Though I love eggplant, my family, unfortunately, are not such fans. I mean, they'll eat it if I make it in something that is otherwise tasty, other than my one pickier eater. But eggplant is often on sale for very cheap round these parts, and I don't want to not be able to take advantage of it, just because of their not being thrilled with this vegetable.
That is why I was really excited to discover an eggplant recipe that my family is not only willing to eat, but they love it so much that they demand seconds and thirds as well. I can definitely say Moussaka is my favorite eggplant recipe in the whole wide world, and I've tasted many.
What is it?
Moussaka is an eggplant based dish, with many regional variations, originating in the areas of the former Ottoman Empire, though mostly associated with Greece (probably because of that scene in My Big Fat Greek Wedding where the protagonist is embarrassed by her moussaka for lunch at school). The traditional Greek preparation, upon which I based my take-off, is made with fried eggplant ground beef or lamb in spiced tomato sauce, and bechamel sauce. Kind of like a very eggplanty, pasta free, meaty lasagna.
Since I am dairy free, I make mine with a vegan white sauce, though you can use any other vegan white sauce recipe if you want, or even a dairy bechamel sauce. I've made this moussaka with ground beef, ground turkey, and even with lentils instead of the meat- it's delicious every way. If you want to make this vegan, go with the lentil and vegan white sauce. If you're Paleo or dairy free, use the meat and dairy free cheese sauce. Otherwise, feel free to use whatever variation you desire, suiting your tastes and budget.
I don't fry mine eggplant, to save work and use less oil, and it works just as well.
This is a somewhat more labor intensive recipe, but it is so delicious that it is well worth the effort.
2+ lbs eggplant slices
2 teaspoons salt
1 cups red lentils and 2 cups water
OR 1-1.5 lb ground turkey or chicken or beef
1 1/2 tablespoons oil
1 medium onion
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 cup tomato paste
1 cup water
Dairy Free White Sauce:
2 tablespoons oil
3 cups sunflower milk or almond milk
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
1/4 cup potato starch, corn starch, tapioca starch or arrowroot powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1. Slice your eggplant into half inch thick rounds. Sprinkle them with salt, and let them sit for 30 minutes.
2. If using lentils, boil them up with water until just starting to get soft- before they start falling apart. Then strain.
3. Chop the onion and saute it in the oil, then add either the ground beef or turkey and stir often, until fully cooked and crumbled. If using lentils, just add the lentils to the onions, but no need to cook further. Add the rest of the ingredients for the meat/tomato sauce. Set aside.
4. Chop the onions for the white sauce and saute. Add everything else for the white sauce, mix well, and cook until thickened. Set aside.
5. Squeeze the liquid out of the eggplants and rinse off.
6. Lay a layer of eggplant rounds on the bottom of a 9x13 baking pan. Cover with your meat sauce. Top with another layer of eggplant rounds. Top with the white sauce.
7. Bake at 350 for 1-2 hours, keeping it covered for the first hour or so, and then removing the cover to let the white sauce brown a bit.
8. Let cool a little bit before serving- it holds together best if not eaten straight out of the oven.
Have you ever had moussaka before? How was it made? Does this look like a recipe you'd try? Which version would you make it? With the ground meat or poultry? Lentils? Dairy white sauce or vegan white sauce?
Linking up to Allergy Free Wednesday, Real Food Wednesday