Moussaka for the succa
Whether you like your moussaka meaty or meatless, this popular Mediterranean specialty is eminently suitable for serving in the succa.
Moussaka Photo: Courtesy
Whether you like your moussaka meaty or meatless, this popular Mediterranean
specialty is eminently suitable for serving in the succa.
perfect for the harvest holiday, as it is rich in vegetables and is portable. In
Greece, this celebrated casserole is usually made of layers of fried eggplant, a
ground meat filling and a topping of béchamel sauce, but in much of the Mideast,
including Israel, moussaka often has no dairy products; it is topped with sliced
tomatoes or with a thick tomato sauce before being baked.
add a layer of cooked macaroni to our moussaka because the pasta tastes good
with the eggplant and the filling. The macaroni also helps the casserole hold
together better when it’s cut into portions.
Adding potato slices is
another way to make the casserole firmer and easier to serve. Benny Saida,
author of Food from the Balkans (in Hebrew), uses this technique, adding a layer
of fried potato slices to his casserole. For the meat filling, he prefers ground
Saida tops his moussaka with a kosher velouté-type sauce instead of
the milk-based béchamel. To make the sauce, he uses chicken broth as the liquid,
thickens it with a roux of flour and melted margarine and flavors it with
crushed tomatoes. He enriches the sauce with beaten eggs, which help the topping
turn golden during baking.
Moussaka is also delicious when made without
meat. Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero, authors of Veganomicon, make
eggplant- potato moussaka from vegetables roasted with olive oil. They layer the
vegetables with a wine-flavored tomato sauce enriched with garlic and shallots
sautéed in olive oil, and serve the casserole with pine nut “cream” thickened
The moussaka principle also works well with flavors from other
regions of the world. To vary the recipe, we sometimes use the seasonings of
East Asia. Instead of tomato sauce, we make mandarin moussaka with Chinese
hoisin sauce as well as soy sauce and fresh ginger.
This moussaka is
faster and easier to prepare than classic versions of the dish, and is
convenient on busy days when you need to prepare a holiday dinner quickly. While
the moussaka is baking, we steam rice and prepare a fresh vegetable salad to
complete the easy-to-make Succot meal.
Faye Levy is the author of Faye
Levy’s International Vegetable Cookbook.
MIDDLE EASTERN MOUSSAKA
This recipe is from Cooking from the Nile’s Land (in
Hebrew). Author Levana Zamir writes that moussaka is also made with zucchini,
cauliflower or potatoes. She considers it a simplified version of stuffed
vegetables because cooks layer the components in a casserole instead of
hollowing and filling each vegetable.
For a richer dish, some add roasted
pine nuts or roasted blanched almonds to the meat filling.
1 large onion,
1 Tbsp. oil, plus more oil for frying
500 gr. (about 18 ounces)
coarsely ground beef
200 gr. (about 7 ounces) tomato paste pinch of salt pinch
of ground allspice
1 1⁄2 kg. (31⁄4 pounds) eggplant, peeled or unpeeled, sliced 1
cm (scant 1⁄2 inch) thick
1 cup broth or water
freshly ground black pepper
the onion in 1 tablespoon hot oil until it begins to turn golden. Add the meat
and continue to fry, stirring and mashing the meat with a fork, until the color
of the meat changes.
Add half the tomato paste, 1⁄2 cup water, salt and
allspice and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, until
the meat is tender and has absorbed the liquid. Let cool before
Sprinkle salt on the eggplant slices, put them in a strainer
and let stand for 1⁄2 hour. Squeeze out the juices. Rinse the
slices and pat dry.
Fry the eggplant slices in oil on both sides. Remove
from the oil and pat dry on paper towels.
Heat oven to 180ºC (about
350ºF). Put a layer of fried eggplant slices in a square baking dish. Cover with
a layer of meat filling. Continue layering, alternating slices of eggplant and
filling and ending with a layer of eggplant.
To make the sauce, mix
remaining tomato paste with 1 cup broth and salt and pepper to taste. Pour it
over the casserole. Cover and bake for 45 minutes, or until the eggplant is very
tender and has absorbed the juices. Serve hot in square pieces.
MOUSSAKA WITH PINE NUT CREAM
This recipe is from Veganomicon. Authors Isa
Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero write: “Just imagine delicate layers of
roasted eggplant, potatoes and zucchini topped with a sublime cinnamon-spiked
tomato sauce and a creamy pine nut custard...This reheats nicely and tastes even
better the next day. Serve with slices of crusty peasant bread, and a simple
tomato and cucumber salad with olive oil and lemon.”
To make the sauce,
use the softest tofu you can find; the best is silken tofu. Large, long baking
potatoes are perfect for this recipe.
