We’ve always loved moussaka. This rich, Greek white sauce, lamb and eggplant dish cries out for an Italian version.
How did we Italianize our moussaka? Well, most of the Greek or Mediterranean recipes we’ve seen, call for either well-browned potatoes or seasoned bread crumbs to be layered along the bottom of a 9” by 13” baking dish. (Moussaka is a baked casserole). This is an excellent start, if the potatoes are almost perfectly “browned”, or if the breadcrumbs are exceptionally well seasoned.
We thought: “How would this recipe be with a pasta layer on the bottom?” So, we tried a couple of different kinds of pasta and, “surprise”, we liked homemade sun-dried or pesto flavored lasagna noodles the best for this layer. Othere "flavored" lasagna noodles would be great, also. Spinach? Arugula? Basil? Fennel? Your gourmet choice if you have a pasta maker!
Moussaka is also really good with the bread crumb base with a layer of mozzarella or provolone over it.
As you can see, moussaka is a very versatile dish, and one that you will want ot make over and over again, no matter what base you use.
Another ingredient change we use that varies from the traditional is plain yogurt with a touch of sugar to enhance the traditional béchamel sauce layer. This adds a nice “sweet” touch that compliments the eggplant and lamb nicely.
You can cook this in a standard 9 x 13 baking dish, or you can increase the ingredients by about a third, and use a 17.5 x 12 non-stick lasagna pan. Since this means you’ll have more delicious moussaka to enjoy, why not go this way?
New Italian Recipes Presents
2 large eggplants, about 2 lbs., peeled and sliced crosswise into ½ inch slices
2 T salt
5-6 T olive oil
1 ½ lbs ground lamb
1 medium onion, diced
3-4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
2 T red wine vinegar
½ cup white wine
1 ½ cups homemade tomato sauce
½ cup beef stock
2 cups milk
3 T butter
1/3 cup flour
1 cup plain yogurt
1 T turbinado (raw) sugar
¼ lb. Provolone cheese (optional)
½ cup parmigiano-reggiano
¼ cup chopped, fresh Italian parsley
½ T cinnamon (if you are going to grind your own spices, use a 2 inch stick)
1 T fennel (if you are going to grind your own, toast it a bit first in a skillet over medium heat. About 8 minutes.)
1/2 T allspice
¼ t nutmeg
1 T ground thyme
About 6 sheets of either homemade lasagna pasta, or equivalent in boiled pasta sheets. (You are going to cover the bottom of your baking pan with butter, then with pasta.
Salt the sliced eggplant and let stand for twenty minutes. Then, wipe off the salt and the liquid that has risen out of the eggplant. (You could also stack the slices in a colander, place a dinner plate over it so it will press down on the eggplant, then place a weight on the plate.)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Place the eggplant (after you’ve wiped off the salt and the liquid) in an oiled baking sheet large enough to hold it in a single layer, if possible, brush the tops with olive oil, and bake for 35 minutes.
While the eggplant is baking, in a large skillet, brown the lamb well in olive oil over medium heat. Remove it to a bowl and discard any leftover grease.
Add 2 T olive oil to the same skillet, add the onions, and sauté for about 5 minutes.
Add the garlic and half of the herb mix and sauté for about 2 minutes.
Add the wine vinegar and reduce by about three quarters.
Add the wine, beef stock and the other half of the herb mix and reduce by ½.
Add the tomato sauce and the lamb, and reduce heat to low.
Simmer while you make the béchamel.
In a sauce pan, add the butter and flour. Mix well into a roux.
After this is well combined, add the milk and simmer for a couple of minutes, then add the sugar for about 1 more minute, stirring to dissolve.
Stir in the yogurt and remove from the heat.
When you remove the eggplant from the oven, reduce the heat to 375 degrees F.
Grease a 9 by 13 baking dish with butter.
Layer with lasagna noodles. It’s okay to overlap.
Add a layer of eggplant, then a layer of provolone.
Add the lamb and tomato sauce and smooth it out, and then top with another layer of the eggplant.
Add the yogurt/béchamel sauce and smooth.
Then, top with the parmigiano-reggiano and Italian parsley.
Bake at 375 for about 45 minutes.
Let it stand for 10-12 minutes before serving.
Pasta moussaka. We think you’ll like it. Red or white wine both go well with this dish. We like a light red like cabernet sauvignon with this dish, or a nice pinot noir.
Buon appetito always!
Brought to you with love from
Aunt Aletha and Dear Old Dave
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