Apparently my storage is full even after removing folders full of photographs onto an external drive. Makes it hard to edit new photographs and have a blog post ready to go when I want it to. Finally got enough files removed and was able to complete this post with photographs.
This week I bring a twist on a classic Middle Eastern/ Mediterranean dish, Moussaka. While most people think of Greece as moussaka’s homeland it is commonly eaten throughout the Balkans and northern Middle East.
Each region has a slight variation but the three ingredients that tend to always be present are eggplants, lamb or beef and tomatoes.
Instead of a casserole style meal with layers of sliced eggplants and meat sauce, I took the meat sauce and the flesh from an eggplant, mixed it up and put it back into the eggplant skins. I still topped it with béchamel sauce, however it is dairy free so has a different texture than regular béchamel.
It’s rich, it’s creamy and oh so perfect during the winter or when one is in need of comfort food. That being said moussaka is not a quick and easy recipe but takes time and patience. It can be eaten hot, warm or cold making it a great lunch to bring with you or to a large potluck dinner where heating things up could be tricky.
If I had to pick between lasagna, another great layered casserole dish and moussaka I will always pick moussaka. I love eggplant and the cinnamon and nutmeg are amazingly delicious in moussaka. I like to top mine with some fresh parsley and mint and a bit of lemon zest, these really help to bring out the flavours.
A simple salad of greens with a mustard vinaigrette and a glass of wine (or water as I actually had with it) are all that is needed to turn this dish into an elegant meal.
Try it this way when you want something different but impressive. You can not go wrong.
- 1 Eggplant
- 2 Tbsp olive oil, divided in half
- 1.2 Pound minced lamb
- 1 Onions, chopped
- 2 Cloves of garlic, chopped
- ½ Can diced tomatoes
- 2 Tbsp tomato puree
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- 1 Tsp cinnamon
- 1½ Cups dairy free milk, warmed
- 4 Tbsp dairy free butter
- ½ Cup gluten free flour
- A pinch of nutmeg
- 1 Egg yolks
- Cashew parmesan
- Fresh mint
- Fresh parsley
- Lemon zest
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Wash and cut eggplant in half. Make horizontal slice throughout flesh of eggplant but do not pierce the skin.
- Season with salt and place in a colander for about half an hour.
- Rinse the eggplant with plenty of water and squeeze with your hands, to get rid of the excessive water.
- Pat dry and drizzle 1 tbsp olive oil over the flesh and skin, making sure to really get into each cut made into the flesh.
- Place eggplant halves skin side up and bake for 20 minutes. Turn over and cook a further 15 minutes.
- Drain any excess liquids by placing eggplants on some paper towel while you make the meat sauce.
- One a medium high heat cook onions in 1 tbsp olive oil and sauté, until softened and slightly coloured.
- Stir in the garlic, tomato paste and lamb. Sauté until meat starts to turn light brown.
- Add the diced tomatoes making sure to hold back 2 tbsp for later.
- Add cinnamon and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Bring to boil, then turn the heat down and simmer with the lid on for about 30 minutes, until most of the juices have evaporated.
- Once eggplant has cooled scoop out flesh and add to meat sauce, stirring to combine.
- In a oven proof pan spread the two tbsp of diced tomatoes on the bottom and lay the eggplant skin side down ready to be filled.
- In a large pan melt butter over low medium heat. Add the flour whisking continuously to make a paste.
- Add warmed milk in a steady stream; keep whisking in order to prevent your sauce from getting lumpy. If the sauce still needs to thicken, boil over low heat while continuing to stir.
- Remove the pan from the stove and stir in the egg yolk, salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg. Whisk quickly or egg yolk will scramble.
- Scoop meat and eggplant sauce into the skins pressing into all corners of the skins and flattening on top.
- Spoon some béchamel sauce over and spread evenly.
- Bake in oven for 10 minutes, remove and spoon some more béchamel on top. Do this one last time but also add some cashew parmesan on top.
- Bake for a further 30 minutes or until the tops has browned. Remove from oven and let sit 10 minutes before serving.
- Serve with a sprinkle of fresh mint and parsley and a nice grating of lemon zest.