On the light side – Quick and fake vegetable moussaka
Du côté léger – Moussaka rapide aux lentilles
This post is overdue, I started it before I went to Tel Aviv, but never managed to finish it, so after days of wonderful fresh food, I came back to France where the bad weather conditions made me want to go back to sunny Israel. There is definitely a Greek flair to Tel Aviv, probably the Mediterranean climate and fresh produce you find all over the markets. So Moussaka here we come.
What if you feel like moussaka without meat? People might tell you, then it’s not moussaka. So not to upset anyone, I just decided to use the word fake, even though it is prepared in the same “spirit” as a moussaka.
Since I arrived at my parents, meat, prosciutto, pâté, fois gras and other ingredients have been around the table for the holidays, and I don’t know now how I have to explain my mom that I do not enjoy to eat meat THAT much. Seems like she doesn’t believe me, or doesn’t want to believe me. So I had to somehow cook something for them today, to make them believe that vegetarian dishes are quite tasty and enjoyable. France is certainly not the country for vegetarians, and Italians are not vegetarian either, so I am just wondering if you are a vegan how you will survive here.
We went shopping to a wonderful organic supermarket with so many amazing products called “La Vie Saine” (healthy life) and came back with tons of great healthy products, I am trying to make them eat less animal based products but it’s quite a challenge to change people’s habits in their late 60s. I don’t want to change anything nor anyone but at least make them enjoy other cuisines. My parents are quite open in trying new cuisines and a lot more open minded than some other French or Italians of their generation.
So I found a lentil mix of red, green, and beluga lentils that I absolutely wanted to use, then I had eggplants, so I figured that a vegetarian moussaka would be perfect…and they really enjoyed it. So I will make this dish more often.
I am not sure there is a morale in this story, probably not but I was very happy that my vegetarian moussaka was successful in a traditional Italian and French table!
Ingredients for 4-5
- 1/2 lb (or 250 g) green lentils
- 1 yellow onion, cut in half
- 3 cloves
- 1 carrot
- 1 celery stick
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 eggplants, sliced crosswise
- 5 medium size tomatoes, seedless, peeled and chopped
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 7 oz (or 200 g) gruyère cheese, grated
- 3 tbs parsley, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 egg
- 1 egg white
- 1 tbs olive oil
- salt and pepper
Cook lentils in water and add carrot, celery, bay leaf and onion with cloves stuck in it. Cook until lentils are cooked but not mushy. Drain water and remove carrot, onion, bay leaf and celeri. Set aside.
Start with grilling the eggplants using either a grill pan or broiling them under the broiler, after sprinkling them with olive oil, salt and pepper. Set them aside.
Heat olive oil in a pan, add onion and brown them. Add tomatoes and cook until water is evaporated for about 10 minutes.
In a mixing container, add lentils, garlic, tomato mixture, parsley, egg and egg white, chili, salt and pepper.
In small ramequins, add a little olive oil, add one layer of eggplant and one layer of lentils. Sprinkle with cheese and proceed with another layer of eggplants, then lentils and cheese.
Cook for about 20 minutes in a pre-heated oven at 375F until the cheese has melted.
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