Recipe: Vegetable Moussaka

Moussaka is traditionally an extremely rich, hearty dish full of lamb or beef that will leave you in a food coma for several hours.

This version, while replacing the meat with beans and vegetables, is no less hearty. No worries about food coma, however.

Pair it with crusty whole-grain bread and a mixed-greens salad for a hearty meal that won’t put you out of commission for the foreseeable future.

Vegetable Moussaka fresh out of the oven

1 lb. eggplant
½ cup whole green lentils
2½ cups vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, sliced thin lengthwise
1 garlic clove, mashed
8 oz. crimini mushrooms, sliced thin (4-6 slices per mushroom)
1 15 oz. can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons dried Herbes de Provence blend
1¼ cups plain yogurt (not Greek style, it needs to be softer)
3 large eggs
½ cup shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
Salt and cracked black pepper
Shredded Italian parsley for garnish

Bring the lentils, vegetable broth and bay leaf in a large saucepan or a stockpot to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until the lentils have just softened. Drain thoroughly in a mesh strainer and keep them warm.

Rinse and wipe out the saucepan or stockpot and place over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and heat until hot. Test with a drop of water; if it sizzles it is ready. Add the sliced onion and mashed garlic and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the lentils, crimini mushrooms, garbanzo beans, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, Herbes de Provence, and 3 tablespoons of water. Stir to combine and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 3-quart casserole dish with cooking spray and set aside. While the moussaka filling is simmering, wash the eggplant and remove the stem end. Using a very sharp knife, slice into ¼-inch thick rounds.

In a large skillet, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat until hot. Test with a drop of water once again. Lightly fry the eggplant slices in small batches until they are golden in color. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels.

Remove the moussaka filling from the heat. Adjust seasonings with salt and cracked black pepper if needed. In the prepared baking dish, layer the eggplant slices and moussaka filling, starting on the bottom and ending on the top with the eggplant slices.

In a small mixing bowl, beat together the yogurt and eggs and season lightly with salt and more liberally with the cracked black pepper. Pour the yogurt mixture over the top layer of eggplant slices, making sure to coat them all evenly. Spread the grated white cheddar cheese over the top of the yogurt sauce.

Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes, or until the cheese topping is a rich, golden color and bubbling throughout. Remove from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Yield: 6 servings

For fresh, quality, naturally-grown Herbes de Provence and black pepper in this recipe, visit MySpiceSage by clicking on the banner below:

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