Thursday, March 4, 2010

Vegetable Moussaka

serves 6-8


Curiously, when I was in Greece 14 years ago (wow, really? that’s a long time ago…) I was a vegetarian at the time, and was beyond thrilled to discover a veggie place in the Agora in Athens that made all the local specialties without meat. I think the moussaka had seitan or tofu in it. Now that I haven’t been a vegetarian (just a vegetable lover) in almost as many years, it’s funny that when moussaka would cross my path and catch my interest again, it would happen to be a vegetarian version. The recipe came from an old choir buddy of mine who posted something about it on Facebook—she got it from the South Beach Diet. Of course I’ve had my way with it, in particular, in restoring the fat that the SBD had removed. This went over well at the Gray house tonight, and I’m pretty sure this is one of those dishes that’s going to be even better the next day. One thing: this recipe is truly for eggplant lovers only.

4 large eggplants (about 1 1/4 pounds), ends trimmed, cut widthwise into 1/4 inch rounds
2 tsp olive or canola oil
2 large onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 (15 oz) can lentils drained (or 3 cups cooked lentils)
2 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 cup chopped parsley
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 cup fat-free half and half
5 large eggs
3/4 C +1/4 C grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Salt eggplant slices and drain in a colander for 30 minutes, then rinse. Heat the oven to 425. Lightly coat eggplant with cooking spray or olive oil and arrange on a baking sheet. Bake until softened and golden, 25 – 35 minutes. (I needed two cookie sheets, and had to alternate them on the middle and bottom racks, since they wouldn’t fit side by side).

While eggplant is cooking heat oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add lentils, tomatoes, parsley, oregano, cinnamon, salt, and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened, about 20 minutes. I couldn’t find canned lentils at my grocery store, and I had plenty of dried ones at homes, so I cooked 1 1/2 cups in a large pot of water for about 30 minutes. Here are my steaming babies all ready to go.


This made more than 3 cups though—be assured that you’ll be seeing some kind of lentil soup or salad here in the next few days…

Preheat oven to 350. While eggplant and lentils are cooking, whisk together half and half, eggs, 3/4 cup cheese, and nutmeg in a medium bowl (I added a little salt to this mix too). Lightly coat an 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. Arrange 1/3 of the eggplant slices in a single layer, spread half of the lentil mixture over the top, sprinkle with half of the 1/4 C cheese. Repeat layers ending with a layer of eggplant. Here’s my dish, with the second layer of eggplant just getting started.


Pour the half and half mixture over the vegetables.


Cover with aluminum foil. Bake moussaka, covered 40 minutes. Uncover, raise temperature to 425, and bake 10-15 minutes more or until heated through and the top is golden. Let stand for 15 minutes before cutting.

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