Moussaka is delicious in its various forms, which almost always include meat. This version is equally wonderful, very flavourful and satisfying, and we allow the little lambs to frolic another day.
It is not difficult to make but it is a bit time consuming to make in one go. Try to make the time for it, though…it is totally worth the effort!
2 medium-sized eggplants
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
grated Parmesan (about 1/4 cup) OR about 1 cup of the pre-grated “pizza mix” cheese
4 medium potatoes, boiled and cooled, then sliced about 1/4″ thick (optional)
3 tbsp. olive oil
750g chopped mushrooms
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp. dried oregano
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
lots of freshly ground pepper
1 cup dry red wine
6-7 fresh tomatoes, chopped coarsely (could use 19-ounce can of diced)
1 can tomato paste
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups cottage cheese
Cut eggplants into 1/4″ slices crossways,layer in colander over bowl or sink, sprinkling each layer with salt. Let stand for 30-60 minutes. This removes excess water, and prevents that bitter taste eggplant sometimes has.
In the meantime, prepare the sauce. In a large frying pan, fry the mushrooms, onion and garlic in the olive oil until softened. Mix in the remaining ingredients except parsley, and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated – when you draw a spoon along the bottom of the pan, the sauce will not fill in much when it is ready to use. This will take a while. When it is done, stir in the parsley and set aside.
While the mushroom-tomato sauce is reducing, make the cheese sauce. Make a roux with the butter and flour, whisk in the milk over medium-low heat and cook until it is thickened and smooth. Stir in the cheeses, then the eggs (add eggs last so they don’t start cooking – the mixture will have cooled with the addition of the cheeses).
Turn on the broiler element in the oven.
Drain and rinse the eggplant, and pat dry. Brush with olive oil and set on baking sheet. Broil until translucent and golden, turning once – about 8-10 minutes total.
Change the oven to heat to 350 degrees.
Now to assemble: spread half the mushroom-tomato mixture in a greased deep 9×13″ pan/lasagna pan. Dab a little cheese sauce over this (about 1/4 of it), distributing evenly. Layer half the eggplant over this, overlapping if necessary. Repeat layers (adding a layer of sliced potatoes in there if using), and end with a nice deep layer of cheese sauce. You can cover and freeze it at this point if you like. Top this layer with either the grated parmesan, or the cup or so of pizza cheese, then sprinkle with breadcrumbs.
Bake for 60-70 minutes in oven, or until browned and bubbling. Let stand for 15 minutes or so, then cut into squares. Will make about 8 servings. A nice red wine, a simple green salad and crusty bread make nice accompaniments 🙂