The Boyfriend and I went out to eat at a Lebanese joint a while back and I ordered Moussaka. I had only ever had (vegetarian) Greek Moussaka, and given that this was the only plant-based main dishe on the menu, I ordered it expecting the Greek version of layered eggplant and chickpeas in this case. I was definitely surprised when the dish came out as more of an eggplant stew. You learn something new everyday!
I liked the dish, but it was really heavy on the oil and did not contain any chickpeas. I was pretty bummed, because I would never, ever order eggplant as a main dish. Rice and veggies do not make a meal in my world; I need protein in the form of beans, tofu, tempeh, or seitan in order to feel like it is worth the calories/money of a “main dish”.
That being said, I liked the flavor of the dish, so I decided to create what I wish I had been served at the restaurant.
Eggplant soaks up oil, so I choose to use very little when I cook with it. I like to get the cast iron screaming hot and “dry fry” the eggplant, then set it aside. This is my version of deep frying, very similar to dry frying tofu. Then, I soak it in the beautiful sauce and the eggplant gets all velvety and soft and decadent. It’s so much better than eating oil soaked food.
I created the sauce with onion, garlic, ginger, cumin, cinnamon, allspice, za’taar, tomatoes, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, parsley, and some other spices.
I love creating beautiful, tasty, healthy food, and am thankful for the inspiration.