Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Moussaka (grain-free, dairy-free!)

Uhhhhmm...hi :)

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.

MOUSSAKA
Serves about 6

INGREDIENTS

  • 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
DIRECTIONS
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!
  4. 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.

23 comments:

Tara @ Sweat like a Pig said...

I'm still reading! This looks amazing!! Can't wait to try it :D

Shelley 417 said...

I am so glad you are back and that all is well. Your recipes are top notch and I have missed reading your blog. Welcome back!!!

Anonymous said...

Still reading! Glad to see you back, and looking forward to more recipes. :-)

Anonymous said...

Glad you are back and enjoying CA. Looking forward to trying this! Lynlee

My Place said...

I bet the mountains are breath taking! I'm so glad you are finding your way around the new area. Finding an Awesome Farmers Market is a sign you're doing well.
I would love to get into boxing; thought of it many times. I think it would do me wonders :)
~Tash

April said...

I don't even like eggplant but I clicked on this recipe to I could read what you were up to- I'm glad you are back! :-)

Anonymous said...

Glad you are back too. I had to change readers and was just thinking the other day that maybe your site didn't transfer after google reader shut down. I appreciate your recipes!

Patty said...

I've been tempted to hunt you down on several occasions but had a hunch that it was just taking some time to settle in. You've definitely been missed and glad to see you back with more delicious chow!

Anonymous said...

still reading! Cal Train! would love to see posts about your adventures in CA too.

fbomb said...

Yay! You're back! We should meet up now that you're in the Bay Area. :)

Anonymous said...

still reading, love your recipes!

Erica said...

Thanks so much everyone for commenting :D

Tara- I still need to catch up on your blog (all of the blogs, really...) I hope that paleo is working out well for you :)

Shelley 417- Awesome, glad that you like the recipes!

Tash- You're very right about being surrounded by mountains, especially after living in Florida for so long. Definitely give boxing a shot, even if it's just a boxing-for-fitness class! It's an amazing workout and great stress relief :)

April- Give eggplant a shot roasted if you haven't had it that way! Totally different texture!

Patty- Glad to be back :)

fbomb (nom/bomb?)- Yes!! Drop me an email or Facebook message and let me know when you're free!

kamapuaa said...

Great to see you back!

e4482380-c4ae-11e2-b788-000bcdcb2996 said...

I have been checking back religiously! So glad to see you back :) I am vegetarian and paleo (as I can be sans meat) and I get a lot of great ideas and recipes from your blog! I often have to make some tweaks to be veg but always tasty!

Marianne said...

Another happy fan here, delighted to see you posting again. Now that it's starting to be peach & cherry season in the Bay Area I hope you're going to like it even more!

Anonymous said...

Hi Erica! Someone just referred to your blog on "the board" (you know where!) which made me think to check your blog. Glad to see you're doing well and loving CA. I bet you're kicking butt at CF!
We miss your posts you-know-where.
Kris

Anonymous said...

This was absolutely delicious. I made the bechamel in the vitamix instead of on the stove and it turned out well. Thanks for a great recipe!
Eva

Andrea Hareid said...

I just got an eggplant in my farm share (CSA). I almost told them to keep it because I've had such limited success with it in the past. So of course, a few quick searches (really, what did we do prior to the 'net), and I came across this recipe. It sounds SO GOOD! I can't wait to make it. I have to go weigh my eggplant to make sure its big enough - to me its probably more "medium"!

Erica said...

Andrea, hope you like the recipe! If the eggplant is small just space out the slices instead of overlapping them :)

Kevin said...

I made this tonight....it was sooo good :)

Wally Gowdy said...

I made this for dinner and it was unbelievably delicious. I used tomato sauce in a smaller quantity and it was not watery. Two of my guys are on a low carb, no dairy, gluten free diet (quite a challenge), and they had to control themselves not to devour the entire serving dish. I am sure this will make great leftovers, too. Who would have believed that cauliflower could be used to make bechamel sauce! Thank you for this wonderful recipe. I am always in awe of people who can think up these great recipes.

Sophie Clarke said...

I am absolutely going to try this one. Thanks

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