Moussaka: The National Dish of Greece

by on 24 September, 2012

Moussaka: The National Dish of Greece

Simply put, moussaka is the national dish of Greece: a divine meal prepared with eggplant, ground beef, onions, tomatoes, spices and béchamel sauce.

The traditional Greek moussaka has 3 layers: the bottom layer is sliced eggplant sautéed in olive oil the middle layer is ground beef (sometimes lamb) precooked with spices, herbs, onion, garlic and tomatoes the top layer is béchamel sauce.

In order to cook the traditional Greek moussaka you need:
2-3 medium eggplants, sliced
1 lb and 2 oz lean ground beef
2-3 medium tomatoes cubed
1 cup olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 garlic clove
1 bay leaf
1 cup grated cheese (Parmesan is preferred)
2 cups béchamel sauce
Salt and pepper

In a pan, heat the olive oil and add the chopped onions.
When lightly sautéed add the ground beef and cook for another 10 minutes.
Then add the cubed tomatoes, the garlic, the bay leaf, salt and pepper.

Keep cooking for about an hour.

Meantime, allow the sliced eggplants to soak in salty water for about an hour.
Then drain the slices and fry them in very hot oil. When done, drain the excess olive oil.
If you want to make a diet-friendly version, bake the eggplant slices in the oven for 15 minutes at 392 F.
In a large pan, place the first layer of eggplant slices then add the layer of ground beef you have just cooked.
Pour the béchamel sauce on top and sprinkle the cheese.
Put in the oven and bake at high temperature for about 5 minutes (until the béchamel turns golden).

Serve while hot, ideally with a glass of Greek wine and share with a bunch of friends. The above recipe makes 6 servings.

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