I may have gone off the proverbial eggplant deep-end with this recipe. If you have been reading this blog for any length of time, you know I love eggplant. I promise I will refrain from using eggplant on the blog for a few months. Just please allow me to tempt you with one last eggplant recipe here… and yes, there’s cinnamon in there – in fact, it is the signature flavor of moussaka…. besides eggplant.
(To check out the other Spice Rack Challenges I have participated in click: mace, basil, coriander, cardamom, mint, dill, …. To check out the various Spice Rack Challenge Round Ups, click on Mother’s Kitchen here. )
Straight from Moosewood Cookbook (another favorite of mine, along with eggplant) – I present three of the loveliest layers of flavor you will ever eat: Mushroom Moussaka.
1. Peel and slice 3 medium eggplants about ¼ inch thick. Salt the slices and layer them in a colander. Allow the salt to draw out the bitter juices of the eggplant. (about 20-30 minutes).
2. While the eggplant and salt are doing their thing, start on the mushroom layer. Saute 2 cups of chopped onions. Add 2 pounds of sliced mushrooms and cook together till nice and golden and soft. Add about 5 cloves of chopped garlic also.
3. Add a 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes with all the liquid and 6 ounces of tomato paste. Spices include 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon oregano, 1 teaspoon basil and lots of black pepper. Stir and cook. Stir and cook. It will get nice and thick.
4. Add 1 C fresh parsley, ½ C bread crumbs and ½ C parmesan cheese to the mushrooms. Mix well and set aside. That layer is done!
5. Rescue the eggplants from their salt bath. Pat them dry with clean towels. Bake them in 375 degrees for about 20-30 minutes till super soft. They can pile on top of each other on the baking sheet. Another layer done!
6. While the eggplant is baking, work on the Béchamel layer. Melt 3 T butter. Add 4 T flour. Whisk and cook, whisk and cook. Slowly pour in 2 ½ C hot milk (I use skim). Whisk and cook for about 8 minutes. Add 2 T more of flour. Whisk and cook. Add 1 C Parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of nutmeg. Whisk and cook. The sauce should be thick and smooth.
7. Ready for the famous moussaka layers? Oil a huge casserole dish and start the layering: ¾ of the eggplant, then all the mushroom sauce, then the remaining eggplant, then all the béchamel sauce. Sprinkle the top with bread crumbs and a bit more Parmesan. Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 30-40 minutes.
8. Allow to cool for a while before cutting (unlike me) to get a great layered effect when you serve it.
Some thoughts: I made this on a Tuesday. I get crazy menu ideas sometimes and get in the mood for a ‘big’ meal on a work day. But you know what? Making this for my family is not really all that ‘big’ to me; I love getting creative in the kitchen and I find ‘big’ cooking to be very relaxing. I mean, look what I created!! It’s beautiful – you have to admit that, even if you don’t like eggplant!
This is a huge recipe, so be prepared for leftovers. My hubby thought it was a bit saucy and could have used some rice. I loved it as is and happily ate it that night and for lunch for the next few days!
So what about you and eggplant? Lover or hater?
PS – I was just looking around the internet at other Moosewood Mushroom Moussaka recipes to find a handy link for you and they are super easy to find. Click away. But what I notice is that most of them out there use eggs in the béchamel sauce, which means that those recipes come from an older version of the Moosewook Cookbook. I use and love the revised edition.
Hey- is anyone out there up for a Moosewood Cookbook Challenge in the coming year??? You know, maybe make something from one of the famous Moosewood cookbooks once a month and round them up here? Let me know!