Greek Cypriot-Inspired Moussaka (Eggplant “Lasagna”) Recipe

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Greek Cypriot Moussaka

Moussaka is one of the most celebrated and iconic foods in many Middle Eastern, Eastern Mediterranean, and Balkan cuisines.

Countries in these regions have different delicious takes on this iconic dish. Our recipe is inspired by the Greek and Cypriot moussakas.

What is Moussaka?

Moussaka is classed as a casserole, and, traditionally, eggplant and minced meat have been the two key ingredients in this rich and delicious food.

The dish, however, gained global popularity after Greek chef Nikolaos Tselementes, who trained in France, topped moussaka with a layer of bechamel sauce.

That recipe is considered the modern Greek recipe. It is rich, succulent, and incredibly flavorful.

We love to serve it with pita bread and talatouri or tzatziki sauce on the side. And for dessert, check out our Greek-Cypriot baklava recipe; it’s divine.

Greek-Cypriot Moussaka Ingredients

Our moussaka consists of three main parts: the roasted eggplant layers, the beef or lamb filling, and a delicious Greek béchamel sauce.

To get started, first, assemble all the ingredients. You will need the following:

Moussaka Aubergine and Meat Filling Ingredients

Eggplant/Aubergine Layers

  • Eggplants/aubergines (3 large or 4 medium)
  • Salt (1 tablespoon)
  • Olive oil (2 tablespoons)

Filling:

  • Ground beef or lamb (1.15 lb or 500 grams)
  • Canned crushed tomatoes (one can of about 14.5 oz or 400 grams)
  • Dry red wine (1/2 cup or about 125 ml)
  • Tomato paste (3 tablespoons)
  • Onion (1 medium-sized onion, diced)
  • Beef bouillon/stock cube (1 cube or 1 tablespoon of beef stock powder)
  • Olive oil (2 tablespoons)
  • Salt (1 tablespoon)
  • Garlic (2 medium-sized cloves, minced)
  • Sugar (1.5 tablespoons)
  • Dry oregano (2 tablespoons)
  • Cinnamon (1 tablespoon)
Moussaka Béchamel Sauce Ingredients

Greek Béchamel Sauce:

  • Semi-skimmed milk (21 oz or about 625ml)
  • Plain flour (5 tablespoons)
  • Parmesan or Kefalotiri cheese (3.5 oz or 100 grams)
  • Eggs (2 yolks)
  • Butter (4 tablespoons)
  • Black or white pepper (1/4 tablespoon)
  • Nutmeg (a pinch, optional)

Greek-Cypriot Moussaka Step-By-Step Photos & Instructions:

Now that we have all the ingredients, let’s get to cooking. To make the moussaka, we will need to roast the eggplant layers, make the meat filling that will go in between two eggplant layers, and make the Greek bechamel sauce that will top it all off. It will then bake in the oven for about 45 minutes.

Moussaka Eggplant/Aubergine Layers

First, we will need to cut the eggplants in approx. 1/2 inch or 1 cm-thick slices and place them in a large container. Then, we’ll sprinkle them with 1-2 tablespoons of salt, and leave them aside for roughly half an hour.

This is called “sweating the eggplants.” It helps cut down on any bitterness the eggplants may have, and it tenderizes the texture of the flesh.

While the eggplants are sweating, we can make the meat filling and the béchamel sauce.

Eggplant slices “sweating”

After 30 minutes, pat the eggplant slices dry with a paper towel. Place them on a baking tray, and brush them with olive oil. You will likely need to use two trays to fit all of the slices.

Eggplant slices ready to go in the oven

Preheat your oven to 460° F or 240 °C. Bake the eggplant slices in the oven for roughly 15 minutes. Afterward, pull them out of the oven and let them cool.

While the original Greek recipes call for the eggplant to be fried, more and more people are using baked/roasted eggplant instead. Plus, it’s healthier!

Roasted Eggplant Slices

Moussaka Meat Filling

Meat Filling for the Mousakka

We can make this meat filling while the eggplant slices are “sweating.”

First, dice the onions and mince the garlic. Next, in a pan over medium heat, add one tablespoon of olive oil and the diced onion, and cook for about 2 minutes. Then, add the minced garlic, and cook for one more minute.

Add the ground beef or lamb and stir periodically, until the meat is cooked and no longer pink.

Following this, add the wine and cook for about 10 minutes or until you can no longer smell the alcohol.

Finally, add the canned tomatoes, the tomato puree, beef stock cube, sugar, oregano, cinnamon, and salt. Cook over low-medium heat until most of the juices have evaporated, about 10-15 minutes.

Greek Béchamel sauce

Béchamel sauce

Now, let’s proceed to the Béchamel sauce, shall we?

Warm up the milk on the stove or in the microwave.

Next, in a pan over medium heat, melt the butter and add the flour, stirring quickly to form a well-blended paste (or “roux”). This should all take about 2 minutes. Don’t let the butter brown!

After the mixture blends nicely, start adding the milk, very slowly, while whisking to incorporate it into the mixture. Keep whisking the mixture until you bring it to a boil. Lower the heat, stirring it for 2-3 more minutes over low heat.

