Thursday, October 10, 2013

Vegetarian Moussaka

Vegetarian Moussaka
Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine

Moussaka, a Greek eggplant casserole, is traditionally made with ground lamb. Fine bulgur is used in place of the ground lamb to make this a vegetarian version of moussaka. It's hearty, savory and delicious. It is a great dish to make ahead and reheat later. I loved this dish a lot and is planning to include this vegetarian dish for our Christmas dinner.

Three eggplants, unpeeled, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices (about 3 to 3-1/2 pounds)
2 cups chopped yellow onion (10.3 ounces)
4 large garlic cloves, minced (0.8 ounce)
3/4 cup uncooked fine bulgur (4.5 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
One 14.5-ounce can fire-roasted, no-salt diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste (1.0 ounce)
2 cups vegetable stock (16 ounces)
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons butter (1.0 ounce)
4 tablespoons whole-wheat pastry flour (0.8 ounce)
2 cups 2% reduced-fat milk (16 ounces)
4 tablespoons finely grated fresh Parmesan cheese (0.8 ounce)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper

Preheat broiler to 475 degrees or high. Position oven rack to be able to broil the eggplant slices 5 inches from the heat source.

Line a shallow-rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place one-third of the eggplant slices onto the foil in a single layer.

Brush each eggplant slices with olive oil. NOTE: Eggplants tend to soak up olive oil very easily like a sponge. To use minimal amount of oil, dip only the very tip of the pastry brush with olive oil and brush each eggplant slice. By dipping the very tip of the pastry brush, the olive oil will go a long way. I was able to stretch 1 tablespoon of olive oil for the entire batch of eggplant slices.

Broil 5 inches away from the heat source for 5 minutes or until browned on the first side. Leave the oven door slighly ajar when broiling?! I have always left the oven door slightly ajar when broiling and it seemed to work perfectly for my eggplant slices. You decide!
Remove eggplant from the oven and turn each slice over. Brush the second side with more olive oil and broil for anther 5 minutes or until browned. Transfer eggplant slices to a plate and repeat the broiling process with the remainder of the eggplant slices.
NOTE: While I am broiling eggplant slices, I always do an extra eggplant so I can eat it for my lunch. I like to package eggplant slices and eat it with hummus. I spread some hummus on each slice and fold it or roll it up and eat it like a taco.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat (7.0 for induction cook top) until hot. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to skillet and swirl pan to coat the bottom. Add the chopped onions and saute onions, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute for additional 1 minute.

Add the bulgur and continue to cook for 3 minutes or until bulgur is lightly toasted, stirring frequently. Add the allspice, cinnamon, cloves, salt and black pepper. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Stir in the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, vegetable broth and oregano. When mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat to simmer (4.0 to 3.0 on induction cook top) mixture for 20 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally, smashing large chunks of tomatoes to break them up.

While bulgur mixture is simmering, make the bechamel sauce. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. With a wire whisk, whisk in the flour, salt and white pepper. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly with a wire whisk. Gradually add the milk, stirring constantly with a wire whisk. When mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low (3.0 on induction cook top) and continue to cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently with a wire whisk. Whisk in cheese and remove from heat. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Position oven rack to the center of the oven.
Lightly spray an 11-inch by 7-inch size rectangular baking dish (I used a Le Creuset 9-1/2-inch by 14-inch size cast-iron baking dish) with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange half of the eggplant slices on the bottom of the baking dish, slightly overlapping slices.

Spread the bulgur mixture evenly over the eggplant slices.

Arrange the remainder of the eggplant slices over the bulgur mixture, slightly overlapping slices.

Top the eggplant slices witt the bechamel sauce.

Bake, uncovered, for 40 minutes. Remove dish from oven. Increase oven temperature to 475 degrees. When oven reaches 475 degrees, return dish to the oven and bake for additional 4 minutes or until top is lightly browned. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Yield 6 to 8 servings.