Tuesday, October 12, 2010

moussaka

I made moussaka* for dinner last night. I wanted to make something with eggplant, and I scoured my cookbooks for something really special. I didn't actually know I liked eggplant until a few weeks ago, so I was excited to try my hand at cooking it. After searching online and in all my cookbooks, I finally settled on Martha's version of the "Mediterranean classic." It's in my cookbook but available to you online.

(Side note: if you think you don't like eggplant but haven't tried it lately: try it! It's so, so yummy. It's a little like a mushroom, with that meaty texture, and a little like a squash, with such a delicious earthy flavor. Seriously people. I love eggplant!)

This is a Martha recipe, so that translates to lots of pots and lots of time. I had both.

You're supposed to use regular yogurt and let it strain through a cheesecloth, but I had greek yogurt in my fridge and figured it'd be thick enough. I was right. The thickened yogurt (or my greek) gets mixed with parmesan and an egg. It will be topping sauce. It will be wonderful.

The middle sauce is ground turkey, which you brown and set aside, and then a mixture of onion and garlic sauteed with cinnamon and nutmeg, and then tomatoes and oregano. Simmer all that for about an hour until it thickens and add in 1/2 cup fresh parsley. By the way, this smells incredible.
While the sauce cooks, you have to prepare your eggplant, which involves slicing it and sprinkling each side with salt. Let the eggplant drain off all the bitter flavor it would have otherwise, then rinse and dry. Roast it under the broiler and you're ready to go.

The moussaka is layered together (Martha said use an 8X8 but I used a larger pyrex), with eggplant on top and bottom and red sauce in the middle. Cover it all with the yogurt sauce, and either bake immediately or stick it in the fridge up to a day in advance. I made mine Monday afternoon, and baked it for dinner the same day.
This smells unbelievable as it bakes. You get that delicious tomato sauce aroma with hints of cinnamon and nutmeg wafting through the house, and it was all I could do to stop myself from diving head first in the moussaka while it rested for 10 minutes once it was out of the oven.
The yogurt firms up and it slices like lasagna, but y'all. This is way better than lasagna. Edwin and I couldn't believe how delicious this was. It's a little sweet and very savory and perfectly satiating. This would be great company food, if your company likes eggplant, because it's tasty and a little different. I can't wait to eat leftovers for lunch.
I hope you like it. I made it.


*Stewart, Martha. The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook: The New Classics. "Moussaka." p. 295

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