When my family goes to Greek restaurants, my husband often orders authentic Greek moussaka. Have you ever tried it? Imagine a cross between shepherd's pie and eggplant parmesan. Amazingly delicious, but not something I can eat more than a bit of since it’s not gluten or dairy free.
A traditional Greek moussaka recipe is made of layers of greasy ground lamb and sliced eggplant sautéed in olive oil. The whole thing is then covered in a thick layer of bechamel sauce. Bechamel sauce is made from flour, milk, and butter – three things I have to avoid due to my food sensitivities.
Thus I was inspired to create an easy and healthy moussaka recipe to serve at home with a gluten free and dairy free bechamel sauce. I hope you like it as much as we did.
Creating a simple moussaka recipe that’s healthy, too
To health up the moussaka, I first changed the ground meat that’s used in an authentic Greek moussaka. I thought a ground turkey moussaka recipe would be less greasy than one using ground lamb. And it would be just as delicious especially when combined with lots of chopped vegetables like peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, and onions.
I used McCormick Greek Seasoning and fresh basil to punch up the flavors. If you don’t have any Greek seasoning, use 1 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano and 1 1/2 teaspoon dried basil instead.
I also cut back on the amount of eggplant I used in this easy Greek moussaka recipe since it has to be cooked in quite a bit of olive oil. I love sautéed eggplant. Even though olive oil is healthy, it does add a great deal of calories!
Serve this healthy moussaka recipe in a 9x13-inch stoneware casserole dish. Invest in a few pretty stoneware casserole dishes so you can serve the moussaka right at the table!
Making gluten free bechamel sauce
The key to this yummy Greek dish is making a dairy free and gluten free bechamel sauce recipe. I loved using rice milk added a sweet flavor to the bechamel sauce. You could also use unsweetened soy milk or a unsweetened lite coconut milk.
I can tolerate cheese in my diet, but not butter. So I was OK using cheese in the turkey moussaka recipe I made for my family (as shown in the pictures). However, if you’re dairy free, omit the Reggiano-Parmesan or use a vegan substitute.
A note on buttery spreads. I personally like I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter as it’s soft and easy to measure right out of the refrigerator. However, it does have a teeny bit of milk in it. (I can tolerate it.) If you’re vegan or need to be 100% dairy free, use something like Earth Balance Buttery Spread instead.
RICE DREAM Classic Original Organic Rice Drink, 32 Fluid Ounce (Pack of 12)Silk Unsweetened Organic Soymilk, 32-Ounce Aseptic Cartons (Pack of 6)Native Forest Organic Light Coconut Milk, Reduced Fat, 13.5-Ounce Cans (Pack of 12)
Healthy Moussaka with Gluten Free Bechamel Sauce
- Olive oil
- 1 large eggplant, thinly sliced
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1 orange pepper, seeded and chopped
- 2 cups sliced crimini mushrooms
- 1 1/2 pounds lean ground turkey
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can fire roasted chopped tomatoes, drained of juice
- 3 teaspoons McCormick Greek Seasoning
- 3 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2/3 cup grated Reggiano-Parmesan (optional or use a vegan substitute)
- Fresh Basil, chopped for garnish
For gluten free béchamel sauce:
- 4 cups rice milk
- 1/2 cup buttery spread
- 1/2 cup gluten free multipurpose flour
- Salt to taste
- Ground white pepper to taste
- Heat a large frying pan over medium high heat adding enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Place slices of eggplant in the pan and fry each side for 3-4 minutes until golden brown and softened. Remove slices and place on a paper towel covered plate. Cover with more paper towels and set aside. (Repeat with next layer of cooked eggplant.) Cook the rest of the eggplant slices in batches.
- Heat a little olive oil in the same frying pan over medium high heat and cook the onions, peppers, and mushrooms for 8-10 minutes until softened. Remove from pan and set aside.
- Add the ground turkey to the frying pan and cook, breaking up the meat with your spoon or spatula, until the turkey is browned. Carefully drain any water in the frying pan after turkey is fully cooked.
- Add the cooked vegetables to the frying pan. Stir in the garlic cloves, tomato paste, chopped tomatoes, Greek seasonings, and Worcestershire sauce. Mix to combine and cook for 5 minutes.
- Remove frying pan from stove and set aside.
- Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Prepare béchamel sauce.
- Place half of the meat and vegetable mixture in a 9x13 casserole dish.
- Cover with a layer of half of the cooked eggplant.
- Cover with the remaining meat mixture, then a layer of the remaining cooked eggplant slices.
- If using, sprinkle Reggiano-Parmesan cheese evenly over the last layer.
- Then gently pour the béchamel sauce over the entire dish and carefully smooth out with a spatula if needed.
- Cook moussaka in the oven for 45 minutes until bubbly and the top begins to brown.
- Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes.
- Sprinkle with chopped basil and serve.
For gluten free béchamel sauce:
- Pour rice milk into a saucepan and bring to nearly boiling over medium high heat. Lower temperature, but keep rice milk hot and steamy!
- Melt buttery spread in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Whisk in the gluten free flour. The melted butter and gluten free flour will form a paste.
- Pour in the hot rice milk by the 1/2 cup, whisking constantly until the sauce thickens and bubbles.
- Turn off heat and season with salt and white pepper to taste.
- Serving size: 1/6 to 1/8 of recipe
Originally published on February 24, 2014. Updated with new pictures and information.