Tag Archives: eggplant

Mushroom and Roasted Eggplant Moussaka

This moussaka was my veggie main for Thanksgiving. I made it for my mom (who’s actually pescatarian) and my friend S. who joined us for dinner. She brought along her amazingly talented chef husband and also her little sweet pea, baby V. (We all took turns staring at and holding him. He in turn entertained himself by staring at the kitchen light and spitting up on me.) Anyway, moussaka is perhaps a bit unconventional for the holidays, but we are an unconventional family. Besides, who cares about tradition—this is awesome.

Recipes involving both cooking and baking are often labeled “laborious” and “time-consuming”. I don’t think so; actually, I think those kinds of dishes are total time-savers, especially on days when you know the oven is going to be occupied most of the time by a big, fat turkey. (I had to negotiate with my dad for oven time. He takes his turkey verrrry seriously.) They also have more complex flavors because of the multi-stage prep and cooking time. I roasted the eggplant the night before, made both red and white sauces and assembled the gratin in the morning, and then didn’t think about it again until the turkey came out hours later, at which point I shoved it in the oven and baked it for an hour. See, not complicated; just requires a little organization!

Time-consuming or not, it was delicious. CookThink says the mushrooms “are so rich and meaty” that you won’t miss the meat, and it’s true! I’m sure my mom and S. didn’t miss anything; and I don’t think the rest of us did either. The superstar of the mushroom sauce, though, was really the spice combination of cinnamon, allspice and oregano. Aromatic and bold, they are what truly make the sauce. As for the eggplant, I saw a few versions, in which it is breaded and pan-fried, like in eggplant parmigiana, but I liked them roasted. Maybe I’ll try it that way next time when there’s less competition, i.e. no turkey. One more thing to note is that unlike with lasagna, the bechamel sauce goes on top of the layered veggies. It’s flavor—nutty from the nutmeg and salty from the parmesan—is just as important as the vegetables in bringing the dish together.

This was fun! Too bad I forgot to take photos…guess I was too busy eating. 😛

Enjoy!

Mushroom and Roasted Eggplant Moussaka (recipe adapted from Janet is Hungry and  CookThink)

printable recipe

Serves 6-8

INGREDIENTS

Mushroom Sauce

1/4 cup olive oil

2 medium eggplants, cut into 1/4″ thick slices

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

1 lb button mushrooms, sliced

2 large tomatoes

1/4 cup dry white wine

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, or more if necessary

1/2 tsp ground allspice, or more if necessary

1/2 tsp oregano, or more if necessary

1/2 cup chopped parsley

2 tbsp tomato paste

salt and pepper to taste

Bechamel Sauce

4 tbsp unsalted butter

1/2 cup flour

2 1/2 cups milk (I used 1%, but any will do, even skim)

1/2-3/4 cup grated parmesan

salt and pepper to taste

Topping

3/4 cup bread crumbs (I made my own with 2 slices of my half-white bread)

METHOD

Mushroom Sauce

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease 2 baking sheets with the olive oil, and arrange the eggplant slices on top in a single layer. Douse and season each side with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake, turning once, 20 minutes. (I did 20 minutes on each side; I wanted them really roasted. And then I wrapped them in foil to continue steaming until cooled.)
  2. Plunge tomatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds, then refresh in cold water. Peel and chop roughly.
  3. Heat some olive oil over medium-high heat and add onions, garlic and mushrooms. Cook until mushrooms are soft, 15-20 minutes.
  4. Add tomatoes, cinnamon, allspice, tomato paste, parsley, wine, salt and pepper to the mushroom mixture. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and then cover and simmer or 15-30 minutes, or until it tastes right.

Bechamel Sauce

  1. While the red sauce is simmering, prepare the bechamel. Melt butter in a large saucepan. Stir in flour and cook for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and slowly stir in milk. Return to heat and whisk until sauce thickens. Stir in nutmeg and Parmesan. Again, remove from heat and set aside.

Assembly

  1. Spoon alternating layers into a greased 9″x13″ baking dish. Start with a layer of eggplant, then half the mushroom mixture. Then another layer of eggplant, and the second half of the mushroom mixture. Finish with a layer of eggplant.
  2. Spread sauce over last layer of eggplant and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Bake at 350 F covered with an aluminum foil tent for 45 minutes, then remove the foil and bake an additional 15 minutes until golden. Let sit 5-10 minutes before serving.

