Moussaka – a healthier, lighter and easier version of this Greek Classic!
Moussaka is one of those recipes that you either love or hate. Sad thing is, I hated it as a child. The “slimey stuff ” ( my childhood name for eggplant) and the texture of the mince just never gelled for me.
Moussaka did not appeal to me, because although I believe that bechamel sauce can cover a multitude of kitchen sins, with moussaka it did not work for me at all. My memories of moussaka include too-oily moussaka, egg-plant-not-cooked-moussaka and white-sauce-too-stodgy-moussaka.
Most versions of moussaka are based on sautéed eggplant (aubergine), tomato and minced lamb or beef. The Greek version includes layers of meat and aubergine topped with a Béchamel sauce, and baked. On the other hand, Turkish mousakka, is not layered. It is prepared with sautéed aubergines, green peppers, tomatoes, onions, and minced meat.
The debate whether to use lamb or beef in your moussaka is not something that I am going to choose sides on. If there is a debate, why don’t I throw a spanner in the works and say: “In South Africa we can even use ostrich for a an even healthier option. I used lamb, simply for the flavor and I reckon if it is authentically Greek, lamb would be the meat of choice.”
If you are a regular reader of My Easy Cooking, you will have read some time ago about my connection with Shirley Valentine and Greek food! Well, it is almost impossible to “like” Greek food and “dislike” moussaka, so I had to come up with a plan to make it more likeable to me! So whether the Greeks will approve or even old Shirley, this is my version of moussaka, less oily, roasted eggplant, delicious lamb mince and Greek yogurt. Try it, you’ll love it!
Moussaka – lighter, healthier and easier
6 medium egg plants
15 ml dry oreganum
45 ml olive oil
For the filling
30 ml olive oil
500 g lamb mince
2 cloves garlic – finely chopped
1 large onion – finely chopped
2.5 ml dry fine coriander
5 – 10 ml salt
5 ml black pepper
30 ml chopped mint
30 ml chopped basil
250 – 300 ml Greek yogurt
100 g feta cheese – crumbled
fresh mint for serving.
Preheat oven to 180C. Halve the eggplants lengthwise and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle the dry oregano, salt and pepper over the top and roast eggplant in oven until the flesh is soft. Carefully scoop the flesh out, so that the shells remain intact. Heat the olive oil in a pot and saute the onion and garlic until soft and caramelized. Add the mince and with a fork, break down and brown the meat until there are no more big chunks. Add the flesh from the eggplant and mix well. Add the spices and keep stirring until the meat is cooked and is slightly browned. Add the fresh herbs and stir through. Add a bit of lemon juice.
Spoon the meat into 6 of the eggplant shells and top with a spoonful of Greek yogurt. Top with crumbed feta and chopped mint. Place the other 6 egg shells on top of the 6 filled halves and serve immediately with a simple green salad.