Asiago Mushroom Moussaka
with gluten free options.
For those of you who have never had Moussaka, it’s sort of like a Greek version of lasagna, except it uses thin slices of eggplant in place of the noodles and it’s spiced in a lovely Greek sort of manner … and there’s no ricotta, but there’s a wonderful cheesy bechamel sauce on top. If you are not partial to eggplant, feel free to use zucchini slices instead. That’s what we used to ask my dad to do when we were kids, and he did happily oblige us on most occasions. I have since grown to LOVE eggplant and so Moussaka now, in its entirety, is always a pure pleasure to eat and to make. To go through all those steps my dad always used to do for us when we were children, somehow that makes it even more special.
I did my best to reduce the amount of effort involved (especially with the bechamel sauce–I use a yogurt/egg mixture that simulates bechamel in an easier, healthier fashion), but any layered dish like this does take a little work. I have to say, though, when it’s done and you sink your teeth into the first bite of Moussaka, you will know every bit of effort was well worth it. And even moreso if you can get your kids to give it a try. I have finally gotten my daughter to give Moussaka a try and sometimes she will even gobble up a whole serving of it … when that happens, I feel a little leap of joy in my heart, like I’m passing on the tradition of this wonderful dish my dad used to make for us when we were kids (and with a secret little hope that this dish might be passed on to still more of those yet to come).
The addition of mushrooms fits right in so well with the whole theme of Moussaka, especially if you have wild mushrooms available. I didn’t this time, though, so I used store-bought button mushrooms, sliced thin. Yes, wild mushrooms would have been sooo much more tasty (especially morels), but you sometimes have to make do with what you have.
- 1 large eggplant (about 1.5 lb.), peeled and sliced thin
- 8 oz. fresh mushrooms sliced thin (or try turning them into Chardonnay Mushrooms - recipe here)
- 1 large fresh garden tomato, sliced thin
- 1 medium potato, VERY thinly sliced
- 3/4 cup breadcrumbs (whole wheat is good ... or use gluten free breadcrumbs)
- 1 lb. ground beef, lamb or venison
- 1 teaspoon butter
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
- 5 - 7 cloves of garlic, peeled & chopped
- 1 bell pepper, chopped
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 1 15-oz. can of tomato sauce or 1 pint homemade tomato sauce
- About 2 - 3 Tablespoons total fresh chopped basil. oregano and rosemary
- Salt & fresh ground pepper, to taste
- 1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
- 1/2 cup low fat milk
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 - 2 cups freshly shredded Asiago cheese
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Peel and slice the eggplant into very thin (1/8 - 1/4 inch) slices. Spray 2 baking sheets with cooking spray. Set the eggplant slices on the sheet in a single layer and sprinkle with Red Robin Seasoning (or salt) and fresh ground pepper. Spray the top of the eggplant, then bake for 5 minutes. Flip the slices, and bake for another 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside. Slice the mushrooms, tomato and potato. Set the oven temperature to 400 F. Set aside 1/4 cup of the breadcrumbs for the top.
- In a saucepan over medium heat, brown the ground beef, then put the meat in a bowl and set aside. Add the butter and olive oil to the pan, then the onion and garlic. Saute until the onion is very soft and translucent, sprinkling on the cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice sometime in there to let the spices "toast" along with the veggies. Add the wine and saute several more minutes until the most of the liquid from the wine is gone. Add the meat, tomato sauce, and fresh herbs. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer for about 15 minutes to let the flavors meld. Add salt & pepper to taste.
- Spray a 13 x 9 x 2 inch pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle most of the breadcrumbs on the bottom (reserving about 1/4 of them for the top). Add a layer of eggplant, then a layer of meat sauce, then a layer of mushrooms and the sliced tomato. Add another layer of eggplant.
- Now smooth another layer of meat sauce over the dish, then another layer of mushrooms, and the sliced potato. One more layer of eggplant and if you have any meat sauce left, smooth it over the top as best you can.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, then gently whisk in the yogurt, milk, nutmeg and salt. Stir about 1/3 - 1/2 of the cheese into the yogurt mixture. Pour this mixture over the top of the moussaka, making sure to cover every bit. Top with the rest of the shredded cheese and the reserved breadcrumbs.
- Bake for 45 - 50 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the middle is set. Let rest about 15 - 20 minutes before serving.
I used 1 cup asiago cheese, but I noticed when reheating leftover that adding extra asiago on top made it even tastier, so adjust the amount to your preference.
If your potato slices are not super-thin, you may want to pre-cook them so they are tender in the Moussaka.
RECIPE SOURCE: http://www.sumptuousspoonfuls.com/
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