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Homemade moussaka always seems to be a prolonged, multi-step process. But, oh so tasty. Especially since you can choose what goes in it! Some people love adding carrots and zucchini, but as much as I love those, I prefer to keep the texture simple with the eggplant and potatoes as the vegetable layers.

moussaka fresh from the oven

It really helps to have a small bowl and pastry brush for the oil, since eggplant does absorb liquids like a sponge.

Layers & tomato-chicken sauce

  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds eggplant, sliced into 1/4 inch thick discs
  • 3/4 to 1 pound potatoes (such as Yukon Gold or Russett), sliced into 1/4 inch thick discs
  • olive oil, as needed
  • salt
  • 2 medium to large onions, diced
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground chicken or turkey
  • 4 to 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1/3 cup good red wine
  • (optional) 1/4 to 1/3 cup raisins or chopped prunes

Spice mix

  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • freshly ground pepper, as desired

Cheese (Mornay) sauce

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose or pastry flour
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese, such as Cheddar, Gruyère or Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup yogurt


  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF degrees. Arrange the eggplant slices into a single layer on a non-stick baking sheet. Brush both sides of the slices with olive oil, then lightly sprinkle with salt. Pop them in the oven to bake: The eggplant should soften and dry out a little bit, about 20 to 30 minutes.
  2. You can do the same with the potato slices, which should become tender and lightly golden in about 20 to 25 minutes. Flip the slices and swap the baking sheets’ positions midway, so they get evenly baked. However, if you’ve got a microwave oven, here’s a quick way to cook the potato: Put them in an oven safe bowl with a tablespoon of butter. Zap until cooked, but just barely tender, about 6 to 7 minutes; don’t forget to give the potatoes a good toss around the halfway point.
  3. While the vegetable slices are cooking, start preparing the tomato-chicken sauce. In a large sauce pot, sauté the onion in 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat until translucent. Stir in the the spice mix.
  4. When the spices become aromatic, add the ground chicken and garlic. After most of the chicken is cooked, stir in the tomato sauce, red wine and dried fruit, if using. Bring to an energetic simmer, and cook uncovered until the liquids have mostly reduced. You want it moist, but not liquidy or dry. This could take from 15 to 30 minutes.
  5. When the slices and tomato-chicken sauce are ready, layer them in an oiled glass or ceramic dish (10 inch square is fine, at least 2 inches high). Start with potatoes, followed by tomato-chicken sauce, then eggplant, then more tomato-chicken. Repeat until those ingredients are used up, but make sure there’s at least an inch of free space on top for the cheese sauce. When you’re done, cover the casserole and pop it in the oven.
  6. Prepare the cheese sauce, which takes about 10 to 15 minutes. Make a roux from the butter and flour, then slowly incorporate the milk until it is smooth. Add the salt, and paprika.
  7. Take the sauce off the heat and stir in the cheese until smooth again. Then stir in the yogurt. Remove the casserole dish from the oven so that you can pour the cheese sauce over the moussaka.
  8. Bake the moussaka for an additional 30 to 45 minutes, this time uncovered, until the cheese sauce becomes browned and bubbly. Allow to rest for 5 to 15 minutes before serving.

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