Moussaka is quite a dish! It’s a delicious layered casserole that contains layers of eggplant, a hearty meat sauce, and a cheesy white sauce topping the whole thing off. I’ve made a vegan recipe in the past from the Veganomicon cookbook. Unfortunately, there were plenty of non-compliant ingredients including tofu and bread crumbs. Of course I had to adjust the recipe to fit Whole 30 guidelines. So, I took parts of the beloved Veganomicon recipe and combined it with this traditional Moussaka recipe I found at mygreekdish.com. This recipe is definitely a labor of love but in my opinion it’s worth the effort. I wanted to start Whole 30 with a hearty dish made with love so this was the first recipe I made for day 1 of my Whole 100.
Whole 30 Moussaka
2-3 pounds of eggplant (two large or 3 medium eggplants)
Olive oil for drizzling
1.5 pounds of ground meat- I used lamb but any combination of ground beef, ground pork or ground turkey will work
1- 28ounce can crushed tomatoes
4 shallots peeled and sliced thinly
3 cloves of garlic finely minced
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon ground all-spice
1 bay leaf
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
Whole 30 Béchamel:
1 package of frozen cauliflower
1 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
½ cup pine nuts plus a few more for sprinkling.
1 clove garlic
Pinch of nutmeg
6 Tablespoon coconut milk
1 large egg
Kitchen equipment needed:
9″ x 13″ Glass casserole dish- I have this Pyrex
1 large skillet
1 medium saucepan
Food processor or blender- I have this Kitchen Aid food processor and love it.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Wash and trim off the stem end of the eggplants. Slice the eggplant into ¼ inch round slices. Rub the slices in some salt and place in the colander in the sink or on top of large bowl to drain. Allow the eggplant to drain for 15 minutes. After the 15 minutes rinse the eggplant with cold water and pat the slices dry with a paper towel or two.
- While the eggplants are draining, make the meat sauce. Heat the skillet on the stove over medium-high heat and add a small amount of olive oil. Start by sautéing the shallots for 1-2 minutes or until slightly softened. Add the minced garlic and sauté for an additional. Add the ground meat and cook until browned until the center is no longer pink. Drain the grease from the pan. Add in the crushed tomatoes. Cinnamon, oregano, allspice, bay leaf, and vinegar. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the eggplant rounds on the baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Rub the olive oil into each slice to make sure they are coated evenly. It’s okay if the slices overlap a bit. You may have to roast the eggplant in 2-3 batches. Place sheet into the preheated oven and roast the eggplant for 15 minutes.
- While the eggplants are roasting prepare the Béchamel. Start by boiling some salted water on the stove over high heat. Once boiling add in the frozen cauliflower and simmer 5-7 minutes. Drain the cauliflower well and cool. Once cool enough to handle, squeeze as much access water out of the cauliflower as you are able to. In the meantime, blend the pine nuts and lemon juice in the food processor scraping down the sides every minute or so until a creamy paste forms. Add in the cauliflower, garlic clove, salt, nutmeg, and coconut milk to the food processor until sauce is smooth and even. Add in the egg and blend quickly until the sauce comes together.
- Brush the 9” x 13” baking dish with a little olive oil. Layer the eggplant on the bottom of the dish, trying to get a nice flat, even base layer. Top the eggplant with the meat sauce then top the meat sauce layer with the Béchamel sauce. Spread the Béchamel evenly over the top while trying not to disturb the meat sauce. Sprinkle the top of the Moussaka with a few pine nuts.
- Place the casserole in the 400 degree F oven and bake for approximately 35-40 minutes until the top is slightly browned. Let the Moussaka cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing it.
I know that pine nuts are one of the “limit” types of nuts/seeds according to Whole 30, but since they aren’t forbidden I used them in the Béchamel sauce. I love the taste of the pine nuts. There might be another type of nut which you can substitute- maybe macadamia nuts- but you will have to experiment with that on your own. If you have any other suggestions for other nuts to substitute comment below. I’d love to hear what you come up with.
* Make it vegetarian: Omit the step where you add the meat from the red sauce but add all other ingredients as listed. If you want the Moussaka to be a bit more hearty you can additionally roast some thinly sliced russet potatoes like in the Veganomicon recipe.
Slice the potato, lengthwise, into approximately 1/4 inch thick slices. Toss to coat the potato with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, making sure each piece is completely coated with oil. Spread vegetables out with minimal overlapping. Roast the potatoes for about 22 minutes, until edges are lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool. Then layer them on the bottom of the casserole dish and layer the eggplant and sauces as listed in the directions above in step 5.