Layered Eggplant Casserole

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Layered Eggplant CasseroleA great moussaka is a symphony on the palate. Melodically melty on the inside, a crusty crescendo on the outside. The brooding baritone of the eggplant playing off of a light tenor of the tomatoes. And topped with the blaring horns and steady backbeat of béchamel sauce! I guess I lost the metaphor there. But, then again, I always preferred ska to classical, so let’s try this again. A great moussaka is the Mighty Mighty Bosstones of Greek food.

  • Yield: 8 to 10 Servings
  • Total Time: 2 Hours


  • 3 medium (about 2 lb) eggplants, peeled, cut into ¾ inch slices
  • 3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 lb ground beef
  • 1 15-oz can pureed tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 2 Tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ cup water
  • 2¼ cups milk
  • 8 Tbsp butter
  • ½ cup flour
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1½ cups grated Parmesan cheese, divided
How to Make It
  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggplant, olive oil, and salt. Toss the eggplant to coat. Place the eggplant on a sheet pan in a single layer. Transfer the sheet pan to the oven and roast for 15-20 minutes, or until the eggplant is soft and beginning to brown. Remove the eggplant from the oven and set the oven 350°F.
  3. While the eggplant is roasting, begin the meat sauce. Place a skillet over medium-high heat, and add the olive oil. Once the oil begins to shimmer, add onion and salt to the skillet and sauté for 6-8 minutes, or until the onion begins to become translucent. Add garlic and continue to sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the ground beef and continue to sauté, using a spatula to break up the largest chunks. Cook for 8-10 minutes, or until the meat is browned.
  4. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, wine, parsley, sugar, cinnamon, ground pepper, and water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a light simmer. Allow the sauce to simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
  5. Next, assemble the casserole, by spreading a third of your eggplant across the bottom of a baking dish. Spread half the meat sauce over the eggplant. Repeat with a second layer of eggplant and meat sauce, topped with the last third of the eggplant.
  6. To prepare your white sauce, start by warming your milk to about 150 degrees—about 1½ minutes in the microwave or a similar time in a pan. While the milk is warming, heat a skillet over medium heat and add butter. When it has completely melted, sprinkle in the flour and whisk to combine completely. Continue to whisk the mixture for 3-4 minutes, until you have a blond roux.
  7. Slowly pour in 2 cups of the milk while continuing to whisk briskly, to ensure the sauce is smooth with no lumps. Stir in 1 cup of the cheese, along with the salt, pepper and cinnamon. Reduce the heat to low and let the mixture simmer, stirring occasionally for 3-5 minutes.
  8. While the mixture is simmering beat the egg whites until fluffy, about 20 seconds with a mixer or 2 minutes with a whisk. Stop before they begin to form soft peaks. (we’re looking for some airiness, but not a meringue). Stir the remaining ½ cup of warm milk into your egg yolks, to temper them. Add the yolks to the skillet and stir to combine. Remove the skillet from the heat, and fold in the egg whites until well combined.
  9. Pour the white sauce over the top of the meat sauce, completely covering the casserole. Sprinkle the top with the remaining ½ cup of Parmesan cheese. Transfer the baking dish to the oven and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes prior to cutting and serving.

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