Moussaka

You know what you want to eat when your teef hurt? Nothing crunchy, that’s for damn sure.

And when you’ve got one wisdom tooth that’s decided to resurface that you’ve dismissed previously as ‘not that big a deal’, but has decided that this time, oh no, it is going to be a ‘big deal’; you really don’t want anything remotely crunchy, because it will end up over by that painful toof-nub area.

Aside from doing shots of Anbesol, there’s not a whole lot to eat that won’t cause me excessive pain. And that Anbesol causes a whole other set of problems. Yesterday when I broke down and finally bought some (cause lordy, that pain ain’t goin nowhere any time soon) I was happily swabbing myself with the stuff. And realized after the 3rd or so application that since I was also numbing my lips a little in the process, I may or may not have been drooling from the left side of my mouth since noon. I know, I know. I am effortlessly chic.

Albany John brought me some really good Caribbean food from that new place in Crossgates mall. You know – those oxtails I was supposed to safeguard. Well, they were plenty good and mushy. Thank god peas and rice and oxtails are easy on the toof.

When I got home, I realized that some foods needed to be cooked soon, and by golly, I was going to try moussaka, that tasty Greek eggplant casserole.

After perusing some recipes online and getting thoroughly confused, I figured I’d just whip something up. And Albany John wasn’t home to watch my awful knife skills, so I was free to mess up the kitchen as much as I wanted to.

I settled on French lentils / green lentils because they were the only lentils we had in the house. They normally have a tougher chew to them, kind of a pop, if you will, which meant they would need a longer cooking time to get them anywhere near “soft”. I also didn’t want to use meat, since I wanted to keep this kind of healthy. So the lentils are in place of lamb/beef/meat in moussaka.

I used red skinned potatoes. They were so creamy in the end – I was a bit worried they wouldn’t work, but as long as they are par cooked, it will be fabulous.

I’ve been having some great luck with white/cream sauces lately. I was originally going to omit the béchamel, to keep it diary free, gluten free, and vegan, but no. No no no. The béchamel is necessary. It adds just the right amount of cheesiness and the flavor really ties the dish together. I’ve heard some vegans just place vegan ‘cheese’ over it. If it works, call me, let’s talk.
But oh. Oh oh oh. The unctuousness added by this béchamel. Yum. And I used 1% milk, so really, it’s not all that ‘bad’ for you. I’m not sure how much the egg added, so feel free to omit it.

Holy crap.

I made a ‘healthy’ version of a dish.

Dude. Weird.
Albany Jane’s Moussaka

3-4 small aubergines (eggplants)
4-5 potatoes
28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
28 oz can of diced tomatoes
.75 C dry, uncooked green lentils (French lentils)
1 onion
4 cloves garlic
2T Olive Oil
4-5 button mushrooms
.5 t cumin
1 t cinnamon
Parmesan Cheese

Bechamel cream sauce
3 T butter
½ C flour
3.5 C milk
Salt
Pepper
Mustard
1 egg

Slice aubergines into rounds. Salt them and let them sit about 30-50 minutes, pat dry, and roast in oven at 350 degrees until they become soft and mushy. Around 20 minutes.

Cover green lentils with water, bring to a simmer and cook 45-60 minutes, until soft.

Slice potatoes into ¼” slices. Par cook in water about 10-15 minutes

Dice onions and mushrooms, mince garlic.

Put olive oil in pan. Toss in garlic, mushrooms and onions, cook until tender and fragrant.

Add cans of tomatoes, green lentils, cumin and cinnamon.

Cook over medium heat 10-15 minutes. Stir it every so often.

Layer eggplant on a buttered 9×13 dish.

Put down a layer of sauce

Cover with a layer of potatoes

Cover with remaining sauce

Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the dish.

Set dish aside, heat oven to 375 degrees.

Melt butter in a pan, pour in flour. This is your roux. Cook it a little over medium heat for a few minutes until it just changes color. Turn off heat.

Heat up 1 c of milk to temper your roux.

Pour in milk, whisk milk and roux vigorously until combined.

Turn heat back on to medium/medium-low.

Add remaining milk, and whisk like the dickens for several minutes.

Add salt, pepper, and mustard. Let cool off for a few minutes, then vigorously whisk in egg (careful not to cook it!).

Pour béchamel over the dish.

Put in oven to cook for… a while. We’re talking at least 80 minutes to 2 hours. Once your top has become browned and skin-like, you’re all done.

I recommend a cookie sheet under the baking pan – this will be full to the brim and apt to bubble over during the cooking process.

6 comments
  1. Grace said:

    not only do i like to say <>moussaka<>, but i also like to eat it. a lot.sorry about your teefies–mouth pain is the worst since it interferes with eating. hang in there!

  2. You’re right, grace. It is an awfully fun word to say!

  3. Moussaka moussaka moussaka! Sorry about the tooth – how not fun. Sounds like you’ve found a much better solution than those individual Campbell’s soup servings, though!

  4. Chrystal said:

    What is the name of the Caribbean place in Crossgates?

  5. Hi Chrystal – I think it’s Full Mi Belly, but only because it’s one of the newer eateries listed on crossgates. I can’t really remember the name for sure, but it’s in the food court and pretty easy to spot.

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