Thursday, October 1, 2009

"Moussaka"

I've never actually had "real" moussaka. I see it on menus at Greek restaurants, sure, but as I didn't grow up eating meat, I'm still not completely comfortable with trying foreign meat items on menus. Still, I love potatoes, especially in their mashed form, and I need a recommendation from SOMEONE, anyone, who knows where, in NY, I can get a good authentic moussaka.

Anyway, without knowing what moussaka is
supposed to taste like, I attempted low-ish fat, vegetarian moussaka tonight (hence the quotation marks in the title), with Voluptuous Vegan as a guide. Note, my rendition is NOT vegan, but I admire people who take the time to create entire menus of vegan cuisine. It can be quite tricky. My end result was remarkably tasty (ask my parents!), but I'm not sure it would actually qualify as moussaka if served to a blindfolded contestant asked to Name That Dish!

Regardless, for a filling but not-too-heavy meal with protein and veggies galore, check out below!

Vegetarian "Moussaka"

Here's how this is going to go. We're gonna end up assembling as a bottom layer eggplant, then a layer seitan/mushroom, then potatoes. Then layer zucchini, layer seitan/mushroom, then potatoes. Then a pour of bechamel, if using, and a heavy sprinkling of breadcrumbs. This is a good recipe to make when you have more than just your lonesome self cooking in the kitchen, because with a possible 5 separate jobs, each person can do something, and not get in each other's way.

1st Job
1 lb baby eggplant, sliced lengthwise, 1/4" thick, salted (to remove bitterness) and placed in a colander to drain, for about 20 min
3 zucchinis, sliced lengthwise, 1/4" thick
salt
olive oil
pepper

2nd Job
5 small russet potatoes, washed but not peeled
1 c organic milk
scant 1/4 c olive oil
salt
white pepper
black pepper

3rd Job
8 oz "chicken style" seitan (or plain if you can't find chicken style)
2 destemmed portabello mushrooms
3/4 large onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, diced
pinch cinnamon
1 t cumin
15 oz can whole peeled plum tomatoes, chopped or squeezed by hand, juices reserved

(Optional 4th and 5th jobs)
breadcrumbs*

bechamel*

1. Ok. Job 1 is farely simple. Dab the wetness off the salted eggplant. Brush olive oil on the front and back of each slice. Do the same for the zucchini. Layer both (should fit together on one parchment-lined baking sheet) on pan, add sprinkle of salt and pepper. Cook in oven on 375 for 25 min. Set aside.

2. Job 2 is also quite easy, hands free. Wash your potatoes. Throw them in a pot of water. Bring to boil. Boil for about 30 min, or until soft. Drain water. Mash potatoes with 1 c milk, olive oil, and salt and peppers, to taste. Set aside.

3. Job 3 takes more effort. Begin to cook onion in oil in cast-iron skillet. Sautee until translucent. While onion cooks, pulse mushrooms and seitan to itty-bitty pieces i
n a food processor. Add this mixture to the onion, and sautee about 15 min. Add the rest of the ingredients under Job 3. Mixture will be quite liquidy to start. Cook on medium-high heat until most moisture has evaporated and mix has thickened, about 25 min.

Jobs 4+5 are optional, but tasty.
Breadcrumbs were made by food processing 3 old whole wheat pitas with some olive oil, 2 cloves garlic, and herbs de provence, yielding me about 2 c seasoned bread crumbs. 1 c was sprinkled on top of the last layer of potato, the other half is in a container in the freezer, for later.

Bechamel is also very optional. In fact, you can look up your own recipe or just ignore this step. I ended up using very very little of mine and, if anything, I think it only added moisture. If you think your dish will be dry, make you potatoes wetter, or something.

Assemble as directed above (funny instructions, I know), and bake at 350 for 30 min. Rest 10 min. Serve. Enjoy!

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