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One-pot Moussaka beef rice pilaf

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Here’s a great new beef mince recipe to try! Think – Greek Moussaka flavours, in risotto form in a handy one-pot recipe. Eggplant, beef, tomato, lots of garlic and oregano. Cosy. Easy. Satisfying. Utterly delicious!

One-pot Moussaka beef and rice

Think of today’s recipe as a cross between moussaka and risotto. But so much easier to make than both of them!

It channels moussaka vibes with eggplant and beef mince cooked in a red-wine tomato sauce, heavy on the garlic and oregano (Greece approves!). And it’s got the hallmarks of a great risotto, with the juicy, oozy rice. Never stodgy, never mushy.

It’s not authentic anything. But it’s very, very tasty, and a really handy one-pot meal for those times when you want something straightforward to make that’s filling, cosy and a little bit different. Because – what do you mean you’ve never cooked rice with eggplant before?? It works so well! Eggplant is a sponge for flavour. It soaks up all that garlicky, tomatoey, beefy flavour that bursts in your mouth when you bit into a piece!

Ingredients in Moussaka Beef Rice Pilaf

Here’s what you need to make this Moussaka(ish) pilaf:


One eggplant around 20 cm / 8″ long, weighing around 300g/10 oz. It’s fine if it’s a little larger or smaller. I’ve made this with an eggplant 500g/1 lb big and it worked great and increased the volume of the dish.

Other vegetable options – The use of eggplant in this recipe is what gives it moussaka vibes, though you can absolutely use other vegetables. Zucchini (courgettes) immediately springs to mind, being a similar juicy vegetable (be sure to cut them fairly large so they don’t get too soft), as does pumpkin and large pieces of tomato.

For the beef pilaf

Beef – I’m using beef here but lamb is equally as delicious. Chicken, turkey and pork also work but won’t taste as “Greek”! 🙂

Rice –  I like basmati because it has a lovely fragrance that I think suits this dish, and it holds up well to this one-pot style of cooking, unlike, for example, jasmine rice which gets too soft and mushy (in my humble rice-snob opinion). Long grain and medium grain rice can also be used. Short grain rice and sushi rice will work but are not my first choice as they gets a little softer than ideal. Rice to avoid – This recipe as written is not suitable for brown rice, risotto rice, paella rice, wild rice, black rice, quinoa or faux rice (cauliflower rice!). It can be made to work but the recipe will need adjustments to order of cooking, liquid quantities etc.

Chickpeas – I added this at the last minute because it adds some good texture into what is otherwise a big pot of one dimensional soft texture. It also bulks it up using a low-GI starch that will keep you feeling full for longer – win, win!

Garlic – Four big cloves! Greece would have a heart attack if we didn’t use garlic!

Dried oregano – Another ingredient used regularly in Greek cooking.

Onion – Essential flavour base.

Pinot noir or other dry red wine – This will add a touch of extra depth of flavour into the dish, but it’s not the end of the world if you skip it.

Tomato paste and crushed tomato – For good tomatoey flavour!

Chicken stock/broth – Better than water. Low salt please! If you only have full salt, reduce the salt in the dish by 1/2 teaspoon or so.

How to make this one pot beef rice pilaf

Cut the eggplant into 1.5cm / 3/5″ cubes. I don’t peel eggplant because I haven’t encountered bitter skin or flesh issues (largely bred out of modern eggplants). If you are concerned, sprinkle the eggplant with 1/4 teaspoon salt and leave in a colander for 30 minutes to sweat bitterness out. Pat off the excess water then proceed with the recipe.

Sauté the onion and garlic in a large pot, then cook the beef, breaking it up as you go, until you no longer see red.

Bloom flavours – Next, add the oregano and salt and cook the beef for a good minute. This will make the oregano flavour bloom. Then add the tomato paste and cook that for 1 minute too. Don’t shortcut this step! It cooks out the raw sour flavour of tomato paste and sweetens it, as well as adding more flavour into the beef.

Eggplant and rice – Add the eggplant and toss to coat well in all the juicy beef. Mix until all the cubes are coated and change from white to red. Then add the rice and mix it through as well.

Cooking broth – Add the chickpeas, tomato, stock, salt and pepper. Give it a good stir and bring the liquid to a simmer..

Steam rice 20 minutes – Wait until there are bubbles across the entire surface, not just around the edge of the pot. Put the lid on, turn the heat down to medium low (or low, if your stove is strong) and let the rice steam for 20 minutes. No peeking, no stirring!

Rest 10 minutes – At the 20 minute mark, take a quick peek to ensure the liquid has been mostly absorbed. There will still be a layer of thick tomato on the surface which is fine. Take the pot off the stove and let it rest for 10 minutes with the lid on. During this time, the rice will finish cooking and absorb the remaining liquid. Never, ever skip resting rice!! It’s essential!

Serve – Remove the lid, stir through some chopped parsley. Then divide between bowls and serve with a drizzle of olive oil and pinch of extra parsley. Dig in with a spoon!

