So, clearly I've not posted in a while. Basically, I just kept putting it off and putting it off and whoa, before I knew it, it'd been months since I posted. Relocating from Florida to California meant forming a whole new routine. I worked back in my rituals for training, taking care of my pups, and so forth, but in doing so I kind of fell out of the habit of blogging. But, it's important to me; I love it and I miss it and it's long overdue that I get back to posting. I found a boxing gym, resumed powerlifting and did a meet, accidentally got addicted to CrossFit oops, found a better way to spend my morning commute, and I'm still eschewing grains in favor of meat and veggies. I'm loving the mountains, the weather, the farmers markets, the ridiculously low-priced artichokes and avocados, the incredible array of ethnic cuisines, and generally enjoying California. So I'm still doin' me, still cooking, still training hard. I just need to share it with you guys :) (As an aside, if you're still reading I'd love it if you leave a message in the comments just so I know that you folks are still out there...)
But enough about me. It's recipe time!
Every time I go to a Greek restaurant, I see moussaka on the menu and I want to order it. Anything with roasted eggplant is a huge win for me. I love it when it gets all brown on the outside and creamy on the inside...top it with cinnamon-kissed lamb and it's Erica-heaven. Problem is, it's normally topped with a bechamel sauce which includes lots of dairy and flour and sometimes breadcrumbs. However, I found inspiration for a solution in, of all things, a pasta recipe on a vegan dessert blog. An "alfredo" sauce based on almond milk, thickened with pureed cauliflower instead of flour? Sounds promising. I also added some eggs for body which worked incredibly well.
This recipe is kind of time-consuming, but it's easy to make, and as a bonus the leftovers taste even better the next day.
Serves about 6
- 1 large or 2 medium globe eggplants (2-3 lbs)
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk or other milk of choice (I think lite coconut milk would work well)
- 1.5 cups frozen cauliflower
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 3 eggs
- 2 lbs ground lamb (can substitute ground beef, turkey, or a combination...I often use half ground lamb, half ground turkey since lamb is so pricey)
- 1 medium onion, diced (about a cup)
- 4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground allspice
- 1 Tbs red wine vinegar
- 1 Tbs freshly-squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 2 Tbs minced fresh parsley, divided
- 1 28 oz can tomato puree
- Olive oil for cooking
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400 F. Slice the eggplant into 1/2" thick rounds. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Brush both sides of the eggplant slices with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake for about 25 minutes. Remove the eggplant from the oven to cool, but keep the oven at 400.
- While the eggplant is roasting, make the meat sauce. Heat a bit of olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute until it is just starting to turn translucent. Add the meat and garlic, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon. Brown until no pink remains and juices are clear. Drain the grease (I use a turkey baster for this). Add the cinnamon, allspice, oregano, lemon juice, vinegar, tomato puree, and half of the parsley. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook uncovered on low until the sauce has thickened with no watery puree, at least 10 minutes but preferably 20-30. Set aside.
- Next, make the bechamel sauce. Bring the cauliflower, almond milk, garlic powder, and a generous pinch of salt to a boil in a saucepan. Once it's boiling, cover and simmer on low for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and blend with the eggs. I used an immersion blender; first I blended the cauliflower smooth, then blended in the eggs one at a time, working quickly to ensure that the eggs don't poach in the sauce. It will look like a gross foamy mess at this point, but fear not!
- Brush a 13"x9" pan with olive oil. Layer the eggplant slices on the bottom, slightly overlapping. Spread the meat mixture evenly over the eggplant. Slowly pour the bechamel sauce evenly over the top, pouring carefully to ensure that it doesn't disturb the meat layer and instead stays on top. Bake uncovered for about 25 minutes or until the top is browned in spots. Sprinkle the top with the remaining parsley, cut into squares, and serve.