Meet Mark

Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

Tell Me More
Stay Connected
October 29, 2011

Primal Moussaka

By Worker Bee
102 Comments

Inspired by Greek Moussaka, the flavors in this casserole of layered eggplant and ground meat might sound a little unusual, but it’s a mild dish that’s likely to appeal to everyone at the table. Plus, it’s one of those great meals that taste even better the next day. Overnight, the flavors meld together even more, the texture tastes richer and while the casserole is good hot, it’s not so bad cold, either. Primal Moussaka is the type of dish you’re going to want to eat a few forkfuls of right out of the fridge before warming the rest up.

The silky texture of the eggplant and the warm, savory flavors of cinnamon, allspice and fresh dill mixed in with the meat mimic the taste of the traditional Greek casserole. But there’s a lot that’s different, too. The cheese sauce thickened with flour that tops traditional Moussaka has been replaced with full-fat Greek yogurt that bakes into a surprisingly creamy and dense topping. The trick is mixing the yogurt with eggs and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. There’s a little bit of chopped kale thrown into the casserole (optional, but really tasty) and although the meat can be ground lamb, it doesn’t have to be. The result is a version of Moussaka that actually tastes a little like lasagna, minus the noodles.

Intrigued? Give the recipe a try tonight!


4-6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 large eggplants, peeled (optional) and cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 bunch of kale, chewy lower stems cut off
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed or chopped
  • 1 pound ground meat (lamb is traditional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup full-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • olive oil, for sautéing
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions:

Salting the eggplant is optional, but it will draw out moisture and prevent the eggplant slices from soaking up so much oil. After peeling (optional) and slicing the eggplant, place the slices in a colander. Sprinkle the slices liberally with kosher salt. Let the slices sit for 20-30 minutes until moisture appears on the surface. Rinse the eggplant thoroughly and blot dry.

Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add several slices of eggplant to the hot oil at a time and sauté the eggplant slices, turning as necessary, until soft and just lightly browned. Continue heating oil and cooking the eggplant until all the slices are cooked. Set the eggplant aside.

Boil the kale for 3 minutes. Puree the kale with the tomatoes and 1/2 cup of water in a food processor.

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan over medium heat and add onion and garlic. Saute a few minutes then add meat, cinnamon and allspice. Stir, so the meat browns evenly. After five minutes add the dill and the tomato mixture.

Simmer until the sauce thickens, about 30 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

As the meat cooks, whisk together eggs, yogurt and nutmeg.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a lightly oiled 2-quart square baking dish, place a thin layer of eggplant then cover with the meat. Layer the remaining eggplant on top, then the yogurt. Top with additional grate cheese if desired.

Bake 45 minutes, or until the top is set and golden brown. Let rest 20 minutes before cutting into the Moussaka.


Subscribe to the Newsletter

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!

Leave a Reply

102 Comments on "Primal Moussaka"

avatar

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
George
George
4 years 10 months ago

Moussaka is one of my favorite things to eat, and I haven’t had it in a while. Thanks for this awesome Primal version, definitely going to be in my family’s recipe collection!

Debra
4 years 10 months ago

Coincidentally, I have been looking for just this recipe: no flour needed to make the traditional bechemel sauce and no potatoes. Thanks for making it easy.

Michael C
Michael C
4 years 10 months ago

This looks great. I actually make lasagna using eggplant slices instead of pasta. I brush them with olive oil and broil them instead of frying them though. The results are pretty similar.

Abel James
4 years 10 months ago

We made primal eggplant parm a few weeks ago and I’m not sure it agrees with me. Not to open up a can of worms, but how do people feel about nightshades and eggplant in particular?

deb
4 years 10 months ago

I find nightshades don’t agree with me much: joint pain is my primary symptom of having had too much. I find I can tolerate small amounts, though. Not sure if this would qualify as a small enough amount for me.

Hilary
Hilary
4 years 10 months ago

Yea, definitely stay away from the nightshades as much as possible. I find they upset my stomach, making it feel “acidic”, so to say. For example, I use to love red peppers, but the last time I ate some (I did this over a full week so as to make sure it was the peppers and nothing else), I ended up with a stomach ache and fellings of a panic attack. Weird, I know…

montgomerygirl
montgomerygirl
4 years 8 months ago

would you mind giving me the eggplant parm recipe or direct me to the website? Thanks

Peggy The Primal Parent
4 years 10 months ago

My mom used to fry eggplant like in your picture. mmmm, good memories. Fried eggplant is amazing all by itself. I’m sure it’s great in a primal casserole too!

Arty
Arty
4 years 10 months ago

Sorry to be a party pooper but…YIKES!
That doesn’t even look appetizing.
Perhaps I should try it once before judging so quickly…but..dayum…

Jon Griffith
4 years 8 months ago

OMG…this is sooo good. You have to try it.

