So last year I had my first go at making moussaka. Its this awesome Greek dish that I'm absolutely in love with. Layers of cooked potatoes, eggplant and a yummy tomato meat sauce topped with a creamy layer of white sauce and cheese. Last time I tried a traditional recipe, using ground beef. I decided to go with a vegetarian version this time. I tweaked the original recipe I used, and came out with this. And I have to say it was pretty damn good. This was our Meatless Monday installment for this week.
- 3 small graffiti eggplants,sliced into rounds
- 3 medium potatoes, sliced into rounds
- olive oil
- sea salt
- 1 small package of baby bellas
- 1/2 red onion diced
- 1 can of whole peeled tomatoes, drained
- 1-2 cups cooked quinoa
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cinnamon stick
- pinch of all spice
- 1/4 cup red wine
- 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 stick of butter
- 4 cups hot whole milk
- salt, pepper, nutmeg to taste
- 3 egg yolks beaten
- 1 1/2 - 2 cups grated hard cheese (I used half parm, half gruyere)
There are 3 "layers" that need to be made. So as I'm not rushing around trying to do it all at once, I cook the potatoes/eggplant earlier on, then start the mushroom sauce- and while that's simmering I make the béchamel sauce.
Coat the eggplant and potatoes with olive oil and salt, then broil for about 15 minutes until fork tender (Keep the eggplant and potatoes separated, they will be two different layers). Set aside.
Heat some olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat, sauté the mushrooms, onion and garlic until tender. Drain off extra oil and moisture. Break the whole peeled tomatoes up with your hands and add into the skillet.Add in the red wine and let simmer for 1-2 minutes. Add the bay leaf, cinnamon and all spice. Add in the cooked quinoa, and breadcrumbs- stir to combine, and keep over low/ medium heat until all the moisture is absorbed. Remove bay leaf and cinnamon stick.
To make the béchamel sauce- melt the butter in a pot over medium high heat, once melted slowly add in the flour- whisking constantly. Cook for about 2 minutes. Slowly add in the hot milk, while continuing to whisk- letting it thicken up as you pour. Once thickened, season with salt pepper and nutmeg to taste. Remove from heat and slowly add in the egg yolks in a stream. Return to heat for 1-2 minutes, making sure all of the ingredients are combined. Set aside off the heat to cool.
Add 1 ladle full of the béchamel sauce to the mushroom quinoa sauce- stir to combine.
To Assemble - coat the bottom and sides of a 9x13 baking dish lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle just enough breadcrumbs to lightly coat the bottom and sides.
Arrange the potato slices as the bottom layer, slightly overlapping the pieces.
Spread half of the mushroom and quinoa sauce on top of the potatoes.
Arrange the eggplant slices as the next layer, slightly overlapping the pieces making sure to cover the whole dish (this will help hold to top layer of béchamel up).
Spread the remaining mushroom quinoa sauce on top of the eggplant.
Top with the remainder of the béchamel sauce, spreading evenly over the entire dish.
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.
Spread the cheese evenly on top, return to the oven for an additional 20 minutes.
Shut oven off, but leave in the oven with the door cracked open for 20 minutes.
Remove from oven and let sit 15-20 minutes before cutting and serving.
We served this with a fresh home made Greek salad. I'm not going to lie, this recipe is very labor intensive. It takes a while, but if you have the time and patience - it will be worth it. If you prefer trying this with meat, just substitute the mushrooms/ and or quinoa with 1 pound of ground beef (or lamb). Just don't forget to drain the excess grease off of the meat once you sauté it. Wether with meat or vegetarian, this is something that you have to make if only once in your life. Cheers!