Avian Invaders and Greek Food—Yep, It’s as Completely Unrelated as You Think

When I came home from work today, this little guy had taken up residence in the base of my deck. I gave him wide berth, but he somehow managed to give me the “Whatchoo talking bout, Willis” look from every angle.

I am pretty sure that look is the “bleep off” version of bird. Hopefully, he’ll move along soon, because my boys will start thinking he’s a pet if he hangs around much longer.

In completely unrelated news, the garden continues to produce food faster than we can eat, can and freeze. I got a little desperate this weekend, and did a frantic search for eggplant recipes, with the hope of reducing the pile of vegetables that is overtaking my kitchen counter. I landed on Moussaka (which I can’t even pronounce, by the way), and decided that a little experimentation was in order.

I certainly did not have high hopes for this recipe. First, it contained a bunch of ingredients that regularly send the heathens into riot-mode. Second, I am a Louisiana girl, and my pathetically underdeveloped palate is still confounded by the spice combinations that are in a lot of Greek food. Indian food too, for that matter. Lastly, just the simple fact that eggplant is the main ingredient was enough to have my husband doing the dramatic choking/dying pantomime. *Sigh*

Well, lo and behold, we all liked this dish, and I got to rack up the cool mom points for a garden-fresh meal. It was deliciously rich and cheesy, and the eggplant was well-disguised from the heathens’ vegetable-laser-vision. I don’t know how “authentic” this recipe is, but our simpleton taste buds sure enjoyed it, and I was able to reduce my vegetable invasion for at least a day.

I served the Moussaka with a simple Greek salad (also using veggies from the garden):

And got to feel like the Saturday dinner superstar. Want to have a Moussaka adventure of your own? Here’s the recipe I used:

Moussaka

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Ingredients

  • 3 eggplants, peeled and cut lengthwise into 1/2 inch thick slices
  • salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • salt to taste
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon fines herbs
  • 2 tablespoons dried parsley
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • salt to taste
  • ground white pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions

  1. Lay the slices of eggplant on paper towels, sprinkle lightly with salt, and set aside for 30 minutes to draw out the moisture. Then in a skillet over high heat, heat the olive oil. Quickly fry the eggplant until browned. Set aside on paper towels to drain.
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and add the ground beef, salt and pepper to taste, onions, and garlic. After the beef is browned, sprinkle in the cinnamon, nutmeg, fines herbs and parsley. Pour in the tomato sauce and wine, and mix well. Simmer for 20 minutes. Allow to cool, and then stir in beaten egg.
  3. To make the béchamel sauce, begin by scalding the milk in a saucepan. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Whisk in flour until smooth. Lower heat; gradually pour in the hot milk, whisking constantly until it thickens. Season with salt, and white pepper.
  4. Arrange a layer of eggplant in a greased 9×13 inch baking dish. Cover eggplant with all of the meat mixture, and then sprinkle 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese over the meat. Cover with remaining eggplant, and sprinkle another 1/2 cup of cheese on top. Pour the béchamel sauce over the top, and sprinkle with the nutmeg. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
  5. Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees F.

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