S.
S.
3 years 8 months ago

OMG it’s amazing, you have to try it.

Diane
Diane
4 years 10 months ago

Haven’t had moussaka in ages — will be trying it soon. I really like the idea of yogurt topping.

Kathleen
4 years 10 months ago

Thank you so much for posting this! My boyfriend’s heritage is Greek and he loves when I cook any Greek foods (still trying to find a Primal version of Baklava! I think it might be impossible). This looks excellent – thanks!

Michael B
4 years 4 months ago

Let me know when you find primal baklava!

Missy
Missy
4 years 2 months ago

Honey-tree make sugar-free honey which might help. But you have to buy a case.

peggy
peggy
4 years 10 months ago
I made something similar to this last week – but no yoghurt topping. I did a casserole with everything in my CSA box (kale, cabbage, onion, etc) & baked with ground veal. seasoned with various indian spices… As to Abel James nightshade query, I’m personally on the fence about them. I don’t go out & buy them on a regular basis – I just happen to get an eggplant or pepper in my CSA box periodically. I have some canned tomatoes I use for adding to dishes. I don’t buy fresh toms at the store anymore because they have no… Read more »
Abel James
4 years 10 months ago

Interesting, thanks Peggy. I love tomatoes personally, but eggplant seems to be a different beast. If it’s an acquired taste, perhaps I shouldn’t make the effort to acquire it. 🙂

Karen
Karen
4 years 10 months ago

I’d love to cook more with eggplant, but my husband says it always tastes bitter to him. He’s usually gracious about trying everything, and has a diverse and growing palate, but this is different. After trying it 8-10 times, he insists it’s too bitter for him to like. I’ve never noticed this taste and have no idea what he’s talking about. Any clues?

Shari
Shari
4 years 10 months ago

Try salting the eggplant first. Older eggplants can be quite bitter (brown seeds are a sign of bitterness.) Salt liberally and allow to drain for at least a hour. This forces the bitter liquid from the eggplant and will improve taste significantly.

Molaina
Molaina
4 years 8 months ago

I also think eggplants have a bitter taste, but not when I do what Karen says. It DOES take the bitterness off the eggplant 🙂

craig
craig
4 years 10 months ago

As per Shari’s comment, it is usually the older eggplants/aubergines that are bitter. Salting does help but in fact it is not the best solution as there will always be a bitter remnant. It is always best to by young eggplants. Our grocer often has baby eggplants which are fantastic when roasted. Get your husband to try some of the other middle eastern eggplant dishes – preferably those made from roasted eggplant eg Imam bayildi. I have found the biggest resistance to eggplant is to the classic fried option but resistance fails when tasting roasted young spicey fruit.

Milla
4 years 10 months ago

To get rid of light bitterness, shock the eggplant in boiling water and then transfer to ice cold water. However, try getting smaller eggplants. The bigger they are, the soapier and more bitter they taste.

Jeremy
Jeremy
4 years 10 months ago

It’s the seeds thats making the eggplant bitter. Get a really nice grill on the whole eggplant. Like 40-50 mins until the burnt skin cracks off. then peel off the skin being careful not to burn yourself and pull out as many of the seeds as you can as if you were peeling them off tentacles of an octopus. then slice and heavily salt (can be rinsed later)the eggplant will then have a sweet and smokey flavor.

Julie
Julie
4 years 10 months ago

We’re having a snowstorm on the East Coast. I knew when I saw this recipe this morning I would make it today. Didn’t have lamb, so I subbed ground chicken and whole Muir Glen tomatoes instead of diced. Roasted, rather than friend the eggplant. Absolutely delicious. Can’t wait to try it with lamb next time.

trackback

[…] = 'none'; document.getElementById('singlemouse').style.display = ''; } Primal Moussaka var topsy_style = 'big'; var topsy_nick = ''; var topsy_order = 'count,badge,retweet'; var […]

Dan
Dan
4 years 10 months ago

This sounds awesome, I know I am going to make that this week. I have most of the minor ingredients, so I’m pretty good to go.

Eugenia
4 years 10 months ago

I’m Greek, and I have a Paleo/Primal recipe of moussaka too on my blog, based on the original Greek recipe. The flavor is 95% the same as with the moussaka my mother cooks in Greece, because I used (wheat-free) bechamel instead of yoghurt. Mark’s version looks good too though. 🙂

J3nn
4 years 10 months ago

Gah! The béchamel sauce is the best part of moussaka!! I’d rather use a innocuous starch like tapioca or arrowroot to thicken instead of yogurt.

amy
amy
4 years 10 months ago

you know, 90% of the time i’m in heaven eating primally. i’m pretty happy giving up boring “american” foods, but when i am reminded of middle eastern, asian, and mexican foods and i’m DONE. i went on a 4 day all-mexican spree last week (i actually had to force myself to shut that streak off, cos i woulda just kept going) and then went nuts at a greek restaurant. man, am i stoked to see some primal varieties of ethnic foods. keep ’em coming!!!

