But, first the Vegan Moussaka. I love anything Greek, especially the food. During the crazy 70’s, my mom went through a Greek phase. She experimented with making Dolmas by rolling lamb in grape leaves with rice, parsley and onion. I can hear her now, “Clio, it’s a perfect, simple blend of simple ingredients.
Being a teenager, I just wanted fast and filling. So, when I walked into her kitchen one Saturday afternoon to see her laying on top of a casserole strips of *eggplant peelings over a full dish filled with cooked ground lamb, tons of garlic, parsley, mint and tomato paste for Moussaka I couldn’t imagine… I was already thinking of the bowl of wheat chex, I’d eat later. But out of respect I forced myself to put a forkful of the stuff in my mouth. For a tasty moment, I was taken on an epicurean journey. The lamb combined with the roasted eggplant and all the Greek goodies, was so foreign and sooooo good. This exotic dish has been a favorite ever since.
And it’s quite a labor of love.
That’s what I’m into, making anything that has fiber, (the radiation is reeking havoc with Rick’s digestive tract), anything with good carbs, (the treatment zaps all the energy, which good carbs are loaded with) and anything that spells comfort for Rick. He just came in from his 12th treatment. He’s going to need a nice, filling and tasty dinner.
Moussaka with Cashew Tofu Cream
Serves: 6-8 Time: 1 ½ hours Preheat Oven: 400°F
- 3 tbsp. olive oil or more for brushing, plus more for pans
- 1 pound eggplant
- 1 pound zucchini (I mixed with yellow crookneck squash.)
- 11/2 pounds large russet potatoes
- Sea Salt
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic
- ½ cup finely chopped shallot
- ⅓ cup dry red wine
- 3 (15oz.cans diced fire roasted tomatoes)
- 2 tsp. dried oregano
- ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
- 2 bay leaves
- 11/2 salt
Cashew Tofu Cream (Bechamel):
- ½ cup unroasted cashews, soaked in cold water (20 min)
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 12 oz. soft silken tofu
- 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- ¼ tsp. grated fresh nutmeg
- 1 tsp. salt
- Olive oil
- ⅓ cup fine dried bread crumbs
- ¼ cup pine nuts (I forgot)
- Dried oregano
- Freshly grated nutmeg
I wasn’t kidding about the labor involved in the delicious dish. Be sure to put on some really good music. I had The Supremes doing their wonderful thing to me as I worked.
( A warning: Your kitchen will be trashed. )
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Line three large baking sheets with parchment paper generously and oil the sheets with olive oil Wash the eggplant, and zucchini, and trim stems.
- Scrub and peel the potatoes. Slice the eggplant, zucchini and potatoes lengthwise into approximately ¼-inch thick.
- Arrange the vegetable slices by kind on separate baking sheets in a single layer; do not overlap the slices.
- Brush with olive oil, and sprinkle with a little sea salt.
- Roast the pans of zucchini and eggplant for 15 minutes or until tender. (The potatoes will take longer 20-25 minutes.)
- Remove from oven
Meanwhile, prepare the tomato sauce.
- Place the oil and minced garlic in a large heavy duty saucepan over medium heat.
- Fry garlic for 30 seconds, add the shallot and cook until translucent, 3-4 minutes.
- Add the wine and simmer to reduce slightly, about 2 minutes.
- Add the crushed tomatoes, oregano, cinnamon, bay leaves and salt.
- Partially cover and simmer over medium-low for 12 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- The sauce should reduce slightly.
- Turn off heat, remove bay leaves.
Make cashew tofu cream:
- In a food processor, blend cashews (remember to drain the liquid) and oil, scraping the sides with rubber spatula, until creamy paste forms.
- Add the remaining cashew tofu cream ingredients. Blend until completely creamy and smooth.
Assemble the moussaka, Opa!! You’re on the homestretch!
- Generously rub a 9×13 casserole with olive oil and preheat the oven again 400°F.
- Spread ¼ cup sauce in the pan, then add in successive layers in order of eggplant, potatoes, sauce and half of the bread crumbs.
- Spread the zucchini on top of this.
- Top with a final layer each of eggplant, potatoes, sauce and bread crumbs.
- Use a spatula to evenly spread the cashew cream over the entire layer. (I used my metal frosting spatula)
- Decorate the top by scattering the pine nuts (I completely forgot) and a healthy drizzle of olive oil.
- Dust generously with oregano, and a pinch of nutmeg.
- The nutmeg is a must as it with it’s subtle flavor pulled this mixture all together.
( There is no competition between freshly grated nutmeg and the can of spice. )
*Regarding covering the casserole with eggplant skin peelings; that’s how my Mom did hers, and how I learned to do mine. But, I haven’t seen a Moussaka recipe that calls for this step. So I omitted. (I’m going to ask my Greek friend Cynthia, if that’s what her dad did with his?)
Bake covered with foil for 45 minutes, uncover and bake for another 15 minutes, then broil the top for 2-4 minutes until browned spots appear, (for the authentic Greek homemade casserole touch). For easier slicing, let cool for 10 minutes.
I served this with a gorgeous tossed green salad with chunked up honeydew melon, red bell pepper slices and walnuts, drizzled with olive oil and our own homemade red wine vinegar. (I’ll save that fun story of how we got a “hundred year old”, ‘vinegar mother’ in a trade made at a little league game.)
Feeling the love yet!!
Back to Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. Anni, our youngest sent us this #NicTailorNoPants campaign in partnership with @prostatecancerfoundation sponsored by Nic Tailor Underwear to get men talking about their prostate health.
“To all guys out there: post a pic in your underwear/bathing suit/or shorts and tag 3 other guys to do the same using #NicTailerNoPants and tagging @prostatecancerfoundation. Tag me in your pics and I’ll post you on my stories. – Peter Facinelli
And Ladies, please encourage the men in your life to participate in the campaign, and most importantly to get screened.”
I’m hoping to get a picture of Rick… he hasn’t brought it up, and he got the same message.
“Getting screened” reminds me of how seriously important the P.S.A. test is because if you feel it, it’s too late. Had Rick not fallen and broken his nose, it would have been another 12 months before he went to the doctor, and had his routine prostate antigen test done. Getting a mammogram every year is similar in importance to getting PSA blood tests annually. We feel so fortunate to have the newest state of the art treatment available. And belief in the treatment is part of the battle. Rick was just telling me, how really sick and suffering the others in the clinic are. Amazingly, he doesn’t see himself as a sick person… I call that grace.
If your: husband, dad, brother, grandpa,
uncle, cousin, best friend, pretty close friend, acquaintance, boss, co-worker, in other words the men in your lives, have prostate cancer; buy him some popsicles. You have no idea how good those taste 🙂
www.prostatecancerfoundation.org offers free prostate cancer guides, prostate cancer news and other helpful resources for patients and their families.
Ciao for now
I’ll leave you with a little teaser; next week I’m going to give you one of my all time favorite recipes; Cherry Tomato Cobbler!!!