Beef, Cheese, Entree, Meat, Recipes, Sauces, Uncategorized

A Fairly Low-Fat Moussaka


Moussaka is a great Greek dish, of layered potatoes, fried eggplants and cooked meat, topped with a thick layer of either Béchamel sauce (milk based sauce, thickened with flour), or Mornay sauce (Béchamel sauce with cheese), creating a highly delectable and tasty combination. However, at the same time, it is quite a heavy dish – mostly because of the enormous amounts of oil that the eggplant soaks while frying, and also because of the thick topping sauce, which contains a large amount of flour, or cheese, or both – sometimes even with an addition of eggs on top of it all! In many cases, a fatty lamb meat is used for the cooked meat layer, which also contributes to its heaviness.
In the version I have here, I have tried to prepare a fairly lighter version of the dish. First, I used an old Mediterranean trick to make the eggplant soak less oil while frying, by sprinkling the slices with salt, and leaving them overnight to “sweat”. After this treatment, they hardly soak any oil when fried.
Another “trick” was to replace the thick layer of heavy Mornay sauce with a much lighter one, made with chicken stock instead of the milk, and with substantially less flour and cheese. Using beef, instead of the heavier lamb, also reduced the fat content substantially. The result is a dish that has all the original wonderful flavors, but is much lighter.
While the dish still requires some make-ahead preparations, it is really not that difficult to prepare, and it definitely is  worth the time and effort involved in making it. Try it and enjoy.


Makes : 6
Make ahead preparations for the eggplants: overnight
Prep time: 45 minutes
Frying/Cooking time: 45 minutes
Baking time: 1 hour

For the eggplants:
3 medium size eggplants
Kosher salt
Oil for frying
For the potato layer:
1 large potato, peeled and sliced
For the meat layer:
3 Tbs oil
1 medium size onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1.65 lbs (750 grams) ground beef (I used chuck)
1 tomato, peeled and diced (check HERE for instructions on how to peel tomatoes)
2 Tbs tomato paste
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1/8 tsp cinnamon powder
Salt and freshly black pepper to taste
2 cups chicken stock
For the sauce:
½ stick (55 grams) butter
¼ cup flour
2 cups chicken stock
¼ cup Pecorino cheese, finely grated
Salt to taste
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

  1. The eggplants: cut off the ends of each eggplant, slice lengthwise with a serrated knife , and arrange over a work surface. Sprinkle with salt on both sides and place slices in a large colander. Place in a larger bowl, or in the sink, to let the eggplants “sweat” overnight.
  2. The following day, pat dry the slices with paper towels, pressing them gently. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry on both sides until they are golden brown. Transfer to paper towels, to absorb excess oil, and let cool to room temperature.
  3. The meat layer: in a large pan, mix the oil and onion with a bit of salt, and sauté over medium-high heat until it softens. Add the garlic, mix, and sauté a half a minute longer. Add the meat and cook, mixing it constantly with a spatula, to prevent lumps from forming, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the rest of ingredients, and mix well. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning. Let cool to room temperature. Discard the bay leaves and thyme sprigs.
  5. The cheese sauce: melt the butter in a large pan, over medium-low heat. Add the flour and stir, to mix with the butter. Gradually, and while whisking, add the stock and whisk to a smooth sauce. Cook until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes, and turn the heat off. Add the cheese, salt and nutmeg and stir again. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  6. Preheat the oven to 330F (165C). Layer the potato slices in a 9.5” (24cm) square pan. Top with a layer of half of fried eggplant slices.
  7. Spread the meat mixture over, and arrange the rest of fried eggplant slices over it. Spread the cheese sauce over.
  8. Bake for about 1 hour, until the top is golden. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting. Serve warm.

21 thoughts on “A Fairly Low-Fat Moussaka”

  1. Love moussaka especially your version. I often salt cukes and such beforehand to get the excess water out but never knew that process would make frying eggplant so much healthier – great tip! I do try to lighten sauces when I can as every little bit helps and often the quality/taste of the dish is not affected 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Judi, like you, I try to make such classic dishes lighter, and I dare say I managed to do that here, while still keeping all the flavors of the original dish.
      The process of salting/sweating the eggplants makes a big difference with the amount of oil they soak. I hope you’ll find it works for you as well. 🙂


  2. Je découvre vos recettes et j’en suis ravie ! Beaucoup de peps et de couleurs ! Et ça a l’air savoureux ! Veuillez m’envoyer vos prochains posts svp… Merci !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Mary, I’m very glad you like my recipes.
      If you’ll press the small blue “follow” button, you can enter your email, and you’ll be updated with any new post.
      If for some reason this doesn’t work, email me at and I’ll send you updates directly.
      à bientôt ! 🙂


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