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Rustic Eggplant Moussaka

 "An authentic, delicious recipe for Eggplant Moussaka- perfect for entertaining or serving at a  special gathering. Can be made ahead. Vegetarian and vegan adaptable!"

Rustic Eggplant Moussaka






  • 3 Lbs Eggplant (2 extra-large or 3 eggplants)
  • 3 Table olive oil or cooking spray
  • Salt
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 Cloves garlic, rough chopped
  • 2 Lbs ground lamb, ground beef (or use vegetarian ground meat substitute -Gimme Lean or St Ives Meatless Ground.) I prefer lamb
  • 1.5 Cups diced tomatoes, with juices (or 14-ounce can, with juices)
  • 3 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 Cup white wine (optional, sub 1/4 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 Teaspoon Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 Teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon cracked pepper
  • 3 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
  • Béchamel Sauce:
  • 3 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 2 Cups Milk
  • 1/2 Teaspoon nutmeg (use fresh grated if possible)
  • 1/4 Teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper or white pepper
  • 1/4 Cup grated Parmesan Cheese ( plus an additional 1/4 cup for the top-optional)
  • 1 egg, room temp, lightly beaten

How to Make It

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, sauté diced onion in oil on med-high heat for 3-4 minutes, add garlic, turn heat down to med-low and sauté 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 Béchamel 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.

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