Middle eastern vegetarian moussaka
Moussaka is a Middle Eastern and Greek traditional recipe; it is cooked vegetarian or with minced meat – with or without a béchamel. Here is a version with melted Chevrette cheese.
2 lb tomatoes (peeled & roughly chopped)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion (minced)
2 garlic cloves (minced)
1/2 cup hot water
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper (to taste)
1 handful raisins (optional)
1 tablespoon oregano (AND a bit more for garnish)
10 oz Frico Chevrette cheese (sliced)
Peel and cut tomatoes in chunks, then blend them into a juice.
Heat olive oil in a large saucepan. Cook minced onion and garlic until onion is translucent. Add tomato juice, tomato paste, water, cinnamon, bay leaves, salt & pepper. Once it comes to boil, lower heat, cover and let it simmer for 15 minutes. A couple of minutes before you take it off the heat, throw in the raisins and oregano.
In the meantime, heat corn oil in a large flat pan over medium heat. Add the first batch of eggplant slices and fry on both sides (about 4 minutes) until golden. Place pan-fried eggplant slices on kitchen paper to dry out excess oil. Season with salt & pepper.
Preheat oven broiler.
In a pyrex or oven dish (about 8×16 inches in size), place the first layer of pan-fried eggplant slices. Pour half the tomato sauce over it then about 5 to 6 slices from the Chevrette on top. Arrange another layer of eggplants followed by the rest of the tomato sauce and top it with the remaining Chevrette slices. Sprinkle some chopped oregano for garnish.
Place the moussaka in the oven for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly from the broiler. Serve warm preferably with Baladi or Pita bread.