Moussaka or Something Like It
I’ve been wanting to make moussaka since way back at Greekfest, but have been avoiding it due to the unending sauna-like weather of the past few months.
Now, I’m not tryin to say I eat only light and airy foods all summer (see: fetuccini alfredo at the beach), but it just hasn’t seemed right to make this very meat-y, very chees-ey warming dish in this kind of heat.
Still, I absolutely love the idea of layering meat with eggplant – it’s just not fair that vegetarians get to have all the eggplant-fun – us meatlovers should be able to get in on the act too.
So I started thinking about screwing around with the ingredients of moussaka, and poked around the interwebs a little bit to see if this would be considered sacrilegious. To my surprise and glee, it appears to be completely kosher to screw around with the moussaka ingredients.
While the true Athenian moussaka is made with ground lamb or beef and topped with a thick, bechamel-like sauce, it seems every town from Syria to Sardinia has their own way of making moussaka, subbing in all kinds of crazy ingredients: artichokes, potatoes, even ground eggplant instead of meat – that’s eggplant layered on eggplant! (Grecian experts – true or untrue? Can the moussaka be effed with? leave your beef in the comments.)
So for my made-up version, I used ground chicken instead of meat, used fresh tomatoes instead of a thick marinara sauce, and made a topping of parmesan and crushed pine nuts instead of that gooey, creamy deliciousness.
Pine nut crusted chicken mousakka
Cut 1 eggplant into 1/4 inch round slices. Lay the slices out on a baking sheet and brush each side with a little EVOO. Broil the eggplant, about seven minutes on each side, until golden-brown.
Meanwhile, saute 1 onion in EVOO, and add in 1 pound of ground chicken. Add a few cloves of chopped garlic and season with salt, pepper and crushed red pepper.
Slice 3 portobella mushroomsand saute them in a separate pan.
Thinly slice 4 vine tomatoes.
Also thinly slice three boiled potatoes. (I had leftovers, but these can be ommited if you don’t want to put in the time and e).
When your eggplant, chicken, and mushrooms are all ready, set the oven down to 400.
Brush the bottom of a glass pyrex dish with EVOO. Layer 1/2 of your eggplant across the bottom of the dish. Top with all of the chicken, then layer the mushrooms, and follow with a layer of the remaining eggplant.
Next add a layer of the potatoes, then the tomatoes. Cover with foil and pop it in the oven for 30 mins.
While that’ s going on, grate 1/2 cup of parm and toast 1/2 cup of pine nuts. Crush the pine nuts (with the back of a spoon, a mug, your hands, or some sort of amazing unitasker – any ideas?)
Remove the moussaka and sprinkle the cheese and nuts over the top. Return to the oven for 10 mins.
is it time we give “pine nuts” their own tag?