Of late, everyone I know is seriously getting into Mediterranean food. My friend Nix and I have been to Cyma where the roka salata (arugula salad with candied walnuts) is divine and the dessert sampler pure Olympian ambrosia. I have friends who get into heated debates as to whether or not Cyma’s gyros (Greek shawarma-style wraps; also known as souvlaki) can hold a candle to those of Cafe Mediterranean (and the debates are starting to look like family squabbles from My Big, Fat Greek Wedding!). My parents make it a point to have the hummus at California Pizza Kitchen and a certain sweet person with a raging sweet tooth laments the closure of a certain baklava stall formerly found at the Power Plant Mall. (Stop sniveling, darling; I’ll learn how to make the stuff – soon, I hope…) I also know several people who will do anything for the perfect kebab or a truly good tzatsiki dribbled over fresh pita bread.
At home, however, the Greek dish of choice is moussaka, that glorious Mediterranean gratin with layer upon layer of good things. I’d like to think of it as lasagna with a pronounced Grecian accent; plus, it’s a great way to get more vegetables in your diet – all that eggplant: YUM!
Like its Italian counterpart, it takes quite a bit of work. Still, in any case, the recipe I am sharing with you is relatively easy and its really good. One other thing: you learn two dishes here rather than just one. To make pastitsio, Greek-style baked macaroni, replace part of or all the eggplant and potato with your choice of pasta prepared according to package instructions.
2 eggplants, sliced diagonally into 1/2-inch slices
2 potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 kilo ground pork, beef, or lamb
1 large pack tomato sauce
1/4 cup red wine
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 recipe bechamel sauce (Note: see the entry for fusilli al forno from my old blog for this or use your own)
50 grams Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees/Gas Mark 5. Dry-fry the eggplant slices until lightly browned; set aside. Saute onions and garlic in olive oil. Add the ground meat and cook until browned, draining off excess fat when done. Stir in the wine, tomato sauce, herbs, and cinnamon and bring to a boil. Allow to cool a little, then add the beaten egg until well combined. In a buttered baking dish, layer ingredients in the following sequence: eggplant, meat mixture, and potatoes. Repeat until all ingredients have been used. Top with the bechamel sauce and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes. Serves 6.
Make this meal a totally Greek experience by serving it with a Greek salad (Romaine lettuce, tomatoes, olives, and feta cheese with a light vinaigrette), rice, a good red wine, and a fine baklava for dessert. (Yes, dear: I will learn how to make baklava – so quit whining already!)