Monday, July 11, 2011

Eggplant and Lamb Moussaka (Baked on the Grill)


Eggplant and Lamb Moussaka

Eggplant is a summertime staple in our house.  We buy it at our local farmer’s market on Sunday afternoon. 

Hubby Dan loves Eggplant dipped into Mrs. T’s Spicy Bloody Mary Mix and dredged in all purpose flour.  Then we fry it in combination of light olive oil and canola oil  – 2 minutes each side.   We pat off the excess oil and once we plate them, we hit them with a little fine sea salt.  We serve it with a ranch dip spiked with your favorite hot sauce.  Yum!  (This is your bonus recipe tonight).

We try not to fry too food much in this household.   I had eggplant that I wanted to use up, and I also had ground lamb in the freezer.  I have an abundance of oregano and fresh mint growing in my patio herb garden so I said to myself, “Self, why not make Moussaka tonight?  

This is a summertime casserole that you can bake on the grill.  Yes, I said on the grill.   Remember - a grill is an outside broiler.  You only need to use the oven for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees to pre-roast the eggplant.  If you read this blog, you know how I feel about using the oven in the summer.

The flavors in my Moussaka will make you want to shout “Opa!” and break out the Ouzo.  The addition of the little bit of cooking cream, sweet red pepper and pepper tomato sauce, I am certain is not traditional. I think you will like my garlicky and savory version of this classic Greek delight.  Lots of good veggies (Power Foods) in this meal!

Serves 4.

For this recipe, you will need –

To Prepare the Eggplant:

18 slices of Eggplant (peeled and thinly sliced)
Sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Butter flavored cooking spray
Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

For the Lamb Filling:

Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 pound Ground Lamb
1 small sweet Onion, diced
2 tablespoons chopped Red Bell Pepper
1 Plum Tomato, chopped
1 cup Prepared Spaghetti Sauce with Sweet Peppers (suggest Barilla ® Calabrese)
¼ cup Philadelphia Brand® Savory Garlic Cooking Crème
1 teaspoon Dried Oregano
1/4 of Dry Red Table Wine
Sea Salt, to taste
Freshly Ground Pepper, to taste
Pinch or two of Ground Cinnamon

Béchamel Sauce:

4 tablespoons Butter
2 tablespoons Flour
3/4 Cup of 2% Milk
¼ teaspoon Nutmeg
Sea Salt, to taste
White Pepper, to taste
1/4 cup Grated Parmesan and Romano Cheese

Other:

Cooking Spray
1 tablespoon Fresh Oregano, stemmed and chopped
1 tablespoon Fresh Chopped Mint
Fresh chopped Parsley (optional)
¼ cup Crumbled Feta Cheese

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees.

Peel purple skin from eggplants and slice thin. 

Salt and pepper both sides and place on cooking sheet sprayed with butter flavored cooking spray. 



Drizzle with Olive Oil.   Bake for 15 minutes.  Set aside until cool to touch.  Turn the oven off!  That’s all you’re going to need it.

Brown lamb in Olive Oil.  Add onion and chopped tomato.  Cook for three minutes.



Add remaining ingredients for the lamb.  Stir well to mix the cooking cream and the red sauce.  Bring to boil and reduce to simmer, about five minutes until heated through.

In a tin foil loaf play sprayed with cooking spray, layer 3 slices of eggplant and meat until all are used up (no meat on top of the last layer).

Add Butter to sauce pan along with the flour.  Cook for three minutes over low heat, stirring to make sure that flour doesn’t burn but is combined with the butter. 

Add the milk, nutmeg, salt and pepper.  Simmer over low until sauce thickens, stirring frequently. Stir in the grated cheese at the end.

Top the eggplant and lamb mixture casserole with the Béchamel.  Sprinkle with the fresh Oregano and chopped Mint.  Reserve some for garnish if desired.  Top with crumbled feta.

Preheat your grill to 400 degrees.  Bake your casserole in a grill-safe pan for about 25 minutes or until slightly browned.  You can open and close the lid to adjust or retain the heat.  Kick back and have a cool glass of iced tea while you sit on the porch and watch your grill.

Let casserole rest for ten minutes before serving.   Top with fresh chopped parsley and reserved herbs if desired.




Note:  You’ve got to have a spinach salad with Greek Olives, tomatoes and feta with this dish, and don’t forget a glass of red wine!  Red wine and this dish are a match made in heaven.

Wine Pairing:  I suggest Lakeridge Reserve Cuvee Noir*.  This wine has a deep burgundy color and just a hint of oak (winemaker’s secret, as it’s made in stainless steel tanks).  The spices in this wine work wonderfully with the rich flavors of this dish.  

Find this wine at  http://www.lakeridgewinery.com/ *

Note about cooking with wine:   If you drink better or pricier wines, or you’re concerned about using what you plan to drink up in the food if you’ve got a lot of people to serve, here’s a tip I go by --   Try to find decent wines that are on sale for cooking.  Select a slightly better or higher quality wine with similar characteristics to drink with the meal.

I found a California Merlot  wine which was on sale 2 bottles for $9.00.   I only bought the one bottle for $4.50.  I used it in this dish and then pumped the air out.  Corked and refrigerated, it should last the remainder of the week  for cooking.  I served the Cuvee Noir with this dish.  The flavors of the two wines (the Merlot in the food and the wine we were drinking) complimented each other just fine.

Not a paid endorsement for the wine.
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