Thursday, September 12, 2013

eating my share: open to interpretation

While collecting our share on Tuesday, there was talk about what to make with the copious amount of red bell peppers this week. Willy was telling another member about his recipe for Eggplant Parmesan Stuffed Peppers. Um, yes! Willy gave me the green light to use his idea on the blog and I walked home happily thinking of how I would do just that. However, thoughts of another lusciously layered eggplant dish entered my mind...Moussaka.

Many dishes are best left open to interpretation. Different translations of the same theme are seen around the world. Stuffed foods range from cabbage rolls and grape leaves to ravioli, dumpling and pierogies. Layered casseroles appear in the form of lasagna, shepherd's pie and potato gratin.

So why not mash it all up and make your own version of something? Here is my interpretation of Willy's Stuffed Peppers combined with thoughts of Moussaka.

after stuffing, prior to baking and mid-béchamel(ing)

Moussaka (ish) Stuffed Red Peppers
It's easiest to split up this recipe into two nights work. Roast the eggplant and make the tomato sauce one night. The next night, make the béchamel sauce, stuff the peppers, bake and eat. This recipe makes a lot so invite some friends over or freeze leftovers. If desired, ground lamb would be delicious and appropriate in these. Or grill up some lamb patties to serve alongside like we did.

roasted eggplant
2 lbs eggplant, cut into large chunks
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp aleppo pepper
(or 1/2 tsp hot red pepper flakes)
2 tbs olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350. Toss eggplant chunks with salt and let sit for 20-30 minutes. Sprinkle in the other spices and mix well. Stir in the olive oil and stir to combine. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, switching racks after 15 minutes.

tomato sauce
1 tbs olive oil
1 cup diced onion
2 lbs saladette tomatoes*
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 tsp salt + more to taste
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup water
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tbs fresh oregano or mint
4 oz feta cheese, cut into cubes

Heat the olive oil and once it is hot, add the onion. Cook a few minutes until translucent and slightly golden. Stir in the tomatoes, garlic and balsamic vinegar.

Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. After 10 minutes, mash with a potato masher or spoon and add 1/4 cup of water. Cook another 5 minutes and then remove from heat.

Stir in lemon juice, cinnamon and oregano. Stir together with the roasted eggplant. Cool a bit and then stir in feta cheese.

* These are the smaller round tomatoes we've been getting in our shares. Bigger slicing tomatoes can be used but they may produce more liquid and therefore require more time to reduce down into sauce.

béchamel sauce
3 tbs butter
1/4 cup flour
1 cup milk (any percentage)
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
freshly grated nutmeg.

Melt the butter in a pan. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Cook for about a minute until the color darkens slightly. Whisk in the milk and yogurt and cook for 2-3 minutes while stirring, until thickened. Season to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

bring it all together
Slice 5 red bell peppers in half and remove the stems and seeds. Stuff each pepper with eggplant/tomato mix and arrange in a baking pan lined with foil or parchment paper. Top each pepper with béchamel sauce. Bake on the bottom rack of the oven for 40-45 minutes.

How do you re-interpret classic recipes?

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