culinary experiment: French moussaka

July 23, 2022

It is farm share season. This year, I joined a great one where I can actually select the vegetables I want. But one of the joys of a CSA is getting food you don’t know what to do with and having to figure out something. So even though I didn’t have to, I took an eggplant this week. You are probably thinking of a million things to do with an eggplant, but sorry it’s just never been a staple in my kitchen.

So what to do with this strange purple creature? I remembered back to a Turkish friend of mine from grad school and a moussaka she made. I also read a recipe about a French take on eggplant Parmesan, eggplant tian, that sounded good, so I kinda combined the two. The result was rich without being heavy, and I will happily eat more eggplant from now on. Here’s what I did.

I peeled and sliced a medium eggplant. I salted, rinsed, and dried it. Then I dipped it in a simple dressing of olive oil, red wine vinegar and grated garlic and placed it on a cookie sheet. I broiled it for about ten minutes. At the same time, I took a small can of crushed tomatoes, two cloves of garlic, half of a spring onion, half a cup of red wine, and some thyme, tarragon, and basil and made a quick tomato sauce. I also browned a third of a pound of ground beef in a tablespoon of butter.

To assemble, I covered the bottom of a baking dish with the tomato sauce. I then layered on half the eggplant, cut into strips. Maybe I didn’t need to do that, but it made it easy to eat with no cutting. Next came the ground beef and then another layer of tomato sauce. For the topping I sprinkled on Parmesan cheese mixed with black pepper and fresh parsley.

I baked it in the oven for 30 minutes until the top was golden brown. I let it rest about five minutes to set up, and served it topped with a little more fresh parsley. This made about two generous portions, but could be easily spread to four as part of a larger meal. I also would have liked to try lamb rather than beef, but they didn’t have any at the store. This is a recipe I’m already planning to make again. Click here for more of my culinary experimentation.

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