After the mixture thickens, remove from fire and add the cheese, pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg (optional). Allow it to rest for a few minutes, and then add the egg yolks and quickly incorporate them into the sauce.

*Note:* While the classic Bechamel sauce does not include cheese or eggs, the Greek version of it does. The yolks give it the yellowish color you may be accustomed to seeing topping the traditional moussaka.

Moussaka Assembly

Moussaka Assembly Process

Set your oven temperature to 350°F or 175°C while assembling the moussaka so that it’s ready to go into the oven as soon as you’re done assembling it.

Layer out half of the eggplant slices on the baking dish.

On top of the eggplant slices, place the meat filling.

Add the remaining half of the eggplant slices.

And finally, top with the Béchamel sauce.

Bake for approximately 45 minutes, checking on it occasionally.

Once baked, the bechamel forms a beautiful golden coating over the top of the moussaka mixture.

Allow it to rest and cool down for about 15 minutes, until it’s warm to touch. Now, it’s ready to serve. Kalí órexi!

Once you cut in, you’re treated to a beautiful spectacle of tender minced meat, dark juices, and golden brown bechamel.

Each mouthful gives you a sumptuous combination of baked, fluffy bechamel, juicy beef or lamb, and rich eggplant. It truly is divine.

This recipe will give you plenty of moussaka to enjoy. You can easily feed a family of four, and still have leftovers.

Greek-Cypriot Moussaka Recipe

Greek-Cypriot Eggplant Moussaka

Greek-Cypriot Eggplant Moussaka

Ingredients

Eggplant / Aubergine Layers

  • 3 large or 4 medium eggplants / aubergines
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Meat Filling

  • 1.15 lb or 500 grams ground beef or lamb
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes (about 14.5 oz or 400 grams)
  • 1/2 cup or 125 ml dry red wine
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 beef bouillon/stock cube
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1.5 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp dry oregano
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon

Greek Béchamel Sauce

  • 21 oz or 625 ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 5 tbsp plain flour
  • 3.5 oz or 100 grams parmesan/kefalotiri cheese
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 tbsp black or white pepper
  • pinch of nutmeg (optional)

Instructions

Bake the Moussaka Eggplant/Aubergine Layers

  1. Cut the eggplants in approx. 1/2 inch or 1 cm-thick slices, and place them in a large container. Sprinkle them with 1-2 tablespoons of salt, and leave them aside for roughly half an hour. This is called 'sweating the eggplants,' and it helps cut down on the bitterness of the eggplants.
  2. After 30 minutes, pat them dry with a paper towel. Place your eggplant slices on baking trays, and brush them with olive oil.
  3. Preheat your oven to 460° F or 240 °C. Bake the eggplant slices in the oven for roughly 15 minutes. Afterward, pull them out of the oven and let them cool.

Make the Moussaka Meat Filling

We can make this filling while we're waiting 30 minutes for the eggplant slices to “sweat.”

  1. Dice the onions and mince the garlic.
  2. In a pan over medium heat, add one tablespoon of oil and the diced onion, and cook for about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the minced garlic, and cook for one more minute.
  4. Add the ground beef or lamb and stir periodically, until the meat is cooked and no longer pink.
  5. Add the wine, and cook for about 10 minutes (or until you can no longer smell the alcohol).
  6. Finally, add the canned tomatoes, the tomato puree, beef stock/bouillon cube, sugar, oregano, cinnamon, and salt. Cook over low-medium heat until most of the juices have evaporated, about 10-15 minutes.

Make the Greek Béchamel sauce

We can make this sauce while we're waiting 30 minutes for the eggplant slices to “sweat.”

  1. Warm up the milk on the stove or in the microwave.
  2. Next, in a pan over medium heat, melt the butter and add the flour, stirring quickly to form a well-blended paste (or “roux”). This should all take about 2 minutes. Don’t let the butter brown!
  3. After the mixture blends nicely, start adding the milk, very slowly, while whisking to incorporate it into the mixture while it thickens. Bring it to a boil and immediately lower the heat, stirring it for 2-3 more minutes over low heat.
  4. After the mixture thickens, remove from fire and add the cheese, pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg (optional).
  5. Allow it to rest for a few minutes, and add the eggs.

Assemble the Moussaka, Bake, and Serve

  1. Set your oven temperature to 350°F or 175°C while assembling the moussaka so that it’s ready to go into the oven as soon as you’re done assembling it.
  2. Layer out half of the eggplant slices on the baking dish.
  3. Place the meat filling on top.
  4. Add the remaining half of the eggplant slices.
  5. Top with the Béchamel sauce. Bake for approximately 45 minutes.
  6. Take it out of the oven, and wait for it to cool down until it's warm to touch (about 15 minutes).
  7. Now it's ready to serve. Kalí órexi! Enjoy your meal!

Notes

We love to serve it with pita and Greek-Cypriot talatouri/ tzatziki spread.

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Author: Doina Johnson is a content writer and creator, who has traveled to over 30 countries. She is passionate about trying new foods and loves to make foods she has tried on her travels in her home kitchen.

Contributor: Anastasiya Tikhonova is a writer and translator who has lived in Cyprus for several years. Anastasiya writes about all things Cypriot culture, and she is fluent in three languages.

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