Weekend Cuisine: Sweet Potato Moussaka!

One of the best ways to ‘visit’ a country is through their cuisine right? I would love to visit Greece someday and since travel is out of the picture for now, might us well familiarise myself with what I will be ordering when I get there! LOL!

The first time I had moussaka was in my uni days, and I fell in love with this delicious layered dish of potatoes, eggplant, mince and a white sauce on top that’s baked till brown and ooh, you have to try it to believe it!

This was my first attempt to make this dish and I did differ a bit from the original. I combined different moussaka recipes online to work with what I had on hand. Also, I didn’t fry the vegetables, I baked them instead. And I used sweet potato instead of usual Irish potato; the meal is still delicious so let’s get started.

Ingredients: one medium sweet potato, I courgette, three small eggplants, one chopped onion, three loves of garlic chopped, two chopped tomatoes, 1 tbsp tomato paste a pinch of dried oregano and dried thyme (if you have fresh the better), I stick of cinnamon, 2 bay leaves, three cloves and one nutmeg, 500 g beef mince, salt and pepper to taste.

You can get started with the mince first. In a large saucepan, heat some oil then add the mince and cook till brown.

Break the clumps and let the meat cook to a dry mix.
Add the onions and mix well till they soften, then add the cinnamon, cloves, bay leaves and oregano. Mix well.
The aroma is so good at this point. Add the tomato paste and tomatoes, cover and let the tomatoes cook completely. You can reduce the heat at this point and let the meat cook slowly till the sauce almost dries.

NOTE; You can add a cup of red wine to the meat mixture of you like, it really deepens the flavour of the meat 🙂

As the meat cooks, you can be baking the vegetables.

Peel and slice your sweet potatoes, toss in some olive oil and thyme, salt and pepper and bake in a 200 degree Celsius oven till ready.
Do the same with the eggplant and courgette.
I added some sliced onion too but it’s not a must.

You can get started on your bechamel sauce at this point. I am no white sauce expert but I am happy with my attempt at this smoothness folks! Here is a nice recipe for the béchamel sauce.

Once sauce is almost ready, add black pepper, grated nutmeg, and salt. Remove from heat.
Add your egg yolks and cheese and mix well. I only had cheddar cheese and it worked ok.
You can mix in a bit of the sauce into the meat mixture. Decadent people, decadent!

Now it is time to start layering the dish.

Get your oven proof dish ready and begin by layering the sweet potatoes at the bottom.

Then add part of the mince mixture.

Try to make it an even layer then add the vegetables.
Yeah, a bit messy I know!
Add the remaining mince mixture and layer evenly on the vegetables.
Add the remaining bechamel sauce as the top layer, and bake for 40- 50 minutes or until golden brown.
I have no idea why it almost burnt ( I swear I was not engrossed online!) Anyway, let cool for about thirty minutes. It will firm up well and you can slice and serve.
You can have it on it’s own as it is really a compete and filling meal. Though I had mine with some garlicky French beans. Just saute them in some butter, garlic, lemon juice and salt and pepper.

This was not an easy dish to make but the efforts and messy kitchen are WELL WORTH IT!

The leftovers were perfect for breakfast the next morning too! But if you have a really hungry crowd I doubt you’ll have left overs.

Moussaka is an amazing dish to make and savour guys, you need to try it out.