Makes 6 to 8 servings
450 gr. (1 pound) eggplant
450 gr. (1 pound) zucchini
700 gr. (11⁄2
pounds) baking potatoes, scrubbed and peeled
1⁄4 cup olive oil
olive oil 3 garlic cloves, minced
4 large shallots, sliced thin
1⁄3 cup red wine
or vegetable broth
two 400-gr. (15-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes, with juice
tsp. dried oregano
1⁄4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 bay leaf
Salt Pine Nut Cream:
cup pine nuts, plus additional pine nuts for garnish if desired
3 Tbsp. lemon
450 gr. (1 pound) soft silken tofu
1 garlic clove
1 tsp. arrowroot powder
or potato starch
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 1⁄4 tsp. salt, or to taste
1⁄2 cup dry, fine white bread crumbs (for sprinkling)
to 200ºC (400ºF). Lightly oil three baking sheets or shallow pans.
eggplant and zucchini and trim stems. Slice eggplant, zucchini and
potatoes lengthwise into approximately 6-mm. (1⁄4-inch)-thick slices. Rub
eggplant slices with a little salt and set aside in a colander in the sink or in
a big bowl for about 15 minutes to drain. Briefly rinse with cold water and pat
dry with a paper towel.
Place each vegetable on a separate baking sheet.
Distribute 1⁄4 cup oil among the three sheets and sprinkle zucchini and potatoes
with salt. Toss to coat the vegetables on each sheet, making sure each piece is
completely coated with oil. Drizzle a little extra oil on the
eggplant. Spread out the vegetables on each sheet; some overlapping is
okay. Roast the pans of zucchini and eggplant for 15 minutes, or until tender.
Roast potatoes for about 20 to 22 minutes, until edges are lightly
browned. Allow vegetables to cool.
Note: The zucchini will likely
be very watery after roasting, so when it’s cool enough to touch, gently but firmly squeeze the slices, by the handful to remove any excess
water. This will prevent an overly wet casserole and will help concentrate the
While the vegetables are cooking, prepare the sauce: Combine 1⁄4
cup oil and minced garlic in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Heat over medium
heat and let garlic sizzle for about 30 seconds, then add shallots and cook
until soft and translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add wine and simmer until slightly
reduced, another 3 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, oregano, cinnamon and bay
leaf. Partially cover and simmer over medium- low heat for 12 to 14 minutes,
stirring occasionally. Sauce should reduce slightly. Turn off the heat, remove
bay leaf, and adjust the salt.
Make the pine nut cream: In a food
processor, blend pine nuts and lemon juice, scraping sides of bowl with a rubber
spatula, until a creamy paste forms. Add tofu, garlic, arrowroot, nutmeg, salt
and white pepper. Blend until creamy and smooth.
Lightly oil a 23- x
33-cm. (9 x 13-inch) pan and preheat oven again to 200ºC (400ºF), if necessary.
Spread 1⁄4 cup of sauce on pan, then add successive layers, in order, of
eggplant, potatoes, sauce and half the bread crumbs. Spread all the zucchini on
top of this. Top with a final layer each of eggplant, potatoes, sauce and bread
crumbs. Use a rubber spatula to evenly spread the pine nut cream over the entire
top layer. Scatter a few pine nuts on top, if desired.
Bake for 35 to 40
minutes, until top is lightly browned and a few cracks have formed in the
topping. Allow to cool 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
This recipe is from The New Casserole by Faye Levy. Like classic
moussaka, this casserole is composed of layers of sautéed eggplant alternating
with a ground meat filling. But this version of the dish is much lighter, as it
does not require deep frying.
Instead of a cheesy topping and a tomato
sauce, this casserole boasts the pungent flavors of East Asia – fresh ginger,
soy sauce, hoisin sauce and chili oil. If you don't have hoisin sauce, you can
substitute sweet and sour sauce. Serve the moussaka with steamed white or brown
Makes 3 or 4 servings
450 gr. (1 pound) slim eggplants
225 gr. (8
ounces) ground beef
About 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 1⁄2 cups
1 red bell pepper, cut in strips
3 Tbsp. minced peeled gingerroot
1⁄2 cup beef or chicken broth
3 Tbsp. hoisin sauce
2 green onions, cut in 5-cm.
(2-inch) strips, thick pieces halved lengthwise
1⁄4 teaspoon hot pepper oil
Preheat oven to 200ºC (400ºF). Cut eggplants in diagonal slices about 1 cm. (3⁄8
inch) thick. Put on a lightly oiled baking sheet and brush lightly with oil; use
a total of about 1 tablespoon. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake about
10 minutes or until just tender. Reduce oven temperature to 180ºC
Combine meat and 1 tablespoon soy sauce in a medium bowl and mix
well; set aside.
Heat a wok or large skillet, add 2 tablespoons oil and
heat over medium-high heat. Add celery and red pepper and sauté about 3 minutes
or until crisp-tender. Remove with a slotted spatula. Add gingerroot to skillet,
stir, then add beef mixture and sauté over medium heat, stirring to break up
meat, about 4 minutes or until beef changes color.
Add broth and
remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce and bring to a simmer. Add green onions.
Return celery and red pepper to pan. Add hoisin sauce and heat 1 to 2 minutes
over low heat. Remove from heat and add chili oil.
Lightly oil an 8-cup
casserole. Layer eggplant and meat mixture in casserole in 3 layers, beginning
with eggplant and ending with meat. Cover and bake about 30 to 40 minutes or
until eggplant is tender and casserole is hot and beginning to bubble.