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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

It’s Greek to Us

We love Greek food at our house, and it’s really easy to make at home. Moussaka is one of our favorites, but I feel guilty about the heavy bechamel sauce that normally tops it. This is a lighter version, and it’s equally good with soy crumbles in place of the ground beef for nights you want to eat vegetarian.


Quick and Light(er) Moussaka

2 eggplants, peeled and cubed (about 2 1/2 lbs)
Olive oil

1 lb extra lean ground beef (or 12 oz soy crumbles)
2 onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp Greek seasoning
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp black pepper

2 cups part-skim ricotta, at room temp
1 cup feta, crumbled (reduced fat if possible), at room temp
1 egg, at room temp
dash of nutmeg

eggplant 1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment and lightly drizzle with olive oil or spray with cooking spray. Make a single layer of the eggplant and drizzle with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 20-30 minutes, until edges are browned and eggplant is tender.

DSC_0007 2. Meanwhile, brown the meat (or soy crumbles), onion, and garlic for about 5 minutes, unil onions are translucent. Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, Greek seasoning, cinnamon, and black pepper. Have you tried this tomato paste in a tube? I absolutely love it…it’s a little more expensive, but it’s concentrated and you can just keep it in the refrigerator. It’s great for recipes like this that only use a little bit, so you don’t have to open a whole can.

DSC_0009 3. Simmer that while your eggplant finishes roasting.

DSC_0011 4. When the eggplant is done, spread it in the bottom of a large casserole dish (or a 9x13 pan), then pour the meat mixture over it. This was very steamy, for some reason!

DSC_0013 5. Combine the ricotta, feta, egg, and nutmeg in a bowl, then dollop onto the meat mixture. Spread it around with a spoon to cover as much as you can. I had little helpers, so mine was pretty messy this time.

DSC_0015 6. Preheat your broiler on high, then broil for 5-10 minutes, until brown spots start appearing on the topping. See how messy the hooligans made my topping look? Kids!

This is great comfort food. We eat it with a Greek salad with kalamata olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, red onion, and a bit more feta cheese. I make a basic vinaigrette, adding about a teaspoon of Greek seasoning.

My brother uses Greek seasoning on tons of stuff, especially any sort of meat on the grill. He’s to blame for my addiction to it! If you don’t have a bottle in your pantry, it’s a great blend to add a little flavor.

Apparently I’m home-schooling today, since my second grader is home sick and has lots of homework to do, so I’ll see you tomorrow (virtually, that is!).

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