Michael B
4 years 4 months ago

I have yet to find a good primal replacement for tortilla chips or other adequate vehicle for salsa. 🙁 Of course you can put it on meat, but when I’m craving salsa as a snack, I fall for these: http://www.gowaybetter.com/our-better-stuff/sweet-chili/. I know it’s bad!

Michael B
4 years 3 months ago

The best I’ve found now is Terra chips. Sweet potato and salsa go surprisingly well together. It has that sweet taste and carby texture that you want with salsa. The exotic root vegetable mix is also good. The only problem is they’re cooked in “canola and/or sunflower and/or safflower oil”. The search continues! I may just have to make my own!

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
4 years 3 months ago

I’d love to find out what you wind up doing. Chips are my major weakness!

alley cat
alley cat
4 years 10 months ago

Instead of the yoghurt you could use a 50:50 mix of sour cream and ricotta cheese. It thickens beautifully and my kids go nuts over it in a (zucchini) lasagne.

Lance
Lance
4 years 10 months ago

Just finished a plate full of this. Made it just as it said. It was delicious. Thanks for the recipe. Keep more like this coming!

Long live Grok!

trackback

[…] Mark’s Daily Apple This entry was posted in Health and tagged Moussaka, Primal by admin. Bookmark the permalink. […]

Per Wikholm
4 years 10 months ago

We often make greek food, the favorite beeing papotsakia (meaning “little shoe”. It’s basically the same ingedients as in this recepie, only difference is that you cut the eggplant in half, long side and preboil it in salty water.

Here in Sweden we are blessed with access to full fat (34%) sour cream making it easy do do a good Low Carb/Paleo style bechamel sauce. Just mix with grated cheese, some nutmeg and white pepper.

Gydle
4 years 10 months ago

YUM! what a coincidence – I just came home yesterday with 10 kilos of organic grassfed beef, some of which is in ground beef form. I also have a batch of grilled sliced eggplant in the freezer … and a huge tub of greek yogurt in the fridge. Now I know what to do with all of it!

deb
4 years 10 months ago

I think I’ll have to try this with perhaps a zucchini /summer squash base instead of eggplant. Our nightshade tolerance here isn’t so good.

Might be interesting to experiment with sweet potatoes as they’d probably work with the cinnamon and allspice. Wouldn’t be proper moussaka but at least another direction to experiment in.

Another question: would the yogurt not separate? Any time I’ve used yogurt as a topping before baking, it always separates. Maybe as ricotta as someone else suggested…..

Suze
Suze
4 years 10 months ago

I am, without a doubt, making this, this week! I want to make it today, but we are going out for dinner with the M-I-L tonight, and I have to travel for work Mon-Tues. But Weds or Thurs, YEAH. I love Moussaka (or as the little girl on My Big Fat Greek Wedding said, Moose Caca! lol) and this looks wonderful! Thanks so much!

Emily Mekeel
Emily Mekeel
4 years 10 months ago

LOVE Greek food. Can’t wait!!! I still have some grocery money left for this week….

Ann
Ann
4 years 10 months ago

I made this last night – it was delish!! I used chard instead of kale as that what was available. It did turn out with a lot of liquid even after simmering the sauce for a long time. Do you have any suggestions for that? I will be making this again!

T Hut
T Hut
4 years 10 months ago

Make sure your pan is shallow and wide to offer as much evaporation as possible. Perhaps don’t add any water during the puree part of the recipe.

Heather
Heather
4 years 10 months ago

I am making this today with a topping of pureed cauliflower, yogurt, eggs and goat cheese.

Jamie
Jamie
4 years 10 months ago

Ooh, sounds good – how did it turn out??

Meagan
4 years 10 months ago

Oh my goodness! This looks so good. I think eggplant is gross + it’s a nightshade, so I will attempt this with zucchini instead. LOOKS DELICIOUS!

Licia Harry
Licia Harry
4 years 10 months ago

Made this tonight, it was delicious!! Very yum, even got the picky boy to eat it. Thanks, Mark!

Sotiri
Sotiri
4 years 10 months ago

Opa, being Greek this is my favourite dish. My fiancee made a primal version earlier this year using kefalotiri cheese as the topping and very little egg plant. K??? ????? (bon appetite) !!

T Hut
T Hut
4 years 10 months ago

Made something very similar but used whole milk ricotta in place of the greek yogurt. Delicious

Stephanie
Stephanie
4 years 10 months ago

Oh, the joy of having an eggplant in the refrigerator that was just waiting for the right recipe. The only change I made was just chopping the kale finely, and adding it raw to the sauce, without the extra water. It cooked while the sauce simmered and thickened. We just finished eating this for dinner, and it was absolutely delicious! Thanks for such a good recipe!

