Greek Moussaka with Saffron

Greek Moussaka

Some of you may be considering what Moussaka is. It’s a traditional Mediterranean dish eaten throughout the Balkans, Middle East and Levant regions. Featuring layers of eggplant, potatoes or both covered with a tomatoey meat layer using ground lamb or beef and topped with a cheese layer, Moussaka is a very versatile and flexible dish. Family recipes differ from region to region and household to household. Every family cook has the secret family recipe. So there’s no “right” way to make your Moussaka which is fortunate because my Moussaka formula is completely unique from the traditional ones.

SERVES  PREPARATION COOK TIME SKILL LEVEL
12-16 20 minutes 1 1/2 hoursEASY

INGREDIENTS

Eggplant Slices

  • 3 large eggplant sliced about 1/2″ thick
  • salt
  • 4-5 Tbsp olive oil

Meat Layer

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 1 medium-size zucchini, grated
  • 1 large-size carrot grated
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 cups cooked red lentils drained
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 2 tsp fresh turmeric grated
  • 1 tsp Savory Spice Shop baking spice or ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2-3/4 tsp Red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 6-8 threads saffron
  • 2 tsp Hungarian paprika
  • 28 oz canned tomatoes
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste

Cheesy Yogurt and Basil Topping

  • 1 cup Plain yogurt
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 oz goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup pecorino romano
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil chopped
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Potatoes

  • 4-5 small russet potatoes cooked and thinly sliced

INSTRUCTIONS

Eggplant Slices

  1. Slice eggplants and sprinkle liberally with salt. Place in a colander for at least half an hour, allowing water to drain away.
  2. Rinse extra salt from eggplant. Drizzle with olive oil and layer on a baking sheet.
  3. Broil eggplant under broiler until they are starting to brown and blacken slightly.
  4. Remove from the heat and set aside until needed during Moussaka assembly.

Meat Layer

  1. Add olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium heat.
  2. Cook onion until soft before adding ground turkey, zucchini and carrots. Cook turkey through. Add red lentils and tomatoes.
  3. Toss in the garlic, turmeric and all spices, cooking until fragrant.
  4. Pour in the red wine and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and set aside until needed for assembly.

Cheesy Yogurt and Basil Topping

  1. Lightly beat eggs in a large bowl.
  2. Pour in yogurt, cheeses, fresh ground black pepper and flour. Beat well. Store in the fridge until needed for assembly.

Moussaka Assembly

  1. Lightly oil a 9″ x 13″ casserole dish. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Arrange cooked eggplant slices evenly in the bottom of the casserole dish.
  3. Cover eggplant with meat layer and top with potato slices.
  4. Top potatoes with Cheesy Yogurt and Basil Topping.
  5. Bake Moussaka for 45 to 50 minutes until bubbly and top is golden brown.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow Moussaka to rest for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.