Honey Mustard Red Cabbage Salad with Sauteed Chicken, Eggplant and Zucchini

I’ve been eating a lot of red cabbage and cilantro these past few weeks. For two reasons: they’re totally budget-friendly (1 head of cabbage and 1 bunch of cilantro lasts me an entire week) as well as figure-friendly, or at least that’s what my mom and sister say. They both swear they’ve lost inches off their waistlines just by replacing lettuce with cabbage. Save money AND lose weight? Sounds good to me.

This salad was so awesome. Super crunchy from the red cabbage, kicky from the cilantro and sweet from the dressing. I made the dressing with non-fat greek-style yogurt instead of mayonnaise, and I sauteed the chicken thigh, eggplant and zucchini in only a drizzle of olive oil. So fat content is pretty minimal as well. You can of course play around with ingredient combination. I use canned tuna a lot or go completely vegetarian and use sweet potato instead.

Try this. It’s AMAZING.

Honey Mustard Red Cabbage Salad with Sauteed Chicken, Eggplant and Zucchini

Serves 1.

INGREDIENTS

Salad

1 chicken thigh, trimmed and patted dry with a paper towel

1/4 cup zucchini, sliced

1 round slice of eggplant, halved

a drizzle of olive oil

salt and pepper

1 cup red cabbage, thinly sliced

1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped

1/8 cup red onion, finely chopped

1 oz blue cheese, crumbled

Honey Mustard Dressing

1 large tbsp non-fat greek-style yogurt

juice of 1/2 small lemon

1 tsp mustard (any style)

1 tsp sugar or honey

salt and pepper, to taste

METHOD

  1. Put the sliced zucchini and eggplant in an unzipped Ziploc bag and microwave for 1 minute. Remove and set aside.
  2. In a pre-heated non-stick skillet, fry the chicken thigh in a little olive oil, ca. 2 min. Do not move or flip during this time. Grind salt and pepper over the top.
  3. Then, flip the chicken and push to the side. Put in the zucchini and eggplant. Grind a little salt and pepper over the vegetables and other side of the chicken. Fry for about 2 minutes, moving the vegetables around to ensure even browning.
  4. Turn off the heat and let sit for a few minutes while you prepare the salad and dressing.
  5. In a medium-sized salad bowl, combine and mix together all dressing ingredients. Add the chopped onion, cabbage, cilantro and crumbled blue cheese and toss to coat.
  6. Slice the chicken at an angle. Put the salad on a large salad plate, topping with the sauteed veggies and sliced chicken. Grind a little more salt and pepper over top.

Ratatouille Stuffed Crepes Gratin

Some people are natural-born hosts. I am not one of these people. I stress about who to invite, whether they’re going have things to talk about or even LIKE each other, what to make, what drinks to serve, and, and and…

This Saturday’s potluck dinner was no different: I was late, people couldn’t find parking, my cheesecake didn’t gel properly. And, to make things worse: roommate drama. Major. (FYI: It has since been resolved. :D) Everything came together in the end, though. Awesome food and wine and scintillating conversation with my favoritest people in the city.

The baking and cooking part during the day was good too—actually, it was great. 3 straight hours of uninterrupted slicing, frying, stirring and baking. I finally got to use the frozen lucuma I brought back from Lima for a lucuma cheesecake (will post recipe soon). I also got to make this lovely vegetarian gratin (inspired by this recipe found on In Praise of Sardines)—I’ve been baking so much lately that I forgot how good it feels to be able to cook by feeling and not have to measure anything.

The original recipe is vegan, including the socca crepes which use chickpea flour instead of all purpose. My version isn’t vegan and is also a gratin. Visualize braised-all-day veggies wrapped in light-as-air crepes, smothered in creamy bechamel, and baked until golden on top and a melting pot of flavors in the middle. Love it.

Enjoy.

