Well. Yesterday was fun. A few ingredients in the blender and bzzz, done. Now I’m back to my uber-involved recipes, as well as facing my childhood nemesis: moussaka.
Today’s chakra: Ajna – Wisdom Center (Brow)
Color: Indigo: inspiration & peace of mind
Location: Three fingers behind the center of the brow
Associated body organs: Brain, eyes, pituitary gland
Controlled emotions: Perception, knowledge and understanding
[For an explanation of the chakras, see Sunday’s post.]
I think the traditional moussaka is made with ground beef, but I found a vegetarian version and decided to try it instead. To start off, slice and salt the eggplant, and let it sit for 30 minutes to release water. Rinse, then pat them dry. Slice zucchinis as well.
The original recipe called for browning the eggplant and zucchini in oil, but due to my recent learning experience of eggplant soaking up copious amounts of oil, I decided roasting the veggies would be lighter. Potatoes, on the other hand, I did brown in oil.
Next, sauté onion and garlic, then add in white vinegar, canned tomatoes, canned lentils with half their liquid, dried oregano and fresh parsley. Let it all simmer for 15 minutes.
In a 9×13 baking dish, layer the veggies, sauce and feta cheese, ending with veggies. Bake for 25 minutes at 375 degrees F.
Meanwhile, make a béchamel sauce. You might think that with a French boyfriend, I’d be a pro at béchamel. Mais non. I have never made it. I don’t have to. I’m spoiled. So I figured it was high time I learned. (BTW I feel so Southern belle saying “it’s high time I __.” Must use this expression more often.)
You will begin by melting butter in a saucepan, then whisking in flour until well blended to make a roux. In a separate saucepan or the microwave, heat milk, then incorporate gradually into the roux, whisking vigorously. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. This is a classic béchamel. In this recipe, you will let it cool for 5 minutes off the heat, then add in a beaten egg. I think Julia Child called this an “enrichment” to the sauce. If very thick, add more warm milk in increments.
When 25 minutes are up, remove moussaka from oven, top with béchamel and grated parmesan, and return to the oven to cook for another 25 to 30 minutes.
2 eggplants, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large zucchinis, thinly sliced
2 potatoes, thinly sliced
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/2 (14.5 ounce) can lentils, drained, juice reserved
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups milk
black pepper to taste
1 pinch ground nutmeg
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Sprinkle eggplant slices with salt and set aside for 30 minutes. Rinse and pat dry. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Lightly brown eggplant and zucchini slices on both sides; drain. Adding more oil if necessary, brown potato slices; drain.
Sauté onion and garlic until lightly browned. Pour in vinegar and reduce. Stir in tomatoes, lentils, 1/2 the juice from lentils, oregano and parsley. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 15 minutes.
In a 9×13 inch casserole dish, layer eggplant, zucchini, potatoes and feta. Pour tomato-onion mixture over vegetables; repeat layering, finishing with a layer of eggplant and zucchini. Cover and bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan combine butter, flour and milk. Bring to a slow boil, whisking constantly until thick and smooth. Season with pepper and add nutmeg. Remove from heat, cool for 5 minutes, and stir in beaten egg.
Pour sauce over vegetables and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake, uncovered, for another 25 to 30 minutes.
For dessert, I found a recipe for spicy oven-roasted plums on allrecipes.com. I scanned the ingredients list… plums, ok, orange juice, ok, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and… cumin?
So of course you know now why I had to try this recipe. I must try all manner of bizarro flavor combinations.
Plus, it’s easy. You just mix the juice, brown sugar and spices to make a sauce, halve and pit the plums, and pour the sauce over them in a baking dish with sides. Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly.
This would be awesome combined with vanilla ice cream, maybe with the plums cut a little smaller, but alas, we didn’t have any ice cream. The cumin aroma is strong, but I couldn’t really taste it over the other spices when combined with the plum. Even if it grosses you out though, this would still be a yummy recipe without it.
4 plums, halved and pitted
1/2 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a shallow baking dish with cooking spray.
Place the plums, cut-side up, in a single layer in the baking dish.
Whisk together the orange juice, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin, and cardamom in a bowl; drizzle over the plums.
Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until plums are hot and the sauce is bubbly.