My sister, Marcia, called me raving about a healthy vegetable moussaka she made. She’s recently gone vegetarian, actually nearly vegan, and always has a new dish to share with me. Of course, I demanded her recipe. It’s been neatly tucked away for several months and I finally made it last week.
I now understand what all the fuss was about. Marcia has served this dish to dinner guests and I’d do the same. Of course, Joe and I loved this gluten-free, sugar-free moussaka right out of the oven. It was even better when we had the leftovers the following night.
If you met Marcia, you might at first mistake her for Angelina Jolie, which makes me want to stand across the room from her instead of next to her. “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful,” should be her motto. Instead, though, her inner beauty shines even brighter than her external beauty. It made it easy to reconcile my envy.
Marcia’s giving heart is always willing to share whatever she has with you. She may not have planned to make dinner for an unexpected guest but happily runs out to the store and throws together a nourishing meal. Whenever we fly home, she offers her lush guest room to Joe and I along with her car. Her refrigerator is stocked with foods we love and she rearranges her schedule to spend time with us.
The name Marcia means ‘Brave.’ How true. I’ve seen her stand strong in situations that would have leveled me. Though she’s my baby sister, I learn from her every time we talk.
Though she’s 1000 miles away, there’s something that connects me to her when I make food she loves. It’s the same closeness I feel when I make favorite variation of my Grandma Ruth’s Rice Pudding or Fresh Apple Cake inspired by Martha Rose Shulman.
Somehow, food bridges the miles. And my heart is grateful.
This recipe originally came from Fat-Free Vegetarian, edited by Ann Sheasby.
Serves: 6 - 8 servings
- 1 (1 pound) eggplant, sliced ¼ inch thick
- ½ cup French green lentils (puy lentils)
- 2½ cups vegetable stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 8 ounces roma tomatoes, cored and diced
- 2 tablespoon extra vigrin olive oil
- 1 onion, cut in half and sliced in moons
- 1 clove of garlic, grated on a microplane
- 3 cups cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained & rinsed
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can choppped tomatoes, undrained
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil
- 1¼ cups low-fat plain yogurt
- 3 eggs
- ½ – ¾ cups freshly grated parmesan reggiano
- kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Place eggplant slices in a collander and sprinkle with kosher salt. Toss to cover. Place collander in sink and let them drain while preparing the rest of the recipe. This removes the bitter juices from the eggplant.
- Pick over lentils and rinse. Place the lentils, stock, and bay leaf in a saucepan. Cover, bring to a boil, and simmer for 30 minutes or until lentils are just tender. Keep warm.
- Heat olive oil in a large, steep sided saute pan over medium low heat. Add onion and cook for 8 – 10 minutes until translucent. Add garlic and cook for another minute or until fragrant. Drain lentils, reserving stock, and add to pan along with chickpeas, mushrooms, fresh and canned tomatoes, tomato paste, and basil. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. If sauce gets too thick, add a few tablespoons of reserved vegetable broth.
- Rinse eggplant slices and pat dry with paper towels. While sauce is cooking, heat remaining olive oil in a second large non-stick pan over medium high heat. Cook eggplant for about 5 minutes, turning once.
- Taste the lentil mixture and season to taste with salt and pepper. Place one layer of the cooked eggplant in the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish. Top with half of the lentil mixture. Repeat.
- Whisk together eggs and yogurt until mixed. Season with salt and pepper. Pour yogurt mixture on top of moussaka and top with grated parmesan cheese. Bake for 45 – 50 minutes, until top is lightly browned.