This recipe is a delicious rendition of two Greek classics: moussaka (a layered eggplant dish) and pasticcio (a layered pasta dish). I took the best of both, married the flavors, slimmed it down, and created this tasty Greek inspired masterpiece. A sweet and savory meat sauce accompanied by a thick, cheesy sauce covering tender eggplant and comforting pasta means layer upon layer of unbeatable flavor. So save yourself a trip to Greece, and try my Greek pasta and eggplant bake instead!
1 medium sized eggplant
1/2 lb ground beef
8 oz. (1 cup) tomato sauce
1/2 cup red wine
1 cup uncooked pasta
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg, plus one pinch
1/2 tsp. dried parsley
4 tsp. flour
1/2 tbs. butter
2 tbs. cream cheese
1 1/2 tbs. goat cheese
1 tbs. chicken broth
2 tbs. parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling
salt and pepper
extra virgin olive oil
-brown meat with about 2 tsp. olive oil in a pan, set aside
-cut off both ends of eggplant then peel eggplant
-cut lengthwise into 1/2 inch slices
-lay the slices of eggplant onto paper towels or a large cutting board and sprinkle lightly with salt -set aside for 20-30 minutes to draw out the moisture
-lightly shake off excess moisture from eggplant, blotting with a paper towels to dry the eggplant -in a large skillet, warm 1 tbs. olive oil over medium heat
-add slices of eggplant in a single layer, cook for about 3 minutes each side (working in batches if eggplant won't all fit in the skillet at once)
-remove from the pan and set aside
-add meat, tomato sauce, and red wine to a medium sauce pan and warm on low for about 30 minutes, until sauce has thickened
-add 1/8 tsp. nutmeg, cinnamon, and parsley, stir in and set aside
-cook the pasta 1-2 minutes under package instructions
-reserve 3/4 cup cooking water before draining
-in a 9x9 casserole dish, layer eggplant in the bottom of the dish
-pour the meat sauce mixture on top of the eggplant
-spread the cooked pasta on top of the meat sauce, set aside
-in the same pan the eggplant was cooked in, add 1 tbs. olive oil, butter, and flour
-whisk together over medium-low heat for about 1-2 minutes, until flour is wet and smooth
-add 3/4 cup of the reserved cooking water, and whisk until smooth
-add cream cheese, goat cheese, and chicken broth, whisk until smooth
-add a pinch each of salt, pepper, and nutmeg and parmesan cheese, whisk until smooth, remove from heat
-pour/spread cheese mixture evenly over pasta
-sprinkle atop additional parmesan cheese
-bake in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes
-broil for an additional 3-5 minutes for a golden cheesy top
-let cool, serve, and enjoy!
serves approximately 2-3 people
This recipe was inspired by the tasty meal I had at the Greek Festival of Saints Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.
TIPS and ADAPTATIONS:
-Double the recipe for more servings.
-For the tomato sauce, use homemade, or a can/jar of your choice!
-You can make this meal meat free, just add an extra layer of eggplant and pasta. Make the tomato sauce as planned (just without the meat) and spread between the layers. You may need more than 1 cup though! Finish with cheese sauce as above.
-You can make this meal gluten free by skipping the pasta and adding an extra eggplant layers. Double the meat sauce too. Finish with cheese sauce as above.
-Use ground beef, ground veal, or crumbled sausage.
-Use the pasta shape of your choice: penne, elbows, spirals... even try a layer of lasagna noodles!
-If you don't want to use wine- don't! But use tomato paste instead of tomato sauce to skip the reduction process, adding a little bit of water or broth to thin it down slightly.
-Try mixing in some sauteed mushrooms or asparagus with the meat sauce.