Eggplant and Lentil Moussaka

Ingredients

  • 5 Tablespoons  olive oil
  • medium-sized eggplant, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • medium-sized onion, chopped
  • medium-sized zucchini, trimmed and chopped
  • red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 Teaspoon  ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon  tomato paste
  •   Splash of red wine (optional)
  •   One 24- to 26-ounce jar or pack strained tomatoes with garlic and herbs
  •   One 14-ounce can green lentils, rinsed and drained
  •   1-2 pinches of white sugar
  •   Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 14 Ounces  potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 6 Tablespoons  all-purpose flour
  • 4 Tablespoons  unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 Cup  milk
  •   Good grating of nutmeg
  • 1 Cup  ricotta cheese
  • 2/3 Cups  shredded Cheddar

My stepmother, Wendy, is a fabulous cook who has a knack for producing incredible food — from wherever, using whatever, in what seems like minutes!

She made the tastiest moussaka for us on a wonderful holiday for my father’s 60th birthday in Greece a few years ago. This is a veggie version!

See all lentil recipes.

Click here to see Frozen Food Makes a Comeback.

Directions

Line a plate with paper towels. In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil and pan-fry the eggplant slices in batches, on both sides, until browned and beginning to soften. Transfer to the plate while you cook the rest. (Add a little more oil if necessary to prevent sticking, but wait until it is very hot before adding the eggplant slices or they will be soggy and oily.) Set aside.

Meanwhile, make the vegetable sauce. In a clean pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil and sauté the onion for 2 minutes. Add the chopped zucchini and bell pepper and gently sauté for about 5 minutes, then add the garlic and cook until the vegetables begin to soften, about 2 more minutes.

Stir in the cinnamon and tomato paste and cook for about 1 minute before adding the red wine, if using, and after 1 more minute the strained tomatoes. Simmer for 10 minutes, then stir in the lentils and sugar and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, bring salted water to a boil over high heat. Boil the potato slices until half cooked, about 3 minutes. Drain and let cool slightly while you make the ricotta sauce.

In a saucepan, combine the flour, butter, and milk and beat over medium heat. When thickened, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and some grated nutmeg and let cool for 5 minutes, then beat in the ricotta.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Pour half of the vegetable sauce into the bottom of a deep round casserole or baking dish with about a 3-quart capacity. Top with the potato slices in 1 layer, then spread over half the ricotta sauce. Layer on half of the eggplant, followed by the remaining vegetable sauce, the rest of the eggplant, and then the last of the ricotta sauce. Top with the shredded Cheddar. Bake until piping hot and bubbling, 45-55 minutes. 

Notes

Note: To freeze, let cool, cover with foil or a lid, label, and freeze. To defrost, let stand for at least 24 hours in the refrigerator. Remove and thaw at room temperature if necessary.

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