Vegetarian Moussaka

Sometimes I get overly ambitious and attempt to make a "weekend dinner" (you know, one that takes forever to prepare) on, say, a Wednesday night. Fortunately, Joe is more or less all right with eating dinner at 9:00.

This moussaka was probably worth the wait. If you've never had moussaka, it's kind of like the Greek version of eggplant parmesan, though it traditionally has ground meat (often lamb) spread throughout the layers and is topped with a white bechamel-style sauce. Of course, this version is vegetarian, with bulgur standing in for the meat.

Like eggplant parm, moussaka can easily be made healthier by leaving the eggplant slices naked (no breading), making the bechamel with low-fat milk, and going easy on the cheese. Not only is this better for you, but it also really lets the delicious flavor of the eggplant and Greek spices shine through.

Vegetarian Moussaka
From Cooking Light
  • 3 peeled eggplants, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices (about 2 1/2 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup uncooked bulgur
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 cups organic vegetable broth
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 14-oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup 1% low-fat milk
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated fresh Romano cheese (you can sub Parmesan)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
Preheat broiler to high. Brush eggplant slices with 1 tablespoon oil. Place half of eggplant on a foil-lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray; broil 5 inches from heat for 5 minutes on each side or until browned. Repeat procedure with remaining eggplant. Set eggplant aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add chopped onion to pan; saute 8 minutes. Add garlic; saute 1 minute. Add bulgur; cook 3 minutes or until bulgur is lightly toasted, stirring frequently. Add ground allspice, cinnamon, and cloves; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in vegetable broth, oregano, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper.

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add flour; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly with a whisk until well blended. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly with the whisk. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 5 minutes or until thickened, stirring frequently. Stir in cheese and a pinch of salt. Remove from heat, and cool slightly. Add egg, stirring well with the whisk.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Arrange half of eggplant in an 11x7 (I used 13x9) inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Spread the bulgur mixture evenly over eggplant; arrange remaining eggplant over bulgur. Top with milk mixture. Bake for 40 minutes, and remove from oven. Incerase oven temperature to 475 F. Return dish to oven for 4-5 minutes or until the top is browned. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.