Greek Moussaka – the healthier way

Moussaka has always been a favourite Greek dish of mine, not only because it tastes so amazing, but because it reminds me of where I came from.

For me, it’s a quintessentially Greek dish that, when I bake it, it fills my senses with the flavours and aromas of my grandmother’s and mother’s kitchen. It’s one of those dishes that conjures up so many wonderful memories from my childhood.gfmoussakaIn the original recipe, the potato and eggplant slices are fried in hot oil, which takes a lot of time and effort, and can end up making the dish quite oily. Instead of frying, I arrange the sliced vegetables on a oven tray, brush them with a little extra virgin olive oil and bake them in a hot oven, which gives me the same result without the effort or oiliness.

The other change I have made to the recipe is to swap the normal flour in the white sauce with gluten free flour. I originally did this because of a celiac problem in my family, but found the Moussaka was much lighter made this way and my family all prefer it, so now I always make it GF.

While these two small changes have made this great dish lighter and healthier, it still has the traditional delicious taste you expect in a Greek Moussaka.  trayofmoussakaServes 8

What you need

  • 4 medium eggplants (aubergines)
  • 8 medium potatoes – I prefer Dutch Creams or Desiree
  • ¾ extra virgin olive oil
  • 1kg minced lean beef
  • 1 large onion – finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove – finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 4 large (very) ripe tomatoes – peeled and chopped, or 400g tinned chopped tomatoes
  • ½ bunch continental parsley – washed and finely chopped
  • Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • Baking dish – approximately 30cm x 23cm

For the white sauce (béchamel)

  • 120g butter
  • 140g GF Plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 4 cups milk
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg – preferably freshly ground
  • 50g tasty cheese – grated
  • 50g parmesan cheese – grated

What to do

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a pan over a medium heat.

Add the minced beef and use a fork to break up large pieces. Cook until beef has browned.

Add onion, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. Stir through and cook for about 2 minutes or until the onion has softened.

Add the chopped tomatoes and ¾ cup water. Stir through and allow to simmer on a low heat for 15 minutes. Add the chopped parsley and simmer for a further 5 minutes then remove from heat and leave aside.

Next, slice the eggplant lengthways in to 1cm thick slices.

Place on paper towel and sprinkle with a little salt. Leave for 40 minutes to extract any bitterness, then rinse under cold water and pat dry.

In the meantime, heat oven to 200°C.

Peel the potatoes and slice into 1cm thick slices. Arrange in a single layer on an oven tray lined with baking paper. Brush with half of the oil and sprinkle with a little salt. Place in the oven to bake for 40-50 minutes or until golden.

IMG_2875Carefully lift the potato slices onto a large plate and allow to cool.

Using the same oven tray, arrange the eggplant slices in a single layer and brush with the remaining oil. Place in the oven to bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden.

Remove and allow to cool.

For the white sauce

Melt the butter in a saucepan on a med/low heat

Add the flour and and stir to combine. Stirring continuously, cook for 5 minutes or until the mixture starts to brown a little. Slowly pour in the milk and whisk well to remove any flour lumps. Stir until it comes to a boil and thickens. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.

Add the nutmeg, tasty cheese, salt, pepper and beaten eggs and stir through to combine.

To construct the Moussaka, arrange all the potato slices, slightly overlapping, on the base of your baking dish. Spread half of the minced beef mixture over the top.

Next, arrange the slices of eggplant over the beef mixture and spread remaining mince over the top.

Spread the white (béchamel) sauce over the top, sprinkle with the grated parmesan and place in the oven on 180°C for 50 – 60 minutes or until golden.

Moussaka and saladAllow to cool slightly before serving with a fresh Greek salad.img_6834.jpgI hope you and your family enjoy this dish as much as mine! 🙂

Kali Orexi