Thursday, June 30, 2011

Moussaka: A Lasagna Wanna-be

My sister introduced me to moussaka just a few weeks, ago, and I'll be honest.. I was pretty skeptical at the time. If you're like me, you probably haven't even heard of it before! So.. a quick description. Moussaka is a Greek dish similar to lasagna, the primary difference being that it uses eggplant instead of noodles, and it also contains cinnamon and nutmeg. (Thus my skepticism... eggplant? cinnamon? nutmeg? in one dish??)


It would seem that my sister had every right to rave over this dish. The eggplant is a great substitute for carb-laden pasta, although it has a slightly different texture. My favorite part of the dish, however, is the addition of the cinnamon and nutmeg. Delicious. Think comfort food. Think warm, cozy flavors. Moussaka was a hit with the whole family, and we'll definitely keep this one around!


Warning: this dish does take 30-40 minutes of prep time, as well as 45 minutes to bake, so make sure you set out on this venture with time to spare!


Serves 4, approximately 12 carbs per serving.

Ingredients


  • 2 medium eggplants
  •  olive oil (as needed)
  •  1 lb lean ground beef (or can use ground lamb)
  •  2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
  •  2 tablespoons fresh minced garlic (or to taste, I use lots!)
  •  1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  •  1 teaspoon dried oregano (or to taste)
  •  1 teaspoon salt, divided (or to taste, I use seasoned salt)
  •  1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper (or to taste)
  • 1/2 T. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 T. ground cinnamon  

Cheese Sauce
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  •  1/2 teaspoon salt (I use seasoned salt)
  •  1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper (or to taste)
  •  2 tablespoons flour
  •  1 cup half-and-half cream
  •  1 egg
  •  1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (can use more) 
1. Grease a 9 x 9-inch baking pan 

2. Peel the eggplants then slice 1/4-inch thick (or a little thicker won't hurt).
3. Lightly coat each side of sliced eggplant with olive oil then season slices with salt and pepper  
4. Place the eggplant slices on a cookie sheet; broil under the broiler until brown; turn and broil the other side, brushing with oil if needed; repeat with all eggplant slices. (Don't go overboard with the oil.. you don't want it to be greasy!)





5. In the bottom of the prepared baking dish arrange half of the eggplant slices.
6. In a large skillet, combine beef and onions; cook stirring until the beef is no longer pink and the onions are soft; drain fat.
7. Add in the garlic, tomato sauce, oregano, cinnamon, nutmeg, and 1/2 tsp salt and black pepper to taste; pour mixture over eggplant slices. 
8. Arrange the remaining eggplant slices over the beef mixture.    


PREPARE THE CHEESE SAUCE
9. Melt the butter in a saucepan, whisk in flour, 1/2 tsp salt and pepper to taste; gradually stir in half and half or milk, cook and stir over medium heat until thick and bubbly.
10. In a small bowl, beat egg; stir in some of the hot sauce, then add egg to sauce mixture, mix well; add in Parmesan cheese, and stir again.
11. Pour the cheese sauce over mixture in baking dish.
12. Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven for 45 minutes.


 Note: If doubling this recipe to serve 8 it is best to make two separate casseroles instead of one larger one.


Voila! Dinner is served! 














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