Tag Archives: mushroom

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.
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Cheap-o Frittata

This.city.is.expensive. (I am not being ungrateful, God. I am grateful for the blessing of work in these economically harsh times—really I am!).

Suffice to say, things are tight right now. I’m doing mental math with my salary all the time and wondering where I can cut back (even more) and still enjoy life.

So this is what I’ve come up with so far.

-Bag lunch it to work: WAS doing really good with this—lunching on wholesome fruit salad in a nearby park—but with SF’s temperamental weather moods, I end up buying. Actually, since I only ever order a single bagel+butter ($1.55), it feels more like I’m renting a table to sit and read at for 30 minutes.

-Go out less: I hate this one.

-$40 weekly grocery budget: I was even toying with cutting that to $30. I haven’t tested out $40 yet, but I think it’s going to be tough. Maybe I should go back to non-organic.

Why is eating organic so dang expensive? This is why I avoided all organic craziness for so long (I recently gave in after seeing Food, Inc.)—you can’t be a have-not if you want to enjoy non-genetically modified food. Nevertheless, I’m determined to try.

-Eat in and cook with what I have, not with what I want: Eating in is not the problem. Even if it’s just me, I really enjoy the effort that goes into making a warm, colorful, flavorful meal for myself. It’s the trips to the grocery store before cooking that are the problem. So, I’ve decided to try to be more resourceful with the food I have already at home.

Today I successfully avoided going to Trader Joe’s after work and came up with a pretty good go-to meal for myself.

Mushroom-Corn Frittata with Goat Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomatoes Served with a Tomato Salad with Balsamic-Olive Oil Vinaigrette

Sounds nice, right? It was!

I don’t have one of those oven-safe pans, so after pan-frying the veggies, I poured the whisked eggs/milk on top and covered the whole thing with a lid. A few minutes in, I sprinkled in the goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes and let it finish cooking. And when I removed the lid, I had a light, fluffy frittata—steamed on top and golden on the bottom.

Organic Mushroom-Corn Frittata with Goat Cheese and Sun-Dried Tomatoes Served with a Tomato Salad with Balsamic-Olive Oil Vinaigrette

Serves 1

INGREDIENTS

Frittata:

olive oil, for frying

1/2 small onion, sliced thinly

1 clove garlic, minced finely

3 mushrooms, sliced (I used brown cremini)

1/4 cup frozen corn kernels

2 large eggs

splash of milk (I used non-fat)

1 tbsp sun-dried tomatoes in oil, sliced

1 tbsp soft goat cheese, crumbled

salt & pepper

Tomato Salad

2 Roma Tomatoes, sliced

extra virgin olive oil

balsamic vinegar

salt & pepper

1 tbsp goat cheese, crumbled

INSTRUCTIONS

Tomato Salad:

  1. Slice the tomatoes and layer them on a plate.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Then, pour over the tomatoes. (Didn’t bother with the bowl and poured the individual ingredients directly over the tomatoes.)
  3. Top with crumbled goat cheese. Set aside (to marinate) while you prepare the frittata.

Frittata:

  1. Pre-heat a small (I think mine is 5″) non-stick pan on medium-high. In a little olive oil, fry the onion, garlic and mushrooms until softened and browned. (The higher heat is necessary because of the high water-content in mushrooms.) Sprinkle in a little salt and pepper to taste. (I always add salt later in the cooking process, as salt draws out water.)
  2. While the mushrooms, onions and garlic are frying, whisk together 2 eggs, a splash of milk and salt & pepper in a small bowl.
  3. Into the pan, stir in the corn, allowing to just heat through. Then, distribute the vegetables in the pan, so that the entire bottom is covered.
  4. Pour in the egg/milk mixture, making sure to cover all the vegetables. Place a lid on top and allow to steam for 2 minutes.
  5. Remove the lid. Sprinkle the sliced sun-dried tomatoes and crumbled goat cheese on top. Replace the cover and steam for another 3-4 minutes.
  6. Fold the frittata onto the plate with your tomato salad and ENJOY!