Moussaka – my kids just love saying it – “MOO saka”
Cookbook Challenge #2
A couple of weeks ago I decided to challenge myself by trying at least one new recipe from a different cookbook every two weeks. My goal is to experience some of the great recipes contained in my underused collection and break out of my typical cooking routine. I encouraged you to take up the same challenge and let me know what recipes you are trying at home. See The Reluctant Gourmet’s Cookbook Challenge.
For my next recipe, I decided to pick a classic from one of my favorite cookbooks, New Recipes From Moosewood Restaurant, published back in 1987 and given to me for Christmas in 1990 by my good friend Rania B. On the inside cover page I noticed she wrote, “to the best darn soup-maker this side of the Mississippi!” Now that’s nice to read again. I haven’t picked up this book in awhile but I will definitely revisit it to work on some of the great soup recipes featured in this cookbook.
Many of you might remember the original Moosewood Cookbook written by Mollie Katzen back in 1978 and published by the Ten Speed Press, now publishers of many great cookbooks. My wife brought a copy of it into our marriage, and it is a great source for vegetarian recipes. The Moosewood Cookbook was named to the Cookbook Hall of Fame by the James Beard Foundation back in 2007, and the New York Times listed it as one of the top ten selling cookbooks of all time.
What is Moussaka?
Moussaka is a Middle Eastern dish that is basically an eggplant casserole. Although there are many versions from different countries, the basic dish is comprised of eggplant, tomato and some minced meat. The more popular and widely known Greek version includes layers of eggplant and meat topped with a white sauce. The entire dish is then baked. It’s kind of like a Greek lasagna, with the part of the lasagna noodles being played by eggplant.
As with many dishes, I’ve found many variations on moussaka. Some versions use pork, some lamb. Cream sauce is popular, but so is a layer of yogurt mixed with eggs and flour. Some versions even substitute potatoes for the eggplant. This vegetarian version uses eggplant and zucchini, tomato sauce and a custard-like Bechamel sauce.
The recipe shows you how to make a simple tomato sauce that takes about 30 minutes to prepare, but you can easily substitute your own favorite or family tomato sauce recipe. And for those of you who like shortcuts, you may want to try your favorite commercial brand. I do recommend that you make an attempt at your own sauce, though, because you will know exactly what is in it.
We served this version of Moussaka with a roasted leg of lamb, and roasted potatoes, but as good as the Moussaka was the night we prepared it, it was even better the next day with leftover lamb, potato gnocchi and fresh steamed Brussels sprouts. It was ridiculously good!
My second cookbook recipe challenge was a success, and I’m looking forward to the next one. I’m interested in hearing how the rest of you are doing. Please let me know by posting here or on the original post or on my Facebook.