Moussaka and some tasty twists
This is a very special recipe of my family, a Greek one. I just improved it over the years, to get a healthier version of the original one, but still keeping the yumminess in. My mom used to cook it initially with potatoes, because she was claiming it wasn’t so… heavy as its eggplant version, but I prefer the last one, of course, with a little twist.
So, you need a big eggplant, cut it into round slices and then turn them into quarters, so it could fit better in any oven tray and also for a… good looking dish, when done. Place a nice layer of eggplants on the bottom of a deep tray sprayed with vegetable oil, I use sunflower or rapeseeds oil because they don’t come with an additional taste to the recipe as the olive oil does.
For the main layer, use beef and pork minced meat, about half a pound, mixed with two finely chopped spring onions or one small yellow onion, one yellow pepper also cut into small cubes, salt, pepper, a pinch of dry oregano, parsley and lot of dill, one big egg and two tablespoons of Greek yoghurt, to cut the… not so nice effect of the minced meat and also the possible bitterness of the eggplant. Make sure you add some water when you mix the meat, it helps the mixing process but also it gives a smoother texture. Now, add the meaty layer of the moussaka in the tray and cover it with another layer of eggplant slices. Sprinkle salt and pepper on top and put the tray in the oven for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, mix three big eggs with salt, another two tablespoons of yoghurt and also four tablespoons of chopped tomatoes or puree from a can. When time is ready, add the liquid mixture over the moussaka and put it back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes. The final touch of yumminess is a good shredded cheese thick layer on top of the moussaka, when you take it out of the oven. You can serve it also with some extra Mozzarella cheese as side dish and of course with more Greek yoghurt, but the original recipe already includes a layer of cheese to cover the eggplants.
Now, it’s twists time! You can also mix a big cup of sliced green olives with the meat. For a spicy version, I like to mix some hot chili pepper paste, but again, when kids and grandkids around, you don’t have to do this. The original recipe was with fried round potatoes slices or eggplants and grated cheese between the layers but it was too heavy and not so healthy, I mean it was once a year recipe to cook and enjoy, so my… light option is a good meal all year long, especially because it is super easy and also fast to cook and, of course, to eat.
Another twist and a healthier version of this recipe could be using turkey or chicken minced meat and it is tasty, too. You can use chopped tuna fish cans in oil olive to make a fish version with potatoes, and instead of fry them, you can boil them. There is also another version with potatoes puree, kind of the shepherd`s pie, but the tray should be well greased and covered with bread crumbs all over. As you can see, it is a very versatile recipe!
For a veggie version you can cook moussaka replacing the meat with rice, soy, or mushrooms and olives. I tried to replace the eggplants with zucchini and it worked great, too. So, enjoy any version you like and remember the veggie version could be a nice side dish for your barbecue meats, too!