YUM. That is one great bowl of cosy deliciousness. And a complete meal at that with almost 1 kg / 2 lb of vegetables (eggplant + canned tomatoes + onion, yes, onion totally counts), protein and starch.

Great served plain, as pictured above, but a dollop of yogurt wouldn’t go astray either (which I added yesterday when I made this for a team lunch). And nobody would say no to some warm flatbreads for dunking! – Nagi x

Watch how to make it

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Moussaka beef rice pilaf

Author: Nagi

Mains, One Pot Meals

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Recipe video above. This is an utterly delicious and easy way to turn a packet of beef mince into a cosy, satisfying one-pot dinner. Channeling Greek Moussaka flavours (but a fraction of the work!), this has soft juicy eggplant pieces and beef cooked in a red wine tomato broth that’s heavy on the garlic and oregano, while the addition of rice turns this into a satisfying all-in-one dinner. I love how both the rice and eggplant soaks up all the beefy flavour of the tomatoey broth.Though not in Moussaka, I added a can of chickpeas for some texture contrast amongst all the soft rice/eggplant, plus it’s a good-for-you low GI starch that will keep you feeling full for longer.

Instructions⚠️ Eggplant cube size – Make sure they’re no larger than 1.5 cm / 1/2″ max, else they may not cook through properly!Cook beef – Heat the oil on a large pot over high heat. Add the onion and garlic, cook for 2 minutes. Add the beef and cook, breaking it up as you go, until you no longer see red. Add the 1/2 tsp salt and oregano. Cook for 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute (don’t shortcut this step – Note 3).Deglaze – Add the eggplant and the cubes are coated in the red beef juices. Add the wine, bring it to a simmer, stir (scrape the base of the pot) then let it mostly evaporate.Broth – Add the rice and stir to coat. Add remaining ingredients, stir, bring to a simmer. Give it one last stir then once there are gentle bubbles all across the surface (not just around the edge), put the lid on and turn the heat down to medium low (or low, if using a strong stove).Steam rice – Cook for 20 minutes, no peeking, no stirring! The liquid will be absorbed by the stage though there will be a layer of tomato on the surface (peek quickly!).Rest – Remove the pot from the stove and rest for 10 minutes (lid still on) – residual liquid will be absorbed and the rice will finish cooking.Eat! Toss the rice – it will be juicy but not mushy! Divide between bowls, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with parsley and enjoy!

Recipe Notes:1. Protein options – Lamb works equally as well. Chicken, turkey and pork also work but won’t taste as “Greek”! 🙂
2. Eggplant – I do not peel, I’ve never had problems with bitterness in the skin (which has largely been bred out of eggplant these days). If you’re concerned about bitterness, toss the cubes of eggplant in 1/4 tsp salt and leave in colander for 30 minutes. Pat dry, follow recipe.
3. Rice – I like basmati because it has a lovely fragrance that I think suits this dish. Long grain and medium grain rice can also be used. Short grain rice/sushi will work but not my first choice, it gets a little softer than ideal. Jasmine rice is a little too soft for this type of cooking method (it will get mushy). Recipe not suitable as written for brown rice, risotto rice, paella rice, wild rice, black rice, quinoa or faux rice (cauliflower rice!).
4. Cooking off the tomato paste will intensify and improve the flavour, plus take off the sour edge. Makes the beef and overall dish tastier!
Leftovers will keep for 3 days. Add a sprinkle of water to juice it up again when reheating.
Nutrition per serving assuming 5 servings.

Nutrition Information:Calories: 458cal (23%)Carbohydrates: 53g (18%)Protein: 31g (62%)Fat: 13g (20%)Saturated Fat: 3g (19%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0.3gCholesterol: 62mg (21%)Sodium: 986mg (43%)Potassium: 1039mg (30%)Fiber: 8g (33%)Sugar: 8g (9%)Vitamin A: 454IU (9%)Vitamin C: 15mg (18%)Calcium: 114mg (11%)Iron: 6mg (33%)

Keywords: Beef and rice, beef mince recipe, Ground beef and rice, Ground beef recipe, One Pot Dinner

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Life of Dozer

In Dozer news, I finally caved and got him a life jacket so he can swim safely!

I was really trying to avoid it, thinking it would cement me further into the Crazy Dog Lady territory (even though secretly I know I’m the head priestess of the club). But after a stressful incident of Dozer swimming out way too far from shore, deaf to my frantic screeches to come back, I caved. Safety first!

To those wondering, Dozer is an excellent swimmer but he has an old-boy medical condition as a result of which he is not allowed to swim because of the risk of water getting into his lungs.

The life jacket, however, keeps him so nice and buoyant above the water line and keeps his head above water so he’s back swimming!!! He didn’t even bat an eyelid when I popped in on him. Look how happy he is!

So, Life of Dozer was pretty great this past weekend gone! I look forward to sharing more happy updates in the coming months.

Thank you again for all the messages of support and words of advice for Dozer’s recovery. I am genuinely so truly touched and grateful. – Nagi x

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