I love eggplants.
I come from a Romanian Jewish family and Romanians love eggplants plus I was born in Israel and since Israel is a melting pot (literally!) of Jews who came back to their land after thousands of years in the Diaspora, from all over the world, and brought with them the different cuisines they grew up on – I’ve been blessed by diversity and richness of foods from different cultures.
In addition to that – the Middle East region has so many delicious eggplant dishes to offer as well !
Moussaka, a Greek dish that consists of eggplants and meat – became a vegetarian dish in my vegetarian Kosher kitchen (-:
This time I prepared the moussaka in small rings but you can make it in a large heatproof dish
4 potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick
Olive oil or sunflower oil
Salt and ground pepper
Vegetarian “meat” Sauce:
5 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 celery stalks – diced
1 carrot – diced (little cubes)
6 cloves garlic, minced
400 grams frozen ground vegetarian minced “meat” (made of soy) , thawed
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
800 grams (28 oz) whole peeled tomatoes (canned)+ their sauce
100 grams butter
110 grams flour
3 cloves garlic – crushed
1 cup goat milk yogurt
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon kosher salt
ground black pepper
freshly ground nutmeg
3/4 cup grated Parmesan
Cook the potato slices for in a large pot with salted water for 10 minutes after boiling.
Preheat oven to 210 degrees C/ 410 F.
Slice the eggplants lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices, soak them in salted water for 15 minutes.
Rinse, dry with paper towels, pour enough olive oil to a wide bowl and dip the eggplant slices in it, squeezing out excess oil.
Sprinkle salt and ground pepper on both sides. Place on a baking sheet and bake in the oven, 15 minutes on each side. Set aside.
For the meat sauce, which is actually a Ragu sauce:
In a large saucepan, saute the chopped onion, celery, carrot and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat. Cover and continue cooking for 10 minutes, add the ground vegetarian “meat” substitute and cook on medium heat 5 more minutes.. Turn the heat up to high, add the tomatoes and their sauce and lower the heat to simmer for 15-20 minutes till at least 1/2 of the liquid evaporates and the sauce thickens.
For the bechamel:
In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and when it melts, add the flour, whisking to make a paste. Add the minced garlic and 1 cup of goat milk yogurt and stir constantly with a whisk. Add the milk slowly, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Once the sauce starts to come to a boil, reduce the heat to low and cook until thickened, about 10 minutes, whisking very frequently. Add the salt, pepper and nutmeg, and set aside. Add the Parmesan and whisk. Allow to cool a little bit and then add the eggs and whisk quickly.
To assemble the moussaka:
Preheat oven to 175 degrees C/ 350 degrees F.
Before assembling, taste each of the 4 layers and make sure they are properly seasoned.
I used small rings so assembling will be a bit different than the traditional moussaka.
Lay out one long eggplant slice so that it covers the bottom and sides of the rings. Lay another eggplant slice on top of it so that it creates a cross. Do the same with the other rings.
Place 1 Tbsp of béchamel sauce on top of the eggplants/inside the ring.
Cover with about 1 Tbsp of Ragu/Bolognese sauce and
cover with a round slice of potato, which you pre-cut with another ring – to fit right in.
Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 25 minutes.
Place a plate on top of the ring, gently slide a palette under the ring and flip it upside down on the plate.
Separate the moussaka from the sides of the ring with a knife.