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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Lazy Moussaka

I call this "lazy" because I used pre-made tomato sauce from Trader Joe's in the recipe. I don't normally do this sort of thing as I prefer being a "from scratch" cook, as I hate most prepared foods and their long lists of icky ingredients I don't want in my body. But I was at Trader Joe's the other day, and I know they are often better than most about things like that, so I picked up a bottle of sauce and looked at the ingredient list. All real foods, and nothing I wouldn't eat or use myself anyway (as long as I was having tomato), so I popped it into my grocery cart, and today I found a use for it in my nightshade moussaka dish.

But if you are a *really* lazy cook you might still think this recipe is too much work. :-)

Lazy Moussaka

- 1 lb. ground beef (mine was grass-fed)
- 1 largish leek (onion is fine but I had a leek)
- 1 green pepper
- 3 tomatoes
- 1 eggplant
- 3 medium-sized potatoes
- 1/2 a jar of Trader Joe's Three Cheese Pomodoro Pasta Sauce*
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- plenty of cheese of your choice, shredded or thinly sliced

Pre-heat oven to 350 F (180 C)
Peel and then thinly slice the eggplant, and lay slices on a paper-towel lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle with sea salt, and set aside. This will drain some of the watery juices from the eggplant, and some feel it helps get rid of the bitter taste some people experience. (note if you have more eggplants you are welcome to use 2-3 of them and slice a little thicker. I just happened to have only one, so this recipe is how I made it).

Then peel the potatoes, and slice them thinly as if for potato chips. Place in a pot of water, and bring to a boil, cooking until you can pierce them with a fork pretty easily. Then drain.

While they are boiling slice the tomatoes thinkly into slices. Set aside. Then chop and dice the