For years our family has been enjoying the cooking of my Mom and in fact I am convinced that my Mom is the best Greek cook out there. She has taught me everything she knows about combining classic Greek ingredients to create delicious traditional dishes. This year, I have made it a personal mission to learn how to make all of the dishes I have not mastered yet from my Mom’s repertoire of Greek cooking. Back in the spring, I took on the challenge of learning how to make Tsoureki.
Last week, my mission was to recreate my Mom’s Moussaka for a couple of reasons; first it is by far one of my favourite Greek dishes and second a friend of mine asked me to show her how to make Moussaka. Aside from my Mom cooking the best Greek food on the planet what I love about my Mom’s cooking style is that sometimes my Mom ventures out from the traditional and puts a modern twist to a family favourite such as Moussaka. Traditionally Moussaka is made primarily of fried eggplant, savoury meat sauce and a creamy bechamel topping which can be very heavy and loaded with calories.
Several years ago, as we were all getting more health savvy my Mom decided to change-up her traditional recipe so that it is more calorie friendly. Aside from using some of the same ingredients her method of preparing the Moussaka makes this version delicious and better for you. By grilling the vegetables and using partly skimmed milk for the bechamel sauce she has managed to cut the fat and calorie content by at least half of the traditional recipe without compromising the taste.
I have taken my Mom’s Skinny Moussaka one step further and replaced ground beef for ground turkey. The result?! Nutritious and delicious! Here’s what you need to make my Mom’s Moussaka with a Canadian twist.
2 large eggplant, sliced into thin round, even disks
4 large zucchini, sliced into thin long, even planks
8 large potatoes, sliced into thin oval disks
2 tbsp olive oil
2 lbs of ground turkey
1 cup of tomato pulp
1 onion, diced
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp mint
1 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp butter
1/4 cup of flour
4 cups 1% milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup Romano cheese
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 eggs, beaten
1. Preheat your barbecue or oven to 450 F. Brush the eggplant, zucchini and potato slices with olive oil and sprinkle with some salt.
2. Start grilling the potatoes first because they take the longest to cook through, then the eggplant and last the zucchini. All the vegetables should be soft to the touch but not mushy.
3. To prepare the meat sauce saute the onion and garlic for a couple of minutes, add the ground turkey meat and brown for 10 minutes. Add the oregano, mint, cumin, cinnamon, salt and pepper and stir well into the meat mixture. Last pour in the tomato pulp and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside.
4. In a medium sauce pan melt the butter and then stir in the flour to create a roue. Slowly add the milk and whisk consistently until the sauce thickens. Add the salt, cheese and nutmeg to the sauce stirring all the contents well and set aside for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, beat the eggs. Once the sauce cools down pour the beaten eggs and whisk together for a creamy bechamel sauce.
5. To assemble the Moussaka you will need a deep square or rectangular casserole dish so that all the layers fit well into the dish and you don’t get any leakage of the bechamel sauce during the baking process.
6. Spray the casserole with cooking spray and add 1 layer of potato followed by the meat sauce and then a layer of eggplant. Drizzle a small amount of the bechamel sauce on top of the eggplant.
7. For the second layer add another layer of potato followed by the meat sauce and then a layer of zucchini, Drizzle a small amount of bechamel sauce on top of the zucchini.
8. For your last layer add another layer of potato followed by the meat sauce and zucchini. Top the Moussaka with another layer of eggplant and then pour all of the bechamel sauce on top of the eggplant making sure the sauce covers the eggplant well.