Moussaka With Zucchini

img_4900-1I can recall having Moussaka from as early as my memory takes me. Every Greek home has a version of Moussaka and surely any of you who read my blog on a regular basis also (of course) enjoy Greek food and you’ve likely had a Moussaka.

Moussaka usually is made with slices of fried eggplant layered between an aromatic meat sauce and topped with a creamy Bechamel Sauce. There are also versions of Moussaka that also include slices of potatoes as one of the components.

Again, there’s no right or wrong – just that my family makes it with meat sauce, eggplants and the Bechamel. Back in the early nineties when I was visiting Greece and the “party islands”, I touched upon the non-stop, dance-crazy and sleep-depraved island of Mykonos.

One evening while out with friends, we sought to eat some more traditional Greek food, to get away from the souvlaki, gyro and fast food that was mere fuel for the night’s partying. On that evening, at a taverna near the Catholic church in the main town did I try (and enjoy immensely) a lighter Moussaka. One with zucchini.

The zucchini Moussaka hit the spot in so many ways as I longed for some “home cooking”, I was starving for real food and this lighter version was perfect for that warm and breezy evening in Mykonos.

Years ago I tried to recreate the dish but each time the Moussaka would end up a soggy blob…no doubt the zucchini to blame. Here, that problem is solved with the use of breadcrumbs. Yes, breadcrumbs. Zucchini are full of water and despite frying or cooking them – they still release more water during the baking process.img_4897

The addition of breadcrumbs does the trick, absorbing most of the excess water and ensuring a firm Moussaka that will hold is shape when you cut and place the serving on a plate. Also, I’ve grilled the zucchini (you may still fry them like the eggplant are) to make this a lighter entree.

Much like a Pastitsio, a Moussaka should be made ahead of time so as to allow the layers to settle. The aroma of the baking Moussaka will tempt you to cut into it prematurely. Resist…impatience will leave you with a blob of Moussaka and conversely if you wait, you’ll enjoy a nice discernible piece  of Moussaka will grace yours and your guest’s plates.

Before I get on with the recipe, this dish is definitely a weekend dish. You have three components…the vegetables (zucchini), the meat sauce and your Bechamel. Despite the easy assembly, some time is needed to prep your three components of a Moussaka.

Moussaka With Zucchiniimg_4853-1

(serves 6)

Approx. 2 lbs. of zucchini, sliced lengthwise

1/2 cup of breadcrumbs

4 cups of meat sauce

1 recipe for Bechamel Sauce

1/2 cup of grated Kefalotyri or Romano cheese

9 x 9 inch square baking tray

some olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heated 375 F ovenimg_4850

  1. You may fry your zucchini slices that are seasoned and light dredged in flour or, simple grill the slices on your gas or charcoal grill. Transfer the zucchini to a platter lined with paper towels so as to blot any residual moisture.
  2. Lightly oil the the baking dish and sprinkle half the breadcrumbs on the bottom. Lay half the zucchini slices on top of the breadcrumbs, one slice slightly overlapping the over (another step to hold your Moussaka in place).
  3. Now spread half the meat sauce over the zucchini slices and repeat with another layer with the remaining breadcrumbs, the remaining zucchini slices and remaining meat sauce.
  4. Now top with your Bechamel Sauce and spread it evenly. Sprinkle the top with your grated Kefalotyri cheese. Baked in your pre-heated oven for about 45 – 60 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
  5. Allow the Moussaka to rest for at least 60 minutes before slicing. Serve warm with a Greek salad.img_4899-1

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© 2007-2009 Peter Minakis

© 2009 – 2014,
Peter Minakis

. All rights reserved.

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57 Comments for “Moussaka With Zucchini”

says:

A true classic! I love how you’ve used the breadcrumbs in this to stop the “sogginess” of the zucchini…great thinking! And it looks mighty delicious too!

says:

wow… i didn’t know if you could make this dish again and make it better but this looks amazing. the layers are seriously spaced perfectly. did you measure it? kidding. i’m seriously drooling at that final picture.

says:

Love the idea of this Peter so I will most certainly give it a go. The breadcrumb idea is fantastic as are your pictures!
Yum!

says:

I love this version of moussaka. I’m not all that keen on aubergine but adore courgettes so this really appeals to me. I’ll have to try it out.

says:

I love moussaka yet have never made it. Yours looks fabulous, rich and luscious and delicious! Love the zucchini in place of the eggplant.

says:

As I was reading, I thought zucchini has a lot of water but, of course, you figured that out and remedied it. Fabulous execution – the photos are mouth-watering.

says:

I like this version a lot. Eggplant is one of those veggies I’m “weird” about. I only like it prepared certain ways. I suppose it’s just as well as I tend to get a slight allergic reaction from it (a burning on the tongue). A zucchini one would be up my alley.

