Try this simplified version of Moussaka, the Greek lasagna. An aromatic casserole made with lamb, eggplant, tomatoes and potatoes. Just a hint of cinnamon, allspice and cloves makes this dish deliciously exotic. It is topped with a creamy cheese sauce and baked until golden brown.
- 1 large eggplant
- 2 medium redskin or other waxy potatoes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 1/2 pounds ground lamb, coarse ground if possible
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 2 pinches cinnamon (about 1/4 teaspoon)
- 2 pinches ground allspice
- 1 pinch ground clove (about 1/8 teaspoon)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 14 ounce can diced tomatoes and juices
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 bay leaf
For the meat sauce:
In a large skillet, saute the onions until soft. Add the lamb and cook until not raw. Don’t over brown the lamb or it will be dry. Add the garlic and spices and cook over medium-high heat for 2 or 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, wine, stock and tomato paste. Stir until incorporated. Continue cooking over medium heat until sauce is thick and glossy, about 10 or 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. While the sauce is cooking, peel and dice the eggplant and potato. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray or cover with parchment paper. Toss the eggplant dice with a tablespoon of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Spread on prepared cookie sheet and roast in the oven for 10 minutes. Toss eggplant and continue to cook for another 10 minutes or until browned on edges. Remove from oven and set aside.
Reduce oven temp to 350 degrees F.
While eggplant is roasting, par boil the diced potatoes in a pot of water for 10 minutes. The potatoes should not be cooked completely. They will continue to cook while baking in the casserole. So, you want them to be slightly softened but not cooked all the way or they won’t maintain their shape in the casserole.
For the Cheese Sauce:
- 1/2 cup ricotta cheese (I used low fat)
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt (I used fat free)
- 4 ounces plain goat cheese
- 1 egg
- 1 pinch fresh grated nutmeg
- salt to taste
- 1 cup pecorino romano cheese
Using a whisk, stir together everything except the pecorino romano cheese. Fold in the grated pecorino romano cheese.
In a 2 1/2 – 3 quart casserole, mix the meat sauce with the potatoes and roasted eggplant cubes. Smooth the top of the mixture flat. Dot the top of the casserole with big spoonfuls of the cheese sauce. Using a rubber spatula, carefully spread the cheese sauce, evenly over the entire casserole.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 – 60 minutes or until cheese sauce is golden brown. Remove casserole from oven and let rest for 15 minutes or more.