Low Carb Greek Moussaka with Lamb Ragù. 11g net carbs for a complete meal that includes plenty of healthy vegetables.
During my frequent holidays in Greece or Cyprus, the dish I was most looking forward to savour was moussaka. Hands down the most satisfying thing I could have. So yummy. Layers of meat, vegetables and cheesy béchamel sauce that were highly reminiscent of my all-time Italian favourite, lasagna. Even the waiters at my favourite restaurants knew what I would order when they saw me. Cold Meze? Tick. Moussaka? Tick. Baklava dessert? Tick. Sparkling water? Tick. All together a massively high-carb feast. But oh, so enjoyable.
So now I have created a healthy, Low Carb Greek Moussaka with Lamb Ragù that is almost an exact replica. But with the only carbohydrates being those in aubergines (eggplant). Ketofied to perfection and incredibly delicious. And as usual, very simple to make.
Traditional Moussaka v Low Carb Moussaka
The classic recipe for Moussaka consists of layers of potatoes and aubergines, sandwiched between lamb mince and white sauce.
Greek chefs insist that frying the aubergines after coating them in egg and breadcrumbs is what makes the moussaka truly come alive. But I disagree. I’m never a fan of frying anyway, because heating oils to a high temperature isn’t a healthy option, no matter which oil is used. In my opinion, a good ragù, made with high quality lamb mince is what differentiates a great moussaka from a mediocre one.
Potatoes indeed add corpulence to moussaka, but they’re as keto-friendly as white sugar, so they have no place in the low-carb world. Instead of potatoes, my Low Carb Greek Moussaka with Lamb Ragù uses extra aubergines. I cannot disagree that potato-less moussaka lacks a bit of chunkiness. But that’s a small sacrifice for what is a very filling dish anyway.
As for the béchamel (white) sauce, with no milk and no wheat flour to thicken it, you might think that my keto version would turn out a bit rubbish. But nope. It tastes amazing. Not quite a true béchamel, but you won’t notice.
How to Make Low Carb Greek Moussaka with Lamb Ragù
Slow cooking the ragù – also (mistakingly) known as bolognese sauce – for a long time is important. Yes, no doubt you’ve come across plenty of recipes on the net instructing you to cook the ‘bolognese sauce’ for just a few minutes. Utter nonsense. Ragù contains meat. And to release all the flavour of that meat, you need to simmer it for a long time. My Italian nana taught me that when I was a child. But don’t just take my word for it. Any Italian chef will tell you the same. Or even any Italian housewife for that matter. There is no question about it. No shortcuts. No quick methods. In fact, to intensify its flavour, ragù is best made in the morning, then left to cool, then re-heated and used to create an evening meal.
However, even though it requires a long cooking time, ragù is prepped in minutes, so it’s not labour intensive at all. Plus you have the option of making it up to 4 days ahead and it will taste even better. I like to make my ragù in the evening, letting it simmer undisturbed while I watch TV or read a book.
Prepping the aubergines is a simple job. Just top and tail, slice, score, salt and bake for 20 minutes. Done. No messing with salting, waiting, rinsing and drying. And no need for egg, breadcrumbs or hot oils. Scoring and sprinkling salt over the sliced aubergines lets the moisture surface and evaporate as they bake. A simple hack that works every time. And a much healthier option.
The faux-béchamel is also really easy. Just put all the ingredients into a saucepan. Stir and heat until smooth and creamy, and it’s ready to go.
Assembly is a no-brainer. My tip? Do a mock dry-run: place aubergine slices to fit your baking dish, and repeat to see how many layers you can achieve, then you’ll know whether to use 1/3rd or 1/2 of the ragù and béchamel for each layer. Using a 19cm x 26cm Pyrex dish (U.S. option HERE) I get 3 layers in total.
- Yield: 4
- Serving: 1
- Calories: 721
- Fat: 58g
- Net Carbs: 11g
- Protein: 32g
- 250g lamb mince
- 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil (U.S. option HERE)
- ½ TBSP tomato paste (concentrate)
- 250g chopped tomatoes
- 1 garlic clove (minced)
- 1 shallot (minced)
- ¼ tsp fine Himalayan pink salt (U.S. option HERE)
- a sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp nutmeg
- ⅛ tsp cinnamon
- 1/16 tsp cloves
- ½ TBSP Italian herbs seasoning
- 3 bay leaves
- heat olive oil in a small pan, add lamb mince, breaking it up and stirring it, and sauté for a couple of minutes until it's changed colour.
- incorporate all other ingredients, plus 50ml water, and simmer on very low heat, lid on, for 2 hours, stirring occasionally and adding a little more water if becoming too dry.
- pre-heat oven to 200°C static.
- top and tail aubergines, then cut 1cm slices (lengthways); score each slice diagonally with the tip of a sharp knife, place on a baking tray lined with non stick paper and sprinkle a little salt.
- bake for 20 mins, then remove from oven and set aside.
- while the aubergines bake, prepare the cheese sauce by putting crème fraîche, cream, cream cheese, shredded cheddar and xanthan gum in a small pan; whisk and heat until smooth, then set aside.
- when all elements are ready to go, pre-heat oven to 175°C fan (195°C static).
- line a baking dish with sliced aubergines, top with cheese sauce, then ragù; repeat (once or twice, depending on the size of your baking dish) and finish with the grated Parmigiano.
- bake for 30 minutes until the crust is golden brown and caramelised.
- rest for 10 minutes and serve.
I use a Pyrex baking dish (U.S. option HERE).
The best way to ensure accurate measurement of ingredients is with Metric Kitchen Scales. They are inexpensive and take up very little space. Click HERE for the ones I use. For U.S. option click HERE.
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