Baked moussaka is a classic Mediterranean dish that combines layers of thinly sliced vegetables, a rich and flavorful meat sauce, and a creamy béchamel sauce, all baked to perfection. This hearty and comforting casserole has its origins in Greece but has become popular throughout the Mediterranean and beyond. Baked moussaka offers a harmonious blend of textures and flavors.
The foundation of any good moussaka is the eggplant, which is typically sliced into thin rounds, salted to remove excess moisture, and then baked or fried until golden and tender. These eggplant slices provide a luscious, meaty texture and a slightly smoky flavor that makes moussaka unique. They also serve as a delicious sponge, soaking up the flavors of the surrounding ingredients.
The meat sauce is another crucial element of baked moussaka. Ground lamb or beef is often used, and it’s cooked with aromatic ingredients like onions, garlic, tomatoes, and a medley of spices, including cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg. This mixture creates a savory, well-seasoned sauce that complements the earthy eggplant beautifully.