How to Make Vegetarian or Meat Moussaka With Bechamel Topping
Every country has it's soul food. That special dish that brings you back to Mama's cooking or even the cooking of your Grandmothers. One of those foods in Greece is Vegetarian or Meat Moussaka. If you are a fan of Lasagna, or Eggplant Parmesan you will not even miss the noodles in this dish! With the fluffy cream topping, and layers of savory potato and vegetables with a fresh tomato sauce, you will not be disappointed. This recipe is developed by World Cuisine Today www.worldcuisinetoday.com and inspired by the Vegetarian or Meat Moussaka at Papaspiros Restaurant 728 Lake Street Oak Park Illinois www.papaspiroslive.com.
Recipe For Vegetarian or Meat Moussaka with Bechamel Sauce
One pound ground lean beef, turkey, pork or lamb (traditionally lamb)
(If vegetarian three cups cooked brown lentils drained and rinsed)
2 cups extra virgin olive oil
One and a half cups whole milk
One cup cream
Three egg yolks
6 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1/2 cup all purpose flour
One cup grated Romano or Pamesan
1/2 cup shredded Swiss or Kefalograviera Greek cheese
Two large or three medium eggplants
One green or yellow zucchini (optional)
Two Russet or Four Yukon gold potatoes
Four cups chopped fresh plum tomatoes and their juices
Two tablespoons tomato paste
One cup Cabernet Sauvignon or Kretikos Greek red wine
Two tablespoons tomato paste
Four large cloves garlic minced
Two cups of minced golden yellow onion
One half of a banana pepper, or two green serranos or one Jalepeno or sweet pepper
One half cup minced kalamata olives (optional)
One half cup golden raisins or currents
One cup minced flat leaf parsley
Two tablespoons fresh oregano
Two tablespoons fresh basil
Two tablespoons fresh thyme
Two medium sized fresh bay leaves minced
1/2 cup blanched slivered almonds ground (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
One teaspoon honey
Two teaspoons ground pepper of choice
One teaspoon Kosher salt
One teaspoon sweet paprika or ground saffron
Juice of one large lemon
1) Take three tablespoons of the olive oil and place in a large high sided pan or Dutch oven. Add the two cups of diced yellow onions and cook stirring until translucent. Saute next the pepper to soften and then add the minced garlic for one minute more. Soak the golden raisins or currents in warm water for fifteen minutes.
2) Add the meat, or lentils if using and brown on all sides with one quarter cup of the olive oil adding to the meat: cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, one T oregano, one T basil, one T thyme and one minced bay leaf. Also add the ground almonds and minced Kalamata olives, if using. Also add the soaked golden raisins with 1/2 cup of the soaking water and 1/3 cup minced parsley. Cook until brown on all sides for 12 minutes. Make sure all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed.
3) Add the diced tomatoes and their juices along with one cup of Cabernet Sauvignon or Kretikos red as well as the two tablespoons of tomato paste dissolved into the wine. At this point add the additional one T oregano, one T basil, one T thyme and one T fresh minced bay leaf and 1/2 cup minced parsley. Season to taste with ground pepper of choice. Add the honey. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer for thirty minutes to have the flavors come together fully.
4) To prepare the vegetables in a large pan with high sides place the 11/2 to 2 cups olive oil. Peel and slice into thin rounds the eggplant, and potato. Slice into thicker rounds the zucchini. Sprinkle the vegetables with the salt pepper and paprika. Squeeze with the lemon juice beforehand and grill in the oil for five minutes total until golden on all sides. Drain well on a plate with paper towels.
5) Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Farenheit.
6) Oil or butter a large lasagna pan. Layer the bottom with half of the potatoes, then the eggplant, then the zucchini.
7) Over the vegetables put a one centimeter layer of the sauce roughly 1 1/2 to 2 cups.
8) Repeat the layering process with the potatoes, eggplant and zucchini.
9) Layer with another 1 1/2 to 2 cups of the sauce.
10) Reserve some vegetables for the top.
10) Spoon a bit of the sauce also around the edges of everything.
11) For the bechamel sauce: melt 1/2 of a stick of butter, 1/2 cup flour together and cook in a pot until golden. Whisking briskly add the milk and cheeses until everything is melted. In a small bowl beat the eggs and whisk together with some of the cheese sauce mixture then stir briskly into the bowl. Pour the Bechamel sauce evenly over the top.
12) Bake for 50 minutes to an hour until the top is cooked but not brown or burned.
13) Let cook for twenty minutes and then serve. Garnish with minced flat leaf parsley for each guest if desired.
Recipe Developed by: Sarah J. Hall World Cuisine Today March 22, 2017