Moussaka

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I have a secret. I had never tasted moussaka prior to making this recipe so I have no business adapting it. That being said, I know the components well – Roasted seasoned vegetables, a thick ragu of ground beef in a tomato and of course the Béchamel!  It was a special request from a special someone in my life and I was more than happy to oblige. Who doesn’t love a make-ahead and freezer friendly main to add to the mix?

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This dish is chock full of veggies and lean ground beef so no need to feel badly eating it! The layer of creamy béchamel is definitely a luxury – just go with it and help yourself to a second slice!

Moussaka

  • 2 large yellow potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch rounds
  • 2 small Italian eggplant, cut into 1/4-inch rounds
  • 2 zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch rounds
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tsp dried rosemary
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • One 28 oz. tin whole tomatoes

Preheat your oven to 375°F. Toss the potatoes with 1/3 of the red onion, 1 Tbsp of olive oil 1/2 tsp of each the thyme and rosemary and a pinch of salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer in a 9×13 inch pan and bake for 20 minutes. Repeat with the eggplant and zucchini baking each for 20 minutes for a total of an hour.

In the meantime, in a large dutch oven over medium high heat, heat the remaining olive oil. Add the onion and the rest of the dried herbs. Cook until very fragrant and soft. Add the tomato paste, garlic and bay leaves and cook until the pastes is very slightly browned. Increase the heat and add the beef, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as it cooks. Try not to stir too frequently as you want to develop a bit of a crust on some of the beef. Pour in the canned tomatoes, breaking up the tomatoes and cook at a simmer for 30 minutes.

Once the final vegetable layer is done baking, add just less than 1/3 of the béchamel sauce into the ground beef mixture and spread it evenly over the veggies pushing the meat right to the edges.

Béchamel

  • 100 g butter
  • 100 g flour
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 3 cups milk, plus more if needed
  • 100 g grated parmesan, plus more for sprinkling
  • 3 egg yolks
  • Add a pinch of salt only if necessary
  • Chopped parsley for garnish

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat and whisk in the flour and nutmeg. Cook until the mixture comes together and pulls away from the edges of the pan.

Add the milk a half cup at a time, whisking in completely between additions to prevent any bumps. After all the milk has been added, remove the mixture from the heat one it begins to bubble. Stir in the cheese and the egg yolks one at a time.

Pour the béchamel over the beef mixture and sprinkle with additional parmesan cheese.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until bubbling and golden brown. Turn on the broiler for the last 3-5 minutes if desired. Remove from oven, sprinkle with parsley and wait at least 10 minutes for the bake to set before slicing into it.

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