Baked Lamb and Eggplant

  • Active Time 25m
  • Total Time 2h 40m
  • Rating ****

Serves 8-10

This famous Greek dish is believed to have been carried to Greece by the Arabs in the Middle Ages. Moussaka can be prepared in advance and gently reheated before serving.


  • 3 pounds eggplants
  • For Meat Sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 large yellow onions, chopped
  • 2 pounds ground lean lamb
  • 3 cups canned chopped plum tomatoes (Roma)
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 3/4 cup (1 ounce/30 grams) chopped fresh flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of ground cloves or allspice
  • Olive oil for brushing
  • For Béchamel Sauce:
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups hot milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup fine dried bread crumbs
  • 1 cup freshly grated kefalotiri or Parmesan cheese


Peel the eggplants and cut into slices 1/2 inch thick. Place the eggplant slices in a colander, sprinkle with salt and let stand for 1 hour to drain off the bitter juices.

FOR MEAT SAUCE: Warm the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until tender, about 8 minutes. Add the lamb and cook until the meat loses its redness and starts to brown, about 5-7 minutes. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, wine, oregano, parsley, cinnamon and ground cloves or allspice. Simmer over low heat until thickened and most of the liquid is absorbed, about 45 minutes. If it begins to look too dry, add a little water. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt, pepper and the spices. Set aside.

Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F. Rinse the eggplant slices with cool water, drain well and pat dry with paper towels. Place on baking sheets, brush the tops with olive oil and bake in the oven, turning once and brushing on the second side with oil, until tender, golden and translucent, about 15-20 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain.

FOR BECHAMEL SAUCE: Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Whisk in the flour and raise the heat to medium. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. (Do not brown.) Gradually whisk in the hot milk and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until thickened, 2-3 minutes. Add the nutmeg, season to taste with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.

Whisk the eggs and ricotta in a small bowl until well blended, then whisk into the hot sauce.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

TO ASSEMBLE: Oil an 11 x 15-inch baking dish. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the bread crumbs on the bottom of the dish. Arrange 1/2 of the eggplant slices in the dish and spoon the meat sauce over them. Layer the remaining eggplant slices on top and pour the béchamel evenly over the surface. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup bread crumbs and then with the cheese.

Bake until it is heated through and the top is golden brown, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand for 15 minutes before cutting into squares to serve.

Recipe reprinted by permission of Weldon Owen. All rights reserved.

RecID 697

nutrition information per serving

462 calories; 23g total fat; 159mg cholesterol; 478mg sodium; 29g carbohydrates; 6g fiber; 34g protein

These nutrition facts are calculated according to the ingredients listed in this recipe. Any substitutions will change these facts. Although we strive for accuracy, please note that food manufacturers occasionally change their food formulas, which could affect the calculations as shown.

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