Friday, 17 July 2015

Light moussaka

Even before I got familiar with the expression "comfort food" I already knew it existed.
Not the expression itself, but the feeling of food that automatically warms you up, food that makes you feel good when you first taste it, food that can solve almost, almost any problem, present or future; Food that will warm your body and soul at once.
In my personal comfort food category there are quite many things, as to get into that category all they need is just to put a smile in my face.
In this category there is always a place for moussaka.
What I have done in today's recipe is just a leaner, cleaner version of the traditional one, but still with all its comforting filling –and taste! So, I have significantly reduced the fat by substituting beef for chicken and turkey, and I have changed béchamel by a sauce made with yogurt. Although you might think that it does not sounds appealing at all, believe me: you should give it a chance. Even as light and reduced in fat, this version is still one of those dishes that will cheer your stomach every time.
 It will be nice as prepared, but will get into perfection overnight. It  freezes wonderfully (with the only precaution of freezing it without the yogurt sauce). You can double the amount and freeze one moussaka without the yogurt sauce. When you want to have it, add the sauce and re-heat as needed.
Just one tip: as you will need some time for the yogurt to release the serum you have to do this step at least a few hours earlier. Best if you leave it running down overnight in the fridge and prepare directly the following morning.
Then, just prepare to open your comfort food repertoire to a clean take on the traditional moussaka.

Light moussaka
Ingredients (4 to 6 people)

250 grams plain non-fat yogurt
500 grams ground turkey (or chicken or mix of both)
1 onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (1/2 if you are not too fond of spice)
1 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more for the aubergines
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 can (400 grams) chopped peeled tomatoes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried oregano)
2 medium aubergines (about 500 grams)
50 grams grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg plus 1 large egg white
Olive-oil cooking spray


Drain the yogurt in a cheesecloth-lined sieve until thickened, (2 hours or overnight). Place the turkey in a medium saucepan over medium heat; cook until browned, about 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a medium bowl. Add onion, garlic, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and pepper to the saucepan; cook until onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Return turkey to saucepan with tomatoes and oregano. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium low; simmer until sauce has thickened, about 1 hour. Remove from heat; set aside.
Preheat your grill. While the stuffing cooks, cut the aubergines into slices, longitudinally. Sprinkle with salt on both sides. Place in a colander over a bowl; let stand to drain. Discard liquid; rinse each slice under cold running water to remove all salt and juice (this is the classic way, as they say aubergines will be bitter unless you do this. However, in my experience, you can perfectly live skipping this step, so, if you do not have the time, just skip it altogether without fear of any catastrophe).  Dry the slices on  paper towels. Lay the dry slices on a clean baking sheet; coat with olive-oil spray; grill until browned, about 2 minutes. Turn; coat with olive-oil spray; grill again until browned, about 2 minutes more. Repeat until all aubergine slices have been grilled; then, set them aside.
Place the drained yogurt in a small bowl. Add parmesan and the eggs. Whisk together briskly with a fork and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 180ºC degrees. Then, assemble the moussaka: Place a layer of aubergine on the bottom of an 20 cm by 20 cm baking pan. Cover with half the turkey sauce. Place another aubergine layer, then the remaining turkey sauce. Add a final aubergine layer; cover with the reserved yogurt mixture. Bake until the mixture is bubbling and the top starts to brown, (about 30 minutes). Transfer to a heat-proof surface; let sit until the moussaka cools slightly and firms, about 10 minutes. Cut into squares; serve.

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