Friday, September 11, 2009


Eggplant has been especially beautiful and abundant at the Farmers Market this summer and I have bought many sizes, shapes, and colors of it. Moussaka is an eggplant dish I have been familiar with, but not eaten or cooked before. With all these gorgeous eggplants around, it seemed the perfect time to try it out.

I turned to the internet for a recipe and found many variations and much passion for this dish. The only constant, really, is the eggplant. Bechamel or cheese? Cinnamon or no cinnamon? Sultanas? Lamb or beef?

I decided on a Tyler Florence recipe which uses feta and parmesan cheeses rather than bechamel, and also a small amount of cinnamon. I tampered with his recipe of course. I used 1 pound of ground beef, rather than 2 pounds of ground lamb. I grilled the eggplant, rather than fried it. I used fresh, rather than canned tomatoes, and I did not peel my eggplant. I still consider it Tyler's recipe and I was surprised and delighted by how delicious it was.

3 - 3 1/2 pounds fresh eggplant
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive Oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lemon, sliced into thin circles
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 pound lean ground beef
1/2 cinnamon stick
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 pound fresh, ripe tomatoes, peeled and diced
8 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
Slice the eggplant, lengthwise, into 1/4 inch slices. Salt and pepper both sides and grill, on a lightly oiled grill, until tender.

While the eggplant are cooking, heat some oil in a large skillet. Add the onion, garlic, lemon, oregano, and parsley. Cook until soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the ground beef, stirring to break up the meat. When no longer pink, stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, cinnamon stick, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer until the liquid has evaporated.

Line the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish with a third of the eggplant, leaving no gaps. Spread half of the meat sauce over the eggplant. Sprinkle with half the feta and Parmesan. Repeat the layers again, ending with a final layer of eggplant. Cover the top with a layer of bread crumbs. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

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