I make Greek Moussaka once or twice a year, always in the winter, served with different versions of a classic Greek salad. This meal reminds me of the first time I visited Greece and the amazing new flavours and classic dishes I was introduced to.
It seems pretty easy to me since I’ve made it many, many times but as I often say; so many recipes, so little time.
I first visited Greece long before the internet was invented and before tadziki was on the shelf in every grocery store. While visiting I learned about traditional Greek dishes from a physical book, my Berlitz European Menu Reader. This tiny book was filled with essential dining vocabulary, culinary terms and as I recall, an overview of the typical dishes from each country.
Our mission was to try as many of them as we could.
Moussaka was on that list.
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I remember that first moussaka. It was an open-air restaurant in Athens with live music and a view of the Parthenon in the distance.
Traditionally moussaka would be described as a layered meat dish with eggplant (called aubergines in Europe). The meat can be ground lamb or ground beef and the cooked mixture is layered between vegetable slices. Although eggplant is the most common vegetable, many recipes call for zucchini, sliced potatoes or all three.
Tips for Making White Sauce
The topping of moussaka is most commonly a thick béchamel sauce with added cheese and beaten eggs. As the moussaka bakes it creates a slightly firm, creamy topping. This starts with the same basic white sauce you would use to make homemade macaroni and cheese.
Although many recipes for white sauce are made with wheat flour I’ve always made mine with cornstarch. That means it’s naturally gluten free.
Variations for Greek Moussaka
For an easier version of moussaka you can avoid the layering process by chopping the vegetables before you sauté them. Simply fold them into the meat mixture and spread it all in the pan. With the creamy white sauce on top it will still look like traditional moussaka and have the same great taste.
There is also some variation among recipes for the topping. Although the white sauce with cheese is my personal favourite some recipes have a mashed potato and cheese topping. The look of the finished dish is similar so if potatoes are popular in your house you might want to try it.
This recipe began from my little book of Greek Cookery, purchased on the island of Mykonos. Over time I’ve adjusted it to the version I’ve posted here.
Let me know in the comments below if you enjoyed it. As they say in Greece, yamas!
More Recipes Using White Sauce and a Greek Menu
Click on the (hard to read) text on the image to go to the recipe/blog post.
A Travel Tale from Greece
From time to time I write a guest post for my friend Sue over at Travel Tales of Life. Here’s a post I wrote about our trip to Greece and the nude beach story from Mykonos.
- 1-2 zucchini, cut into ⅓" thick slices*
- 1 eggplant, cut into ⅓" thick slices*
- oil for frying
- 2 tsp cooking oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1½ lbs ground beef or lamb
- 1- 19 oz. can diced tomatoes
- 1 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp ground pepper
- ¼ tsp ground allspice
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 Tbsp dry or toasted gluten free breadcrumbs (optional)
- 1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley (optional)
- ¼ cup butter
- 2 Tbsp cornstarch
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- 2 cups milk (1% or higher)
- 8 oz cottage cheese (250 ml)
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
- 2 eggs, beaten
- Heat oil in large sauté pan on medium-high heat and fry zucchini and eggplant slices in batches until browned, 3-4 minutes per side. Set aside.
- Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, sauté until slightly softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add ground beef and cook the mixture, stirring to break up any lumps, until no longer pink.
- Add tomatoes, tomato paste and spices. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Remove from heat. Stir in egg, breadcrumbs and parsley. Set aside to cool. Can be prepared 2-3 days in advance or frozen.
- In saucepan melt butter. Add cornstarch, salt and pepper and whisk until smooth and no lumps remain.
- When slightly thickened add half the milk and stir over medium heat until sauce thickens. Add the remaining milk and stir until thickened.
- Add cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese, feta and eggs. Stir until evenly combined. Set aside for assembly.
ASSEMBLY - Layer into a 9 x 13-inch baking pan in order:
- ½ of vegetable slices½ meat mixture½ vegetable slices½ meat mixturewhite sauce
- Bake in preheated 350°F oven for 45 minutes or until the top is set and nicely browned. Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.