Old World Greek Moussaka

  • Yield 6 to 8 servings

The scent of aromatic spices permeates the air when this ethnic favorite is baking. It may be assembled one day before serving and topped with the bechamel sauce just before baking.


Meat sauce;
1 1/2 pounds ground lamb or ground beef
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (8 ounce) tomato sauce
1/4 cup red wine
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon each cinnamon and nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Bechamel sauce:
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups milk, heated
1 1/4 cups half-and-half, heated
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
4 egg yolks, beaten
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch slices
Olive oil


For the meat sauce:

  1. Brown the lamb in a large skillet, stirring until crumbly; drain. Remove the lamb to a dish.
  2. Add the olive oil, onion and garlic to the skillet. Saute over medium heat until the onion is translucent. Return the lamb to the skillet.
  3. Stir in the tomato sauce, red wine, parsley, basil, oregano, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

For the bechamel sauce:

  1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan and whisk in the flour. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  2. Whisk in the milk and half-and-half slowly, stirring until smooth. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce thickens, stirring frequently.
  3. Add the salt and nutmeg. Stir a small amount of the sauce into the beaten egg yolks; stir the egg yolks into the hot sauce. Cook until thickened, stirring constantly.
  4. Stir in the cheese.

For the moussaka:

  1. Grease a baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Brush the eggplant slices with olive oil on both sides. Place on the prepared baking sheet in 1 layer. Bake for 20 minutes or until tender.
  3. Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
  4. Layer 1/2 of the eggplant and 1/2 of the meat sauce in the prepared baking pan. Repeat the layers.
  5. Spread the bechamel sauce evenly over the meat sauce. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake, uncovered, for 1 hour or until hot and bubbly. Let stand, covered with foil, for 10 minutes before serving.

Recipe reprinted with permission from the Palo Alto Auxiliary for Children, Tastes, Tales and Traditions (the Palo Alto auxiliary for Chidren, 2005)



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