tomatos and eggplant fresh vegetables
I really love the tomato season and this time of the year gives you the best produce for any dish that involves tomato, eggplant and potatoes. I decided to try making a much lighter version of traditional Moussaka.  After I made some changes to the original recipe, I don’t think it should be called Moussaka anymore.  So let’s just call it tomato and eggplant casserole. My basic idea behind this recipe is that I wanted to use ground chicken instead of beef or lamb and wanted to replace the béchamel sauce.  But don’t you worry.  I’m not giving up on the cheese part completely.

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time 45 minutes
Serving size: 4
Calories: 740 per one serving.

Ingredients:
4 small eggplants or 2 large ones
2 medium size potatoes
8 tomatoes
2 skinless chicken breasts (I ground them myself.  You can buy ground chicken, though you will never know what part of the chicken was in there)
8 oz/225 g of mozzarella cheese
1 large onion, finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
½ cup of white wine
1 tbsp of canola oil
1 tsp of cinnamon
2 tbsp of dried oregano
½ tsp of red chili flakes
2 tbsp of dried basil
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 cups of diced tomatoes or crushed tomatoes
1 tsp sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
5-6 leaves of fresh basil

Preparation:
Start with preparing the vegetables. Slice the eggplant into ½ inch/1 cm slices and then sprinkle salt all over them and put them aside for 15 minutes. They will start sweating a little and it will help get rid of the bitter taste while cooking.

In the meantime peel the potatoes and slice them into ½ inch/1 cm slices. Set this aside and start dicing the onion, then mince the garlic at the end. You should also slice the tomatoes into the same size as eggplant and potatoes.

If you decide to grind the chicken yourself this would be a good time to do it. Once you have it ready, preheat the oven to 200C/400F degrees.

Make the Meat layer:
In a large sauté pan or dutch oven pour the canola oil and wait until it gets hot. Add the sliced onion and reduce the heat to medium. Let it sizzle until they soften, approximately 2 minutes, add the minced garlic and stir it for about 20 seconds. Make sure it’s medium heat because you don’t want to burn the garlic. Add 2 tablespoons of the tomato paste, cinnamon, chili flakes, oregano and basil.  Stir it again for another 30 seconds until the paste dissolves a little bit and you can smell all the fragrance from the dried herbs and spices. Now add the ground chicken, stir it and wait until the pink color disappears. It should not take more than 2 minutes. Add the white wine and cook it down for about 5 minutes to allow most of the liquid to evaporate.

At the end add the canned diced or crushed tomatoes. Stir it and cook it for another 10 minutes until all the ingredients mix and sauce thickens up. Add a pinch of salt and pepper at the end.  You should get a chunky and thick sauce. If you see there is still too much liquid you can let it cook for another 5 to 10 minutes until it reaches the right consistency.
Now it’s time to assemble our casserole.
Heat the oven to 200C/400F degrees.

I use a deep baking dish similar to a lasagna pan but you can also use a heat proof roasting pan. (You will not need a lid to cover it while cooking, but if the mozzarella cheese starts getting too brown at the end you can use some tin foil to cover it while the other vegetables are finishing cooking.)

Pat dry the eggplant that were sitting on the side with the salt on them.

Place a layer of potatoes on the bottom of the pan and then a layer of eggplant slices and tomatoes and top it with a layer of the meat and tomato sauce. Then top with another layer of potatoes, eggplant and tomatoes and meat sauce. But the third and last layer will be just remaining eggplant and tomatoes and the long waiting mozzarella cheese. I’m not using any extra fat at the bottom of my pan because there will be enough sauce coming out of the tomatoes to keep it from sticking at the bottom.
Put the casserole in the oven in the middle rack and bake for 45 minutes. If you see that the cheese is getting to brown put some tin foil over the top of it and keep baking.

When you take it out of the oven make sure that potatoes are cooked through and if you think they are not you should put the casserole back in the oven. When it’s finally ready, take it out of the oven and let it sit for 5-10 minutes to cool down and let all the ingredients combine.

Just before serving you can garnish the dish with some fresh basil.

 

dish

 dish done

1 Comment

  1. Khadija Hashemi

    Thanks for sharing your Blog, I will try some recipes & will let you know:)

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