Paleo Moussaka

Lasagna was always a favorite of mine as a kid, along with spaghetti, mac n’ cheese, and pretty much anything else containing pasta. Unfortunately, as you all well know by now, pasta made it pretty clear that it didn’t like me anymore at some stage during my mid-twenties. It was a sad time, or so I thought. Then came Moussaka.

This is probably the recipe that I’ve been procrastinating posting the longest, and I can let you guess why. If you’ve never made moussaka before, don’t be intimidated by this massive list of steps and ingredients, it’s just like making lasagna, using eggplant instead of noodles.

INGREDIENTS

MEAT SAUCE:

  • 2 lbs of ground meat (lamb or beef)
  • 2 Tbsp of evoo
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1 bunch of (Italian works best) parsley, chopped
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2-3 Tbsp of cinnamon, to taste
  • 1 Tsp of allspice (mix of cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg)
  • 1 Tbsp of oregano
  • ¾ Cup of wine (substitute for -2 to 3 Tbsp- balsamic vinegar, to taste)
  • 1 large can (796ml) of crushed tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp of tomato paste
  • 1 ½ Tsp of pink salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Black pepper, to taste

CAULIFLOWER BECHAMEL:

  • 1 medium head of cauliflower
  • ¼ cup of butter or ghee (use 2 tbsp of avocado oil if dairy-free)
  • ½ an onion, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp of arrowroot starch
  • ¼ cup of nutritional yeast
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ tsp of nutmeg, or one nut of whole nutmeg, grated
  • 1 tsp pink salt
  •  1 can of coconut milk, maybe more (enough to cover the cauliflower in the pot plus some to add while blending if too thick)

ASSEMBLY:
2 large eggplants, mandolined lengthwise or sliced into thin, even circles.

INSTRUCTIONS

MEAT SAUCE:

  1. Begin by chopping carrots, celery, onion and garlic (you can also place these ingredients in the robot-coupe).
  2. In a large pot, heat olive oil on medium-high heat and place chopped vegetables in. Cook for a few minutes, until onions are translucent. Add the ground meat and cook until meat is lightly browned. 
  3. Add remaining sauce ingredients and leave on a simmer overnight or for at least a few hours.
  4. When sauce has simmered for a while, taste and adjust seasonings if desired. 

CAULIFLOWER BECHAMEL:

  1. In a steel saucepan, melt half of the ghee and crank heat to medium-high. Place diced onion and cook for 2 minutes. 
  2. Add cauliflower florets to the pan and stir. Cook for a few minutes or until cauliflower becomes slightly golden. Add garlic, as well as the remaining half of the ghee, and continue stirring until melted. 
  3. Add arrowroot flour, salt & pepper, and stir to coat.
  4. Add enough coconut milk to almost cover the cauliflower (add more than 1 cup if needed) and leave on medium to high heat. Bring to a boil, lower heat to medium, cover, and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes or until cauliflower is soft.  
  5. When cauliflower is super tender, add nutritional yeast and freshly grated nutmeg. 
  6. Using an immersion blender, puree the cauliflower mixture until all chunks are gone. You should get a nice smooth texture here, so feel free to add more coconut milk if needed. 
  7. Once sauce is the right consistency, allow to cool down for about 10-15 minutes and blend in the 3 eggs.

EGGPLANT OR ZUCCHINI:

  1. Preheat oven to 350f. Place eggplant or zucchini slices on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, spacing them out (do not stack!). You will need to do this in batches.
  2. Leave in the oven until the eggplant or zucchini has dehydrated and has slightly crispy edges. This step will prevent the Moussaka from being too runny.

ASSEMBLY:

  1. At the bottom of a large glass dish (a lasagna dish), place one layer or the eggplant/zucchini.
  2. Scoop a generous amount of meat sauce and place on top of the eggplant layer. spread evenly.
  3. Place another layer of eggplant, covering the meat sauce.
  4. Repeat this one more time, finishing off with the cauliflower bechamel on top.
  5. Place in the oven and bake for about 45 mins. Finish on broil for a couple of minutes if you want it more golden.
  6. Allow to rest at least 15 minutes and serve. Garnish with fresh italian parsley.
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