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Musaca de Cartofi (Potato Moussaka)

Musaca de Cartofi (Potato Moussaka) 6.000

Scott Suchman for the Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

Apr 23, 2021

Cookbook author Irina Georgescu writes in her cookbook “Carpathia: Foods From the Heart of Romania” that this Romanian version of moussaka borrows from the best parts of the Greek and Turkish versions, using sliced potatoes instead of eggplant, a rich meaty tomato-based filling, and a blend of yogurt and cheese on top. Comforting and satisfying, it’s a dish that also tastes as delicious cold the next day as when bubbling hot right out of the oven.

Active time: 1 hour; Total time: 1 hour 30 mins

Storage Notes: Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to three days.

6 - 8

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 6-8 servings

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or sunflower oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions (about 7 ounces each), finely diced
  • 1 large carrot (about 5 ounces), finely diced
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • One (14-ounce) can diced or crushed tomatoes
  • 1 1/4 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 medium russet potatoes (2 pounds total)
  • 3 1/2 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • Generous 1/2 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan


In a 12-inch frying pan over medium heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onions and carrot and cook, stirring, until the onions soften and start to turn translucent, 6 to 7 minutes. Add the pork, tomatoes, tomato sauce and paprika and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced and thickened, about 25 minutes.

While the filling cooks, peel and slice the potatoes into 1/8-inch rounds. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat and blanch the potatoes until just softened, about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a medium bowl, stir together the cheese, yogurt and egg yolks until combined. Set the cheese mixture aside.

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.

Grease a 9-by-9-inch baking dish with a little butter and arrange a third of potatoes in an overlapping layer on the bottom. Dot with small pieces of butter and season lightly with salt and pepper, then spread half of the filling on top. Repeat with another third of the potatoes, butter, salt and pepper, followed by the remaining filling. Finish with remaining potatoes and top with the cheese mixture.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the top begins to brown and bubble, and serve hot.

Recipe Source

Adapted from “Carpathia: Foods From the Heart of Romania” by Irina Georgescu (Interlink, 2020).

Tested by Jim Webster.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving (based on 8): 377

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 21g 32%

Saturated Fat: 9g 45%

Cholesterol: 104mg 35%

Sodium: 253mg 11%

Total Carbohydrates: 31g 10%

Dietary Fiber: 5g 20%

Sugar: 7g

Protein: 17g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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