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March 16, 2012

Moussaka - Greek Eggplant Casserole

One thing I love about eggplant is that you can turn this humble fruit into something delicious. When I was little my mom had a menu she would follow for the week. A lot of dishes she would cook had eggplant in it. They may not be gourmet dishes but how she managed to give them a new twist to taste just as good, it still amazes me up til now. (Mommy is one of the best cooks I know. Believe me. I'm not the only one who said it) Now that my sister and I are grown the legacy of our mom continues.

Last night my sister brought home 2 large eggplants. When she showed me the purple fruit, the first thing that came to mind was to make moussaka. I had been craving for this Greek dish for so long. The last time I had it was February and I already missed the flavor.

Moussaka is  a Greek dish of layered eggplants, meat and bechamel sauce. The first time I learned about this casserole was in 2002 when I saw the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding. When I heard the lead actor say her lunch was moussaka, I got intrigued. I checked the web and learned  that it's an eggplant casserole. Boy was I  glad.

Typically meat sauce in moussaka is made from either ground beef or lamb. Some people use ground pork. I used tuna in place of meat. My sister doesn't eat meat at all but she still includes fish, dairy and egg products as part of her diet. I cut down on my meat consumption. I eat chicken or beef once or twice a month. Like I said before we're going vegetarian.

Eggplant slices can be broiled or fried. I broiled mine. I made the tuna sauce from what I had in stock.

2  eggplant, edges trimmed and sliced lengthwise

For the tuna sauce :
1 TBSP butter
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 medium size onion, chopped
1  tomato, diced
1 can tuna
2 TBSP tomato paste
3  TBSP pasta sauce ( I didn't have tomato puree)
a cup of  water
a dash of Italian mixed herbs

For the white sauce:
100 g cream cheese
1/4 cup milk
quickmelt cheese

Preheat oven to 204 deg C.

Brush both sides of eggplant slices with oil.  Season with salt and pepper. Broil  for 5-6 minutes until browned.Turn and broil the other side for another 5 minutes.

While the eggplants are in the oven. Cook the sauce.

Melt butter. Saute garlic and onion. Add diced tomato.Cook until softened about 2 minutes.  Add tuna.Stir in tomato paste, pasta sauce, water, mixed herbs, salt and pepper. Cover. Let boil for 5 minutes.

In a small saucepan, stir together  cream cheese, milk, salt and pepper. Warm over low heat until  just melted.

How to assemble moussaka:

Lightly grease a 7 1/2 x 4 1/2 pie dish.

Layer the eggplant, then the tuna sauce. 

I got quickmelt cheese from a friend. I wanted to know how it would taste so I used it in place of parmesan. And yeah,it did make a difference.

Grate the cheese over the tuna sauce.
Repeat the layering process a second time.

Spoon the white sauce on top.Bake  at 175 deg C for 2-3 minutes or just until the white sauce starts to brown.

I found the white sauce to be too rich. I will add half a cup of milk to cream cheese next time I do this.

Thank you Sis for taking pictures :)

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