Eggplant is a vegetable that is a bit of a culinary chameleon. Mild in flavour, it can lend itself to many other ingredients. It can also vary in texture depending on how it’s prepared.
Eggplant and it’s many varieties are used extensively in Mediterranean cooking and this week I’m providing a meatless version of Greek moussaka.
This dish typically includes ground lamb, along with eggplant and tomatoes. The topping is a creamy béchamel sauce.
This version features meaty, Portobello mushrooms in place of the ground lamb along with chickpeas to add some texture and substance. The topping is a mashed potato and cheese combination.
The seasonings that make it a classic “Greek” dish include garlic, oregano and cinnamon.
This easy dish can be prepared ahead and warmed up before serving. It would be ideal served with a salad of mixed greens dressed with fresh lemon juice and a bold extra virgin olive oil.
Vegetarian moussaka would be a great addition to the upcoming Easter celebration.
2 medium eggplant (total weight about 3 lbs)
1/2 c. (125 ml) extra virgin olive oil
5 russet potatoes peeled and diced (about 2 lbs.)
1/4 c. (50 ml) olive oil
1/2 c. (125 ml) milk
1 cup (250 ml) of grated Romano cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 stalk celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
12 oz. Portobello mushrooms sliced (about 6 cups (1.5L) )
1 tbsp. (15 ml) dried oregano
1 tsp. (5 ml) cinnamon
1 -28 oz. (796 ml) can of crushed tomatoes
1 – 19 oz. (540 ml) can of chickpeas, drained
salt and pepper to taste
Slice eggplant into 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) rounds. Place in single layer on two baking sheets. Brush with half of the olive oil.
Roast in a 400 F. (200C) oven for about 30 – 35 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and let cool. Reduce heat to 350F. (180C)
While eggplant is roasting, cook potatoes in a large pot of salted water until tender. Reserve 1/2 c. (125 ml) of the cooking liquid. Drain potatoes. Return to pot. Add reserved water, 1/4 c. (50 ml) olive oil, milk and cheese. Mash. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
In a sauté pan, heat remaining olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic and mushrooms. Cook, stirring frequently until carrot and celery are soft.
Stir in the oregano, cinnamon, tomatoes and chickpeas. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
In a 13 x 9 greased ovenproof dish, layer half of the eggplant on the bottom.
Spoon half of the tomato/chickpea mixture on top followed by remainder of eggplant.
Spoon remainder of tomato/chick pea mixture on top of that.
Top with potato mixture. Drizzle a bit of olive oil.
Bake in oven for 35-45 minutes or until potatoes are light golden.
Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Recipe sourceRecipe: Vegetarian moussaka with extra virgin olive oil,