Bulgarian Moussaka

Bulgarian MoussakaTraditionally a simple and very straightforward dish, this healthy twist Moussaka brings in some new ingredients for a fresh take on the original. By using low fat versions of the ingredients, you can keep the overall fat and calorie count low, and still enjoy this warming and hearty dish. Lean ground beef, especially when its grass-fed beef, can be a healthy part of your diet. Grass-fed beef is high in heart healthy omega fatty acids, and packs a punch with lean protein that bolsters your muscles and gives your metabolism a boost. Low fat dairy also provides protein, and calcium for strong bones and teeth. This is the perfect dish to make on a chilly winter night, great for a crowd, or the perfect dish for leftovers.

Total Time: 25 minutes
Serves Six

Ingredients:

  • 1 large eggplant, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound lean ground beef, preferably grass-fed
  • 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup low-fat feta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 large egg
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Fresh chopped parsley, to serve

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. On a baking sheet, toss the eggplant with 3 tablespoons olive oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes, until tender and starting to turn golden.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon olive oil over medium heat, and sauté the onion and garlic until golden, 5-7 minutes. Add the ground beef, and cook for 5 more minutes, breaking up the beef, until it is no longer pink. Add the cooked eggplant, and stir well to combine.
  3. Add the canned tomatoes, parsley, and herbs, and stir well to combine. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, and transfer to a casserole dish.
  4. In a bowl, whisk together the ricotta cheese, feta cheese, egg, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Top the dish with the cheese mixture, smoothing the surface and working the cheese into the corners.
  5. Bake for 5-10 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling and golden brown, using the broiler if necessary. Serve hot, garnished with fresh chopped parsley, if desired.

Note: To make this dish vegetarian, just roast additional vegetables (zucchini, carrots, fennel, sweet potatoes) and use in place of the beef.

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About The Author

Elizabeth is a graduate of Hamilton College and The French Culinary Institute, as well as an avid world traveler and dinner party hostess. For more information, visit her website: www.elizabethpalmerkitchen.com

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