Ratatouille Stuffed Crepes Gratin (adapted from In Praise of Sardines and Epicurious.com)

Makes one 9×13 gratin dish, ca. 10 servings

INGREDIENTS

Ratatouille Filling:

1 lb any combination of red, yellow and/or orange bell peppers

1 lb zucchini

1 lb eggplant (I used the entire eggplant, ca. 1.2 lbs)

1/2 lb red onions

6 cloves garlic

4-6 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp dried basil (would have used herbes de provence if I had had it)

1 tsp dried rosemary

salt and pepper, to taste

Crepes:

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

1 1/2 cups milk (I used non-fat)

1 large egg

2 egg yolks

1 tsp olive oil

Bechamel:

1 tbsp unsalted butter

1/4 cup all purpose flour

2 cups milk (non-fat is fine)

salt and pepper, to taste

pinch of freshly grated nutmeg, to taste

Assembly:

handful grated parmesan

1 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

METHOD

Ratatouille

  1. Bring a medium sized pot of water to a boil.
  2. Roast the peppers over a barbecue grill, the gas flame on your stove, or under your broiler until black and blistered all over. Place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a plate to allow to continue cooking in their own steam. When cool, peel off skin (use a paper towel if needed). Seed and cut into one-inch pieces, preferably triangles.
  3. Cut the zucchini and eggplant into one-inch pieces. Place eggplant pieces in a colander over a sink or bowl and sprinkle lavishly with salt. Allow to sit for at least half an hour.
  4. Cut out a cone-shaped piece from the tops of the tomatoes and mark the bottoms with an X. In the boiling water, blanch the tomatoes for 20-30 seconds. Allow to cool briefly, then peel off and discard the skin. Cut tomatoes into one-inch pieces.
  5. Dice the onions into 1/2-inch pieces and slice the garlic as thinly as possible. In a large, shallow pan over medium-low heat, sweat the onions in 2-3 tablespoons of the oil, covered, for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. After a few minutes, season the onions with salt. If the onions start to color, reduce the heat to low. Add garlic, cover, and cook 15 more minutes until meltingly tender. Remove the lid and add the herbs, the tomatoes and the cut peppers. Turn the heat up to medium and cook for about 10 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, in another pan (preferably non-stick) large enough to hold all the zucchini in one layer, sauté the zucchini in 1-2 tablespoon oil over high heat. Your goal is to caramelize the zucchini all over, without letting it burn or cook all the way through. It should take about 5 minutes. Remove from pan, season with salt, and set aside when done.
  7. When the tomatoes and peppers have cooked for about 10 minutes, add the zucchini. Cook for about 5 minutes until almost tender then add the eggplant and cook 5 more minutes until all the vegetables are tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.Using several paper towels, gently squeeze the eggplant dry. Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan and sauté the eggplant as you did the zucchini, for about 5 minutes until caramelized.
  8. When the tomatoes and peppers have cooked for about 10 minutes, add the zucchini. Cook for about 5 minutes until almost tender then add the eggplant and cook 5 more minutes until all the vegetables are tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Turn off the heat, cover and let sit for a few hours, in order for the flavors to “marry”.

Crepes

  1. Sift together flour, salt, nutmeg, and pepper to taste into a bowl. Whisk together milk, whole egg, and yolk in a small bowl, then gradually whisk into flour mixture.
  2. Heat a dry 7- to 8-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until hot. Spoon about 2 tablespoons batter into skillet, tilting to coat bottom. (If batter sets before skillet is coated, reduce heat slightly for next crepe.) Cook until underside is lightly browned, 6 to 10 seconds, then loosen crepe with a spatula and flip. Cook until just cooked through, about 20 seconds, and transfer to a plate. Make 10-12 more crepes in the same manner.

Bechamel Sauce

  1. Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the butter and let it melt. Whisk in the flour, stirring constantly to avoid burning. Allow the mixture to cook for about 1 minute.
  2. Whisk in 1/2 cup of the milk, again stirring constantly to fully incorporate ingredients and also to avoid scalding.
  3. Once the mixture is smooth and already starting to thicken, add in the remaining 1 1/2 cups milk as well as the salt, pepper and grated nutmeg. Reduce the heat to low and whisk until thick. Remove from heat. (The sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.)

Assembly

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 F (oven rack in the center). In a 9×13-inch gratin dish, ladle in half of the bechamel sauce, making sure to coat the bottom completely.
  2. Spread 1/4 cup ratatouille filling across the center of 1 crepe and roll into a cylinder. Fold in the ends and transfer, seam side down, to the baking dish. Assemble the remaining crepes in the same manner, fitting them snugly. (You’ll probably have leftover crepes and filling.)
  3. Pour the remaining bechamel on top of the crepes, spreading evenly. Sprinkle grated parmesan over. Distribute the butter pieces evenly on top. Cover with a foil tent.
  4. Bake for 1 hour. Remove the foil. Broil on high for 5-10 minutes, or until golden on top.
  5. Remove from the oven and let sit for at least 15 minutes before serving.