The most well-known Greek dish is arguably Moussaka. It’s a layered eggplant or potato-based dish, often including ground meat. The top layer is usually a bechamel sauce or egg-based topping.
History of Moussaka: Moussaka has an interesting history. Its origins are traced back to the Middle East, and the dish was likely brought to Greece during the Ottoman Empire. The modern Greek version, which includes layers of eggplant and bechamel sauce, was created by Nikolaos Tselementes, a Greek chef, in the 1920s.
Ingredients for Greek Moussaka:
For the Moussaka:
- 2 large or 3 medium eggplants
- 4 large potatoes
- 1.5 lbs ground beef or lamb
- 1 large chopped onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1/4 cup red wine
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup grated cheese (kefalotyri, pecorino, or another hard cheese)
For the Béchamel Sauce:
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 cups milk
- 4 egg yolks, beaten
- A pinch of ground nutmeg
- Salt to taste
- Preheat your oven to 200°C (392°F). Peel the eggplants and potatoes and cut them into slices. Season with salt and let them sit for about 20 minutes to remove excess water. Rinse, dry, and then lightly fry in a pan. Set aside.
- For the meat sauce, sauté the onions and garlic in a little olive oil until soft. Add the ground meat and cook until browned. Add the wine, tomatoes, parsley, cinnamon, salt, and pepper, then let it simmer for about 20-30 minutes until the liquids have evaporated.
- Arrange a layer of potatoes at the bottom of a baking dish. Add a layer of eggplant slices on top. Spread the meat sauce over the eggplant, then add another layer of eggplant.
- For the béchamel sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan, then add the flour, stirring continuously. Gradually add the milk, stirring until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat and add the egg yolks, nutmeg, and some salt. Stir until it’s smooth and creamy.
- Pour the béchamel sauce over the eggplant, smoothing it with a spatula. Sprinkle the grated cheese on top.
- Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Let it cool for about 20-30 minutes before serving.
Calories: The calorie content can vary depending on the exact ingredients used, but a serving of Moussaka can be roughly around 550-600 calories. Keep in mind, this is a rich dish and is usually served as a main course.
Please note that this is a traditional version of the recipe, and there are many variations. Some might include zucchini or other vegetables. Also, while this recipe calls for ground beef, traditionally in Greece, it’s often made with lamb.