Saturday, January 9, 2010

Hibernation Day 2: Moussaka

While chocolate is always good, getting through the obscene cold (it's 2º outside.... that's not very many!) we've been having here in the midwest requires actual food. Warm food, comforting food, filling food -- food that actually warms you from the inside out and induces heavy winter naps. Moussaka definitely fills this need It's not quite as dense as some pasta casseroles or seriously heavy duty chili, but the it gets the job done. The Greeks have been doing this a long time and everything I've ever tried has been delicious.

I found this recipe as I was going through all the cooking magazines I've saved over the years. I made a half batch because I don't have 12 people to feed, and I try to avoid eating the same thing twice a day for 6 days- that's how you ruin loving a great recipe. Moussaka is traditionally made with beef or lamb and a cream sauce. This recipe substitutes lentils for the meat and creamed potatoes for the cream sauce. For those of you who are carnivorously inclined, I'm including a note at the bottom for making the traditional recipe, found in The Joy of Cooking.

Vegan Moussaka (from Vegetarian Times, November/December 2007)
12 servings

5 large (3.5lbs) russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks*
4 gloves garlic, peeled*
1/4 cup + 2Tbs olive oil, divided
1 large onion, chopped
3 Tbs dried oregano
2 15oz cans chopped tomatoes
2/3 cup green lentils*
1 bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick
2 medium eggplans, sliced
2 small zucchini, sliced
3 tomatoes, thinly sliced (I omitted these because January is not really the time to buy "fresh" tomatoes)

1. Cook potatoes and garlic in boiling salted water for 10 minutes, until soft. Drain and keep the liquid (I put a pyrex under the strainer to catch the liquid). Mash with 1/4 cup olive oil and 2 cups cooking liquid. Season with salt and pepper. *(See note for cream sauce version below)

2. Heat 2 Tbs olive oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and oregano, sauté for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, lentils, bay leaf, cinnamon stick and 3 cups potato cooking liquid. Cover, reduce heat to med-low and simmer 45 minutes or until lentils are tender. Remove bay leaf and cinnamon, purée lentils until chunky. Season with salt and pepper.*(See note for meat version below)
 *Note: I would recommend adding 3 or 4 cloves of minced garlic to this saucepan. It was alright without it, but I think additional garlic would make it great.

3. Place eggplant slices on a baking sheet lined with paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Let stand 30 minutes. Rinse and pat dry.

4. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Cover deep 13x9" baking dish with cooking spray. Spoon 1 1/2 cups lentil mixture into bottom. Top with eggplant, followed by zucchini and tomato slices. Spoon 2 cups lentil mixture over top. Spread half the potatoes over lentil mixture. Top with remaining eggplant and lentil mixture. Spread remaining potatoes over top, making sure to cover completely. Bake 1 1/2 hours, or until top is browned.

Notes for Traditional Cream Sauce and Meat Filling:
 *1. Beat together 4 large eggs, 1 1/4 cups plain yogurt (preferably Greek) drained, pinch of paprika and salt/pepper to taste. Bake the layered baking pan for 30 minutes, then pour this sauce over the eggplant. Evenly sprinkle 1/2 cup grated Greek kefalotyri and Parmesan, or Parmesan  and return to oven to bake an additional 25-30 minutes.

*2. In place of the lentils, cook 1lb minced or ground lamb or lean beef until it has browned and rendered its fat. Transfer the meat to a bowl using a slotted spoon and pour off the fat from the pan. Add 2Tbs water to the pan and scrape up any browned bits. Add the meat back to the pan and continue with the rest of the steps/ingredients above.

No comments:

Post a Comment