Moussaka

This recipe is a long one, so let’s get straight to the point. Moussaka is delicious. My hometown of Pittsburgh is packed with Greek food festivals every summer, and this is a dish I have to order at Every. Single. One. I decided to adapt a moussaka recipe to meet my dairy-free and grain-free needs. Something you may notice in my pictures - it is not a PERFECT bechamel. I admit this. While all of the flavors of this dish are on POINT, the bechamel does not remain intact while hot. It had to cool significantly before it would hold it’s shape, and you’ll see in my photography a slightly loose top layer. If anyone has any suggestions on how to make a thick bechamel without the use of flour for a roux or cheese to help it maintain stickiness, please let me know in the comments!

Final note: while the recipe is a little bit longer, the 3 main components (eggplant, filling, bechamel) are not extremely complicated on their own. I recommend reading the recipe front to back before beginning. Once you are cooking, first get the eggplant in the oven, then work on the filling. While the eggplant finishes roasting and the filling is simmering, you can quickly throw together the bechamel. I had my components finished and ready for assembly in about 30 minutes!

Moussaka

The classic Greek dish has undergone a small facelift to be dairy-free and grain-free while retaining complexity of flavor and utter deliciousness. Serve with a side of Roasted Cauliflower Rice and a Greek salad!

Ingredients

Eggplant:

3 medium eggplants

Coconut oil cooking spray

Filling:

1 tablespoon butter (grass-fed if you can)

1 pound ground beef (grass-fed if you can)

1 large white onion, diced

1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced

1 poblano pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced

5 cloves garlic, minced

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon ginger

¼ teaspoon allspice

⅛ teaspoon cayenne

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons tomato paste (I like the kind that comes in a tube!)

1 cup red wine

28 oz can crushed tomatoes

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano

Bechamel:

4 tablespoons grass-fed butter

2 tablespoons arrowroot starch

2 cans coconut cream

½ cup nutritional yeast flakes

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

Pinch of nutmeg

2 eggs

Directions

Eggplant:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice the round ends off of each eggplant, and then cut into long, thin slices about ¼ inch thick. Sprinkle the slices with salt and let sit for about 15 minutes while the salt draws excess moisture and bitterness out of the eggplant. Pat slices dry with paper towels and transfer to a few baking sheets. Spray on each side with coconut oil cooking spray. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, flipping once, until eggplant is very soft and starting to turn transparent. Turn oven up to 400 degrees, and set aside until moussaka is ready to assemble

Filling:

In a skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add ground beef and break up into small pieces with a wooden spoon. When mostly browned (about 5 minutes), add chopped onion. Cook until onion is fragrant and mostly translucent, about 3 minutes. Add chopped peppers and garlic and stir. Cook until garlic is fragrant and peppers begin to soften, about 2-3 minutes. Add cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cayenne, salt and pepper. Stir to coat meat and vegetables in the spices. Add tomato paste and stir to combine. Cook for about 2 minutes until paste is slightly thicker, nuttier, and browned. Add red wine and stir, stir, stir! Focus especially on scraping the browned bits of the bottom of the pan (there is SO much flavor there!). Add can of tomatoes and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer for 20-30 minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Stir in fresh parsley and oregano.

Bechamel:

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Sprinkle arrowroot starch overtop and whisk rapidly until a thick paste forms. Add coconut cream and whisk rapidly until thoroughly incorporated. Increase heat to medium and cook for about 5 minute, until sauce thickens (this will happen quickly due to arrowroot starch). It will a slightly thinner texture than pudding. Remove from heat and add nutritional yeast, salt., pepper, and nutmeg, whisking to combine. Crack eggs into a separate bowl. Pour ¼ cup sauce into bowl with eggs and stir to combine. Add back into saucepan and fully incorporate, stirring quickly and off the heat to ensure that the eggs don’t scramble.

To assemble:

Grease a 13x9 metal baking pan. Pour filling down in one layer and spread evenly with the back of a wooden spoon. Lay eggplant slices over top in a single thin layer. Pour bechamel evenly on top. Bake in 400 degree oven for 45 minutes, or until top is browned and bubbly. Serve in shallow bowls.