this ahead and refrigerate for a couple days before baking. You can also freeze this after baking.
- An easy way to approach this is to make this in stages. For example, roast or grill the eggplant a couple days ahead, make the meat sauce the next day, make the béchamel the last day and assemble the day of baking.
- My personal preferences here are to grill the eggplant if possible and to use ground lamb (or a mix of beef and lamb). Soooo good!
- VEGAN: You could make this vegan by using vegetarian meat – then olive oil, nut milk and vegan cheese in the bechamel. It can be done. Just make sure both the red sauce and white sauce are flavorful, tasting and seasoning 🙂
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