I remember as a kid and in my teens, moussaka was this big, trendy, yuppie food. It was at all the upscale potlucks.

says:

aside from baklava, moussaka is the primary reason i wish i was greek. this variation looks absolutely tremendous and drool-worthy and knee-weakening and every other complimentary adjective ever used. :)

says:

This looks amazing. I like moussaka (not with potatoes) but I love the sound of a lighter version!

At some point, can you blog about galaktoboureko? It beats even baklava to be my favourite Greek dessert!

says:

Oh wow Peter, this looks awesome! I’m glad you didn’t put potatoes in it, this looks perfectly satisfying without the extra carbs. I must make this myself, and compare it to my favourite lasagna di melanzane, which is basically the Italian version of the ggplant moussaka!
Thanks for sharing!

says:

You are right, there is no wrong or right, if you like potatoes, which children usually do, you use them or if you like zucchini more then you use zucchini. Personally I love all three ingredients and often use all of them but mostly potatoes and eggplants. Your pictures look great.

says:

I have to admit, that my favorite version of moussaka has always been the zucchini. My mother and aunt always make it either with eggplant, zucchinni and potato or just with zucchini and potato. So I’ve grown up liking the zucchini in there. And the grilling of the vegetables is a great thing too. This moussaka looks really great Peter.

says:

Yassou, I am familiar with musakka made with eggplant in our Turkish cuisine. It’s for the first time I see it made with zucchini and I am quite happy about it, I love zucchini with a passion. Also, use of bechamel sauce makes it irresistable!

says:

I can’t tell you how HUGE my soft spot for moussaka is… and to me the best of them are made with meat sauce.

Love this version. And that photo. Drool-worthy.

says:

moussaka has been on my list for so long. i really, really need to make it. this looks so delicious. i love the banner picture with the boat and the lighthouse! so pretty :)

Luana

says:

Peter, I was so happy to see this and the beautiful pictures! I made it 2 years ago at Easter and it got rave reviews. I love eggplant, and I also really love the zucchini moussaka. It’s wonderful in its own way.

says:

Peter, I wonder if salting and pressing a stack of zuchini would take the water out of it; much like we do with eggplant before we fry it? On the other hand, I would probably put breadcrums on my cereal in the morning so maybe that’s good enough!

says:

I know you said it serves 6 – but I’m pretty sure with a good bottle of wine that would serve just 2 of us. Yum…. Good call on the bread crumbs! I make zucchini lasagna that I think could benefit from that trick as well.

says:

At my first job as a cook in the late 70’s in Aspen, my job was to make the moussaka. I think it was the first time I ever tried it. Loved it then, still do. Made several sheet pans nightly.
LL
Want to try it with zucchini!

says:

What a breathtaking dish, Peter. I tried to make a zucchini lasagna once, but like you say, it releases a lot of water making it soggy. Great thinking with the bread crumbs. I will try it like this next time.

says:

Wow, I’m going to go veggie on this and will let you know how it went, Peter!

A loves such dishes, but most that are available are meat-based. So, will go Marinara on this?

says:

I love the use of the zucchini and it gives me a fantastic idea on what to do with the ones growing fast in my garden. I am loving that cheesy top…talk about a slice of heaven. Yum!

says:

I really like the sound of a zucchini moussaka! Good call on adding the bread crumbs to absorb some of the moisture. That slice looks perfectly cut and yet still nice and moist.

Laura Hadden

says:

This looks awesome! I’m on an iPad and cannot find your meat sauce recipe. The links are not working for me at all. I was able to find your be bechamel sauce but not the meat. Can you help? Thanks!

Carmel

says:

Made this a while ago, and it was amazing – probably the best Moussaka I have ever made (or tasted). Thank you so much! As we have a family reunion coming up this weekend, I was planning to make it again, but had the same problem – links to the Meat Sauce and also the Béchamel will not come up. Please help, I am desperate!!! Thank you again, Peter.

says:

Carmel, some of my recipes were pulled off the blog as they now appear in my cookbook. You may purchaase a hard copy or electronic version off of Amazon. Thank you for your kind words, hope you’ll buy the book.

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