Paleo Moussaka

November 4, 2013

Paleo Moussaka 
OK guys, it’s getting freezing cold at my latitudes. I was so not prepared for that.
I got out of my building this morning ready to hit the pavement, and I was like “Whoa!” I went back in and had to put an extra layer of running gear on (including gloves). I have to admit it, the thought of calling it a day did cross my mind for a sec, but I somehow convinced myself not to be a wuss and I finally went for my run.
After 12 miles my feet were freezing (I should have worn thermic socks btw), I came home and I was so ready for a warm power breakfast.
Now, under such circumstances I’ll usually make myself a power smoothie or maybe some eggs with avocado, but today I felt different; I felt like I needed to reward myself, and reward myself I did.
It just happened that last night I made this paleo moussaka, which I meant to eat today (and tomorrow and the day after tomorrow) for lunch.
But this morning at 7am it was the right to eat. It was calling my name, and I had to respond.
So I dig into it. Hard. OMG, I was so right. This was probably dopest breakfast I had in months.
Moussaka, who knew.

Paleo Moussaka

Moussaka is such a great dish, a well-known crowd pleaser.
The best moussaka I’ve ever encountered was cooked by my Greek friend Anastasia.
It’s such a great thing to have a Greek friend who knows where to shop for the best kalamata olives in the City and that can make the best tasting pitas and moussaka you’ve ever had. Oh, you don’t have a Greek friend who can cook? I’m sorry pals.

Paleo Moussaka

I don’t remember how I did it, but I’ve managed to convince Anastasia to give me her moussaka recipe (not the one for the pitas though!)
And - as usual - I’m generous enough to share it with you.
I made it paleo by using a paleo bechamel sauce (aka white sauce) made with cauliflower - inspired by this recipe.
I honestly believe that taste-wise this paleo adapted bechamel sauce gives regular bechamel a run for its money. It is certainly 100 times better nutritionally.
With the cold season in full swing a warm serving of paleo moussaka will make your day a tad better. Promise.

Paleo Moussaka Paleo Moussaka                                                                                                      Print this recipe!

Don’t be put off by the long ingredient list, it’s all stuff you probably already have in your pantry. It also seems like a lot of work, it really isn’t. If you’re really good at multitasking (who isn’t these days btw), you can prepare it in a little over 30 minutes and can bake it just before dinner.
Although moussaka is excellent if served shortly after it is taken out of the oven, it’s infinitely improved if made one day in advance. It also freezes pretty well.

Ingredients
Makes 6 generous servings

Eggplant

2 medium eggplants (about 2 pounds), peeled and sliced into ½-inch thick rounds
olive oil
fine grain sea salt
ground black pepper

Meat sauce

1 lb / 453 gr organic ground lamb or lean beef (your choice)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 can 28 oz / 794 gr diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons tomato paste
2 handfuls fresh parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons dried oregano
½ to 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (to taste)
1 tablespoon red vinegar
¼ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
A pinch of ground black pepper

Paleo bechamel sauce

¾ cup / 180 ml milk (your choice, I used almond)
2 cups / 7 oz / 200 gr cauliflower florets
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
A pinch of ground black pepper
3 free-range organic eggs

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C), place a rack in the middle.
On a baking sheet toss eggplant slices with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper.
Spread in a single layer and roast in the oven until soft and golden about 25 to 30 minutes.
While the eggplant is roasting make the meat sauce.
In a large saucepan, heat one tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat, add onions and garlic and saute for 2 to 3 minutes until translucent. Add meat and cook, stirring to prevent sticking, until meat is browned, 5 to 7 minutes (juices should run clear - if you're using lamb, and it looks greasy drain some of it off with the aid of a spoon). Stir in diced tomatoes, tomato paste, parsley, oregano, cinnamon, vinegar, salt and pepper and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside.
In the meantime make the paleo bechamel sauce. In a saucepan add cauliflower florets, milk, garlic, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover with a lid and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and with an immersion blender, blend until smooth (be careful not to splatter yourself!)
Add eggs, one at a time, working quickly making sure that they don’t poach. It will look like a thin white foamy liquid, that’s ok, it will work out in the end, trust me.
To assemble the moussaka, lightly grease a 8 x 12 inch baking dish (or small dutch ovens, like I did). Arrange eggplant slices to form a uniform layer. Cover the eggplant evenly with half of the meat mixture. Repeat to make a second layer.
Carefully spoon the cauliflower bechamel sauce over the meat mixture and spread evenly to the edges (try not to disturb the meat mixture as much as possible).
Bake uncovered for about 25 minutes, until the top is nicely puffed and browned.
Let rest 10 minutes, then sprinkle with some chopped fresh parsley and serve warm (not piping hot).

Nutrition facts

One serving yields 411 calories, 30 grams of fat, 20.7 grams of carbs and 19 grams of protein.

