Turkish Eggplant and Ground Beef Casserole

Moussaka
Turkish musakka with bechamel sauce Kate Whitaker/Getty Images
Prep: 90 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 2 hrs
Servings: 8 servings
Yield: 1 casserole
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
653 Calories
40g Fat
49g Carbs
31g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
×
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 653
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 40g 51%
Saturated Fat 11g 56%
Cholesterol 93mg 31%
Sodium 673mg 29%
Total Carbohydrate 49g 18%
Dietary Fiber 12g 42%
Total Sugars 21g
Protein 31g
Vitamin C 28mg 140%
Calcium 266mg 20%
Iron 4mg 21%
Potassium 1135mg 24%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

If you've traveled in the Balkans, Greece, Turkey and the eastern Mediterranean, you're probably familiar with a delicious, layered eggplant and meat casserole called moussaka. Moussaka is a dish served throughout this region in countries that were once part of the Ottoman empire.

The basic ingredients of moussaka include eggplant, tomato, and ground lamb or beef. Each country has its own variations of the recipe.

For example, Greek cooks sometimes add red wine or port to the meat mixture, add potatoes and other vegetables to the mix and top the casserole with béchamel sauce and cheese. In Turkish cuisine, musakka is usually made with beef rather than lamb. One type is topped with béchamel and kashar cheese, while the classic version of musakka is topped with sliced peppers and tomatoes in place of the white sauce.

This recipe for Turkish-style musakka'can be made with or without the white sauce and cheese on top. Simply eliminate the béchamel and cover the top of the meat layer with slices of tomato and pepper before you put it in the oven.

Ingredients

  • 5 eggplants

  • 2 cups vegetable oil, for frying

  • 1 onion

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 green pepper, Hungarian, or sweet green pepper

  • 1 1/4 pounds (600 grams) lean ground beef

  • 4 large tomatoes, divided

  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, or margarine

  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano

  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 3 cups milk

  • 1 cup cheese, such as grated Turkish kaşar, or other mild, yellow cheese

  • Sweet red pepper strips, or slices, and/or green pepper, for garnish

Steps to Make It

  1. Begin by peeling your eggplants. Using a vegetable peeler, begin at one end and remove a strip of peel from end to end. Leave a strip of peel about the same width, then peel another strip from end to end.

  2. Repeat this until your eggplant is peeled in a striped pattern. Peel all eggplant this way.

  3. Slice the eggplants about 1/4-inch thick. Put all the eggplant slices in a large bowl of salty water and let them soak for about 30 minutes. This removes the bitterness.

  4. Slice the green pepper into thin rings. Grate 1 tomato. Peel and chop the onion finely and fry it in 1 tablespoon of olive oil until tender.

  5. Add the green pepper slices and continue frying until soft. Add the ground beef and fry until browned. Add the grated tomato, tomato paste, and spices.

  6. Cover the pan and let the meat simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.

  7. Grate the other 3 tomatoes and put them in a small saucepan.

  8. Add the tomato paste, salt, pepper, oregano, and sugar and let the sauce simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.

  9. Remove the eggplant slices from the water and blot them dry with paper towels.

  10. Fry them on both sides in vegetable oil until tender and golden brown on both sides. Drain them well on paper towels.

  11. Line the bottom of a large baking tray with the fried eggplant slices to make a single layer. Make sure there are no gaps between the pieces.

  12. Spread the tomato sauce over the eggplant. Next, cover the tomato sauce layer with the meat mixture.

  13. In a large pan, melt the butter over high heat. Add the flour and turn it around a few times with a wooden spoon.

  14. Add the milk and seasonings and use a wire whisk to make the mixture smooth as it thickens. Your béchamel sauce is ready when it’s the consistency of pudding.

  15. Pour the hot béchamel sauce over the meat layer, covering it completely. Sprinkle the grated cheese evenly over the top of the casserole.

  16. Bake the casserole in a 360 F / 180 C oven until the top turns golden brown.

  17. Remove the casserole from the oven and let it rest for at least 10 minutes before cutting it into squares.

  18. Serve your musakka with Turkish-style rice pilaf.