Mushroom Moussaka

 This should be a dish you make when you have a lot of free time, to keep in the fridge (for up to a week) when you want something soul satisfying.

Although it's time consuming, you will not regret making it.  The focus of this blog is clearly to write recipes for one person (without leftovers), but I really wanted to include this because it's so delicious and absolutely worth making; additionally, moussaka keeps very well in the fridge for up to a week, and the flavors blend actually become better as time goes on. The eggplants bake twice, which removes a lot of their moisture and leaves them soft, fluffy, and so easy to break through with a fork.

Mushroom Moussaka - makes 4 servings
2 large eggplants, washed and cut cross-wise into 1/4-inch rounds
1 lb of mushrooms
3 onions, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
7 oz. tomato sauce
3 oz. tomato paste
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
black pepper
1/2 tsp. thyme, chopped
1/2 tsp. basil, chopped
1/2 cup fresh minced parsley
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided in two equal portions
1/4 cup bread crumbs
2 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. flour
1 1/4 cup hot milk
nutmeg for grating on top

1. To get started with, sprinkle the eggplants with salt, and layer them gently on a colander over a sink. Let stand for 20 to 30 minutes (this will allow the eggplant to release a lot of its liquid, so that it doesn't become soggy and heavy when baked).

2. In the meantime, you can work on the mushroom sauce/filling.  Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and add the onions and 1 teaspoon salt, stirring until onions become clear, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms and garlic, stir to combine, and cover, cooking for another 8 to 10 minutes.

3. Next add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, cinnamon (you can add more than 1/2 tsp. if you're a big fan), a couple sprinkles of pepper, and your chopped thyme and basil. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for another 12 to 15 minutes. This is my favorite part of the recipe, because you get to taste it a bunch and tweak the seasoning!

4. Remove from the heat, and stir in the parsley, the bread crumbs, and 1/4-cup of grated parmesan cheese.

5. At this point, you'll want to work on your eggplants. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, and line a 9 x9 -inch pan with a baking sheet or tin foil. Lightly oil the sheet, and then place your eggplants on it (they will overlap, which is fine). Bake the eggplants until tender, about 20-25 minutes.

6. To make the bechamel sauce, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in 2 tablespoons of the flour. Cook for several minutes, whisking the whole time.

7. Slowly pour in the hot milk, whisking constantly. Your arm might get tired, but you're almost done! Turn the heat down to low and stir for another 5 to 8 minutes, until the sauce is smooth and thick. Whisk in 1 more tablespoon of flour, and cook for another 5 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Next whisk in the remaining grated parmesan and the ground cloves, and stir until just combined. Remove from heat.

8. If your oven is still on, great; if not, preheat it to 375 degrees fahrenheit. Using a 9 x 9-inch baking pan, oil a baking sheet and place it in the pan. Place a double layer of eggplant slices on the bottom, and spread all the mushroom sauce over it. Lay 1 more layer of eggplant over the sauce, then spread the bechamel on top. Sprinkle some more bread crumbs and parmesan to cover most of the bechamel, and bake uncovered for 25- 30 minutes, or until golden on the top.

Merci beaucoup, a demain mes puces!


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