November 4, 2013
OK guys, it’s getting freezing cold at my latitudes. I was so not prepared for that.
I got out of my building this morning ready to hit the pavement, and I was like “Whoa!” I went back in and had to put an extra layer of running gear on (including gloves). I have to admit it, the thought of calling it a day did cross my mind for a sec, but I somehow convinced myself not to be a wuss and I finally went for my run.
After 12 miles my feet were freezing (I should have worn thermic socks btw), I came home and I was so ready for a warm power breakfast.
Now, under such circumstances I’ll usually make myself a power smoothie or maybe some eggs with avocado, but today I felt different; I felt like I needed to reward myself, and reward myself I did.
It just happened that last night I made this paleo moussaka, which I meant to eat today (and tomorrow and the day after tomorrow) for lunch.
But this morning at 7am it was the right to eat. It was calling my name, and I had to respond.
So I dig into it. Hard. OMG, I was so right. This was probably dopest breakfast I had in months.
Moussaka, who knew.
Moussaka is such a great dish, a well-known crowd pleaser.
The best moussaka I’ve ever encountered was cooked by my Greek friend Anastasia.
It’s such a great thing to have a Greek friend who knows where to shop for the best kalamata olives in the City and that can make the best tasting pitas and moussaka you’ve ever had. Oh, you don’t have a Greek friend who can cook? I’m sorry pals.
I don’t remember how I did it, but I’ve managed to convince Anastasia to give me her moussaka recipe (not the one for the pitas though!)
And - as usual - I’m generous enough to share it with you.
I made it paleo by using a paleo bechamel sauce (aka white sauce) made with cauliflower - inspired by this recipe.
I honestly believe that taste-wise this paleo adapted bechamel sauce gives regular bechamel a run for its money. It is certainly 100 times better nutritionally.
With the cold season in full swing a warm serving of paleo moussaka will make your day a tad better. Promise.
Paleo Moussaka Print this recipe!
Don’t be put off by the long ingredient list, it’s all stuff you probably already have in your pantry. It also seems like a lot of work, it really isn’t. If you’re really good at multitasking (who isn’t these days btw), you can prepare it in a little over 30 minutes and can bake it just before dinner.
Although moussaka is excellent if served shortly after it is taken out of the oven, it’s infinitely improved if made one day in advance. It also freezes pretty well.
Makes 6 generous servings
2 medium eggplants (about 2 pounds), peeled and sliced into ½-inch thick rounds
fine grain sea salt
ground black pepper
1 lb / 453 gr organic ground lamb or lean beef (your choice)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 can 28 oz / 794 gr diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons tomato paste
2 handfuls fresh parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons dried oregano
½ to 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (to taste)
1 tablespoon red vinegar
¼ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
A pinch of ground black pepper
Paleo bechamel sauce
¾ cup / 180 ml milk (your choice, I used almond)
2 cups / 7 oz / 200 gr cauliflower florets
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
A pinch of ground black pepper
3 free-range organic eggs
Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C), place a rack in the middle.
On a baking sheet toss eggplant slices with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper.
Spread in a single layer and roast in the oven until soft and golden about 25 to 30 minutes.
While the eggplant is roasting make the meat sauce.
In a large saucepan, heat one tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat, add onions and garlic and saute for 2 to 3 minutes until translucent. Add meat and cook, stirring to prevent sticking, until meat is browned, 5 to 7 minutes (juices should run clear - if you're using lamb, and it looks greasy drain some of it off with the aid of a spoon). Stir in diced tomatoes, tomato paste, parsley, oregano, cinnamon, vinegar, salt and pepper and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside.
In the meantime make the paleo bechamel sauce. In a saucepan add cauliflower florets, milk, garlic, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover with a lid and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and with an immersion blender, blend until smooth (be careful not to splatter yourself!)
Add eggs, one at a time, working quickly making sure that they don’t poach. It will look like a thin white foamy liquid, that’s ok, it will work out in the end, trust me.
To assemble the moussaka, lightly grease a 8 x 12 inch baking dish (or small dutch ovens, like I did). Arrange eggplant slices to form a uniform layer. Cover the eggplant evenly with half of the meat mixture. Repeat to make a second layer.
Carefully spoon the cauliflower bechamel sauce over the meat mixture and spread evenly to the edges (try not to disturb the meat mixture as much as possible).
Bake uncovered for about 25 minutes, until the top is nicely puffed and browned.
Let rest 10 minutes, then sprinkle with some chopped fresh parsley and serve warm (not piping hot).
One serving yields 411 calories, 30 grams of fat, 20.7 grams of carbs and 19 grams of protein.