38 comments :

  1. No way! I recently made a paleo moussaka too and I must say it immediately became my Mostest Favoritest Breakfast Evah!

    There is something particularly warm and comforting about Moussaka and it does make for an exceptionally great start to one's day, especially when it's getting cold out. It HAS to be absolutely spectacular after such a long run in the freezing cold. Kudos to you for completing that, btw!

    I get the feeling that I'll be eating A LOT of moussaka this winter. In fact, I think Moussaka will be my new Oatmeal!

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    1. Yay for moussaka then! We can make a pact to eat it for breakfast every morning throughout the wintertime!
      Deal?

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  2. This looks so yummy and the paleo bechamel is such a clever idea!

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    1. I'm telling Joanna it's hands down the best thing ever!

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  3. Foodgawker brought me here...this looks fantastic!

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  4. Ahhh this looks amazing and I love moussaka...will definitely have to try one of these weekends!

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    1. I used to love moussaka but after perfecting this recipe I LOVE moussaka!

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  5. You made this after a 12 mile run in freezing weather...you are something mannn...I would chug down tons of whatever came my way.
    But I know why you were motivated to make it, look at that deliciousness, absolutely yummy. Glad your friend gave the recipe to you...bless her.

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    1. I know, she's the best. It's good to have friends that are willing to share their secrets in the kitchen!

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  6. This sounds delicious, definitely adding it to my list of recipes to try ASAP! I'm not sure I'll ever go 100% paleo, but it seems that more and more of the recipes that are tempting me these days are paleo ones...I guess that's a good thing!

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    1. Same here Jess, I don't think I could go 100% paleo either but I believe I'm right now at about 80% and it feels just right. I still love my brown rice, my quinoa and the occasional sugary treat, I don't think I'm ready to give those up (and most of all I don't feel the need to give them up!)

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  7. Hi Mike, your comfort food look extremely good. Thanks for sharing your recipe. Those colourful mini pot look so cute. :))

    Have a great week ahead.

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    1. Thank you Amelia! My mum gave me those mini pots to make Mac&Cheese but I guess I've put them to much better use!

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  8. In your recipe it says to add onions & garlic in the meat sauce but in the recipe you don't mention either under the meat preparation. Could you please let me know the amounts necessary? Can't wait to make this... thank you for sharing such a healthy option to a wonderful dish!

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    1. Thank you Katie for noticing that. I've just corrected the mistake and do hope that there are no further typos :)
      Let me know how you like this paleo version of moussaka when you actually cook it!

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  9. Made this last night and it turned out well, though I should of bought lean lamb mince as it was a bit greasy. I though the almond milk worked better than cows milk.

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    1. I'm with you with the almond milk. As to lamb, as it tends to be grease I've added a note to drain off some of the fat after cooking it!

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  10. You said its best if prepared the day before, how should you reheat it or is it better served cool?

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    1. Definitely reheat it and eat it warm. Especially when it's cold outside it's always better to enjoy a warm meal!

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  11. The sauce says one clove garlic, is this a whole clove? Or should it be minced?

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    1. It should be minced; look in the ingredients list ;-)

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  12. I meant in the bechamal sauce, it just says one clove garlic. I minced it anyway and it turned out wonderfully, so I guess I was correct. :)

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    1. Oh, Ok...I actually put it whole because then you blend everything so it doesn't really matter.
      Anyway, what really matters is that you liked the moussaka. Awesome!

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  13. Waaaay too much cinnamon - couldn't taste much else - but otherwise great recipe!

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    1. You should definitely use less (as mentioned in the recipe)

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  14. yummmy!! i had some stuff on hand and made this with an extra layer of potato, and it was fabulous! brilliant idea with the cauliflower sub for bechamel!

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  15. This is in the oven right now. I follow the recipe as exactly as written, but I usually adjust the milk to match the cauliflower (I use the whole head). I ADD a dash of nutmeg to the beschemel. This is a delicious recipe and everybody I cook it for loves it too. Thanks for this!!

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  16. In the oven and the fragrance is wonderful. Can't wait to dig in and see how it freezes.

    I made a few changes to the bechamel. I upped the amounts of almond milk and cauliflower and added freshly grated nutmeg and a smidge of paprika. Both spices add a depth of flavour that is just fantastic.

    Thank you and Anastasia for being generous and sharing this recipe :)

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    1. That's awesome Jody! I liked how you tweaked the bechamel recipe, I want to try it myself.

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  17. Mike, I just found this post while searching for creative uses for cauliflower - I do think you take first prize in that category... I am beyond impressed by how many amazing recipes you have for cauliflower. I LOVE moussaka but almost never make it because I love the size of my hips even more. But this version... WOW.

    Thanks! shall pin it right away!

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  18. At what temperature do you bake the moussaka? 350?

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  19. This Greek girl is completely intrigued!! Will be putting this on next week's menu ;).

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