This heart warming eggplant casserole with potato and ground meat topped with a cheesy béchamel is simply delicious and the perfect meal for any occasion. In fact, I may make it again very soon. What about you?
Eggplants, eggplants, eggplants…
Anything with eggplants is a favorite of mine as you may already know, and Moussaka is no exception.
Some of the most interesting and fun facts about eggplant that I stumbled upon are:
- Eggplants are a great source of folic acid and potassium, and some studies say they help lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Eggplant is rich source of dietary fibers, vitamins C, K and vitamins of the B group, and minerals such as copper, phosphorus and magnesium.
- Eggplants aren’t vegetables, they’re berries just like other fruits commonly mistaken for vegetables like tomatoes. Eggplants and tomatoes are actually related. They both belong to the nightshade family with the famous literary poison, but eggplant isn’t toxic, at least not in normal amounts.
- In French eggplants are called “aubergines”. It is believed to have originated in India, where it is considered to be the King of Vegetables and the word “aubergine” goes all the way back to the ancient Indian language Sanskrit.
- Eggplants are known as brinjal in some parts of the world and in Haiti as “berejèn”
- In Japan they have a proverb about eggplant:
“The happiest omen for a New Year is first Mount Fuji, then the falcon, and lastly eggplant.”
- China is the greatest manufacturer of the eggplants in the world. It produces 28.800.000 tons of eggplants annually.
- The most popular types of eggplant are oval shaped and covered with smooth, glossy, purple colored skin. Flesh is whitish or creamy colored and has spongy texture.
- A black dye can be made from the skin of purple eggplant. At one time in the Orient, women thought it fashionable to use this dye to stain their teeth. Yikes!
Anyway, back to Moussaka …
It is an easy to make dish that just takes a little time as would a lasagna because of the individual preparation of each ingredient and sauces. It is not expensive to make as eggplants, potatoes, tomatoes and ground beef are the main ingredients. Inspired from the famous Mediterranean recipe, my version calls for ground beef rather then lamb.
When I made it, my guests devoured it and many “mmmsss” came from my boys who enjoyed every single layer of it. Honestly this dish with a tossed salad is a true family meal that everyone will enjoy.
So get to your stove and get cooking.
- 3 eggplants thinly sliced
- 3 tomatoes thinly sliced
- 4 cups boiled and thinly sliced potatoes
- Salt & pepper
- To top
- ¾ cup tete de maure (or parmesan)
- ¾ cup pepper jack
- For the Béchamel
- 125 gr butter (1/4 cup)
- ¼ cup flour
- 2 cups milk
- 2 cups tete de maure (or parmesan cheese)
- ½ cup pepper jack
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp garlic
- ¼ tsp Rosemary
- Cracked black pepper to taste
- For the Meat
- 1.5 lb ground beef meat seasoned with 2 tbsp garlic marinade
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- ½ onion diced
- 1 tbsp garlic marinade
- ¼ cup red wine
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- ½ cup hot water
- ¼ tsp hot sesame oil
- 5 sprigs of thyme (leaves only)
- Salt and pepper
- Peel and boil your potatoes in lightly salted water until lightly tender (don't over cook them).
- Once cooled, slice them thinly into rounds and set aside.
- Preheat your oven at 375° F.
- Slice your eggplants into ⅓ inch rounds as well and place them on a paper towel lined baking sheet.
- Sprinkle them generously with salt on both sides and top with another layer of paper towel. Use to trays to lie your eggplants and stack them on top of each other to apply pressure and release the water, topped with a few cooking books for extra weight. Allow them to sit there for 15-20 minutes.
- Rinse your eggplant slices with water and tap them dry with paper towel to remove the excess moisture.
- Place your eggplants back directly onto your dried baking sheets and drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil (about 2 tablespoons, and let them broil until slightly grilled on both sides (about 15 minutes total for both sides).
- Do the same with your thinly sliced tomatoes. This will help release the tomato juices before cooking the casserole.
- While broiling start prepping your béchamel sauce.
- Melt your butter in a saucepan over medium heat, and stir in your flour with care so It does not brown.
- Stir constantly and start adding your milk to obtain a smooth mixture.
- Add in your dijon mustard, garlic, rosemary and cheeses and a little freshly cracked black pepper to taste.
- Turn off the heat and set aside.
- Now prep your meat sauce in a large saucepan.
- Heat the remaining olive oil and sauté your diced onions with two tablespoons garlic marinade.
- Add in your seasoned meat and let is sauté and cook over medium high heat.
- Add in your red wine, tomato paste, sugar, hot sesame oil for a little kick of taste and fresh thyme.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Let simmer for about 20 minutes.
- Once all your ingredients are ready, you are ready to assemble your Moussaka.
- In a large baking dish, arrange in alternated layers your eggplant and tomato rounds.
- Top with your meat sauce.
- Add another layer of eggplant and another of tomato.
- Add a layer of potato rounds.
- Top with béchamel sauce.
- Top all with your grated tête de maure or parmesan, and pepper jack.
- Place into the oven and bake at 375 for an hour.
- Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes.
- Serve warm.