Lighten-up easy Moussaka Stuffed Eggplants bring a traditional Greek comfort food to a whole new level – Easy to make, gluten-free and ready in just 30 min, this is a great recipe the whole family will love.
In case you’re not familiar with Moussaka, is basically a Greek version of classic Italian lasagna. In place of pasta sheets however, this gluten-free dish uses layers of fried eggplant (aubergine in UK) slices to separate the meat filling.
Moussaka is a very traditional Greek dish, so every family as its own version. Being half-greek myself, I’ve got my personal go-to moussaka too, which is a bit lighten up but still bursting with awesome flavors.
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These Moussaka Stuffed Eggplants come together much faster than you may think. They take about 30 min to make start to finish, and only require few simple ingredients including pantry staples, fresh ricotta, beef/veal mince and of course eggplants.
The quality of the mince in this recipe is critical. Feel free to go for the classic route and choose lamb, or opt for a more versatile option with goof-quality beef or veal. Rather than buying ready prepared mince ask your butcher to freshly mince some meat (free range organic farm meat is highly preferable). You should neither look for fatty cuts or super lean cuts such as fillet or sirloin, chuck or braising steak is the right quality (coarsely minced, with around 10% fat).
The ricotta sauce is whipped up in seconds, and lighter than béchamel sauce, originally used in traditional moussaka. All you have to do is mix together ricotta with a bit of light crème fraîche. This sauce is my go-to alternative to béchamel, and I find it super handy when it comes to this sorts of recipes. There’s no need to put the dish back in the oven for further baking, and I really like its refreshing flavor, which lifts things up and gives a nice contrast.
Once you’re good with the sauce, prepare the eggplant. Simply score a criss-cross pattern over each halved eggplant (making sure not to cut through the skin), season with extra virgin olive oil, salt and thyme, and put them in the oven for about 20 min. Whilst they bake, prepare the easy filling.
Moussaka filling is quite similar to bolognese sauce (called ragu’ in Italy), but requires less ingredients and cooks a lot faster. Simply sweat the onion, add in garlic, beef, tomatoes, thyme and cook for about 20 min, pouring stock half-way trough. By the time the eggplants are nicely cooked, the filling is too. Scoop out the eggplant flesh and mix it together with your filling.
Finally, fill each eggplant with the moussaka mixture, top with ricotta sauce, sprinkle with basil & chilli flakes (for a bit of heat) and your dinner is ready!
These easy Moussaka Stuffed Eggplants are the kind of comfort food I crave on cold nights this time of the year – They’re awesomely quick to put together and guaranteed to be a big crowd-pleaser!
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- 2 large eggplants / aubergines, cut in half lengtwhise
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 4 thyme sprigs
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 white/gold onion, finely minced
- 1 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 10 oz/350 g good quality organic beef mince
- a handful of Piccadilly or cherry tomatoes, halved and deseeded
- 1 tsp of brown sugar
- 1 full tbsp tomato paste ( I use double concentrate)
- 5 fl oz/150 ml chicken stock
- 2 thyme sprigs
- sea salt and black pepper to taste
- 5 oz/150 gr fresh ricotta
- 2 tbsp creme fraiche
- salt and pepper
- handful basil leaves, finely chopped
- 1 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
- Preheat oven to 190C/400F.
- Cut each eggplant in half lengthwise through the stem, Then, score the flesh in a tight criss-cross pattern, making sure not to cut through the skin. Place them on a baking tray covered with parchment paper.
- Brush with extra virgin olive each half, season with sea salt and a sprig of thyme, then bake for 20 minutes or until the flesh is soft and tender.
- In the meantime, prepare the filling. Heat a large skillet (or wok) with the olive oil over medium heat, and fold in chopped onion and garlic.
- Add in beef mince, and cook for 5 min until brown, breaking the mince with a wooden spoon as you cook. Then stir in halved tomatoes, thyme and sugar and continue to cook for a further 2 min.
- Whisk the tomato paste into the chicken stock and pour over the beef. Season with salt and pepper to taste, cover with a lid and simmer over medium-low heat for about 15 min, until the sauce has reduced consistently.
- For the ricotta sauce: simply whisk ricotta and creme fraiche together until smooth and creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside until needed.
- Once the eggplants are ready, gently scoop out the flesh and mix it together with your filling. Finally, fill each eggplant with the moussaka mixture, top with ricotta sauce, sprinkle with basil & chilli flakes and serve immediately.
- Store in airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days.