Tag Archives: Zucchini

FIX THIS: ROASTED VEGETABLE MOUSSAKA

I am continuing on in the world of eggplant, although maybe it is no longer eggplant season in America.  Meh.  It seems like it is always eggplant season in the Middle East, so if your world is now devoid of glorious purple orbs, give a little sigh and bookmark for next year any future recipes that seem interesting.

I’m not sure I’d recommend this be a recipe you rush to come next August, although I think it has potential.  It’s from a cookbook called Perfect Mediterranean, one of those little cookbooks that probably has companion versions like Perfect Italian and Perfect Asian.  I think this book concentrates very heavily on the north Mediterranean coast, and this moussaka is definitely closer to the Greek versions than any of the Arab versions I have ever had.

We liked this dish okay but I would make a few changes next time.  My main complaint was that the sauce-to-vegetable ratio was way off; you can see from the pictures the difference between my dish and the cookbook.

In the book...

In my kitchen.

The pieces of vegetable were also annoying large to me, so I’d probably go for chunks rather than slices.  I am going to give you the recipe as is but would suggest doubling the sauce.  I also would add more garlic, because I like garlic, but I would add it to the roasting pan halfway through the process, as leaving it the whole time resulted in burnt garlic.  And I might add potatoes, which are often part of the Arab moussaka, to give it a little more substance.  What would you try to improve this dish?

ROASTED VEGETABLE MOUSSAKA

(from Perfect Mediterranean, Parragon 2008)

  • 1 large eggplant, sliced thickly
  • 2 med. zucchini, sliced thickly
  • 2 onions, cut into small wedges
  • 2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded and chopped coarsely
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped coarsely
  • 5 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 ¼ c. strained plain yoghurt
  • 14 oz. canned chopped tomatoes in juice (I used fresh tomatoes)
  • 2 oz. feta cheese

Put the eggplant, zucchini, onions, bell peppers, and garlic in a roasting pan.  Drizzle over the oil, toss together, and then sprinkle over the thyme and season with salt and pepper.  Roast in a preheated oven, 425 F/220 C, for 3-35 minutes, turning the pan halfway through the cooking, until golden brown and tender.

Meanwhile, beat together the eggs and yoghurt and season with salt and pepper.  When the vegetables are cooked, reduce the oven temperature to 350 F/180 C.

Put half the vegetables in a layer in a large ovenproof dish.  Spoon over the tomatoes and their juice, then add the remaining vegetables.  Pour over the yoghurt mixture and crumble over the feta cheese.  Bake in the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until golden brown.  Serve hot, warm, or cold.

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CAN I CALL THIS SALAD?

We returned from our trip Over The River yesterday evening, so dinner last night and tonight necessitated quick and easy as well as minimal ingredients, as I’ve yet to go to market.  Fortunately (kind of)* I have a small stock of various canned, dry and frozen goods and had left some zucchini in the refrigerator while we travelled, hoping it would stay good.  And it did, because this refrigerator is golden and takes care of its contents.

So I pulled out the rice and the frozen molokheyya.  (Molokheyya post forthcoming; you’re in for a treat with that one!)  But it didn’t seem colorful enough to be the entire meal, and lacked any protein.  Also, although the weather is cooling down, it’s still too hot to eat only hot foods.  The answer?  A simple mix, semi-inspired by the results of a Google search for “white beans corn zucchini” and using the standard Mediterranean/Middle Eastern yoghurt salad as a dressing.

To be honest, I wasn’t that excited when I first tasted the beans and vegetables together, but once that yoghurt dressing was drizzled on, this salad was transformed into something summery and zingy and well worth the little effort it required.

White Bean, Corn and Zucchini Salad

  • 1 can white beans, drained and rinsed well
  • 1 can corn, drained (or about 1 1/2 c. fresh corn, barely boiled/steamed until tender, if you’re so lucky to have it!)
  • 2 small zucchini, diced
  • 1 very small onion, diced
  • 1 cup yoghurt
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • big pinch of mint and salt

Mix beans and vegetables.

Mix yoghurt, garlic, mint and salt.  Drizzle over vegetables.

See, isn’t that easy?  And so many things you can add or substitute…black beans instead of white, red or green bell peppers, cilantro instead of mint, tomatoes…

*I have ambivalent feelings about canned and frozen foods.  Generally they are more expensive than their fresh counterparts, and I wonder about the preservatives, loss of nutrients over time, and the environmental impact of transporting food around the world.  (For instance, the can of corn I used tonight came from Thailand; I wonder what its carbon footprint would be.)  But sometimes convenience wins.