Franco
Franco
4 years 10 months ago

If you’re already using a nightshade, potato starch with yoghurt, egg and cheese will give it a more bechamel-like structure. That’s how I do it anyways.
I also don’t mind a few potatoes like in the original as well.
Btw, where’s the oregano?
If I learned one thing in greece it is no meal without oregano (except you’re from crete, then mint will do it).
They even have oregano flavoured potato chips there!

Amyamm
Amyamm
4 years 10 months ago

Anybody have an idea for a tomato substitute in this recipe? I can’t eat them.

Jillian
4 years 10 months ago

I made this last night to kick off the 21 day challenge. My only substitution was chopped frozen spinach for the kale. It was absolutely delicious, and my extremely picky boyfriend even ate seconds.

Keith
Keith
3 months 29 days ago

That was my plan, too. I am not a big kale fan, but I with throw spinach in mostly anything.

Dan
Dan
4 years 10 months ago

Just made this, it was so great! I loaded it up with pitted olives that I bought at a fresh olive bar. It really made the difference!

I also used a combination of Lamb and Veal for the meat. Gotta love two meats.

Tom Parker
4 years 10 months ago

Looks tasty :-). I tried cooking the beef and pumpkin recipe last week and it was fantastic. Think I will give this a try at some point this week.

John
John
4 years 10 months ago

Made this two nights ago with double lamb. It is out of this world!
Thanks Mark!

Marc
Marc
4 years 10 months ago

Thank you so much for this recipe , I made it tonight for dinner and it turned out great, the rest of the tribe loved it too!

Dave Lammon
Dave Lammon
4 years 10 months ago

I made this and it looks exactly like the recipe. A little work but really nice dish.

Lirak
Lirak
4 years 10 months ago

Moussaka is definitely one of my favorite dishes. We’ve been traditionally eating this dish throughout the years here in the Balkans. I’d only recommend slightly changing the ingredients, and instead of using eggplant, try leeks..it is amazingly delicious..at least that’s how we make moussaka here in the Balkans.

Kat
4 years 10 months ago

Thank you! I tried making this once, but skipped the bechemel entirely, so it was just lamb and eggplant. It was good, but no substitute for the real thing. This looks alot more authentic.

Shilpa Nicodemus
Shilpa Nicodemus
4 years 10 months ago
I made this tonight. It was kinda bland, but still pretty good. Definitely drain as much liquid as you can from the tomato-beef mixture. Baking took 50 minutes at 350; I think the yogurt I used wasn’t fattening enough, so there was more liquid that needed to bake off so that the moussaka could set. I’d like to make this again, but it took way too long to make (1 hour and 40 minutes prep time, doesn’t include the 50 minutes in the oven). Part of the problem was the sauteeing of the eggplant. Has anyone tried just throwing the… Read more »
Laura B
Laura B
4 years 10 months ago

I made this last night and it was delicious! Of course I’ve never had real moussaka so I can’t compare.

The only thing I did different was to use a can of tomato paste because I only had one tomato. It was a heavy dish, but very satisfying.

I’m about to have it again for lunch!

Edwin
Edwin
4 years 10 months ago

My wife and I love fried eggplant. I like the idea of this recipe. Is there a way to replace dairy products to something else? She is allergic to dairy and tomatoe. Any suggestion?

Roland
Roland
4 years 10 months ago

The yoghurt/egg topping is the standard recipe in Bulgaria. Actually there is no cheese needed at all (Bulgarians alomost exclusively use feta cheese anyway -> and that goes into the salad).

But to get the real balkanese taste you need the mixed herbs “Tschubritza” 😉
Words cannot describe them.

Scott
Scott
4 years 10 months ago

Made this for dinner last night and it was amazing. Added a little extra cinnamon to bump up the flavor, but other than that followed the recipe to the letter.

This morning we warmed up the leftovers and it was even better!!

Jacqdav
Jacqdav
4 years 10 months ago

Made this with venison mince and it was fantastic. Much leaner than lamb and adds a lovely depth of flavour. YUM!

Tammy
Tammy
4 years 10 months ago

I made this last night but used slabs of zucchini instead of eggplant because I *hate* eggplant. It was divine. And my non-veggie eaters didn’t even notice the snuck-in kale. WIN.

kerry
kerry
4 years 10 months ago

i tried this on the weekend, it is divine. I didn’t have any kale so i used grated zuccini.

MarcTheEngineer
MarcTheEngineer
4 years 9 months ago

Tried it… Didn’t particularly like it

The sauteing of the eggplant was a real chore as well… I think I would broil them if I ever tried this again.

Sophia
Sophia
2 years 9 months ago

Try cutting up smaller pieces of eggplant, that is what I did and it was easy to sauté them all together and it came out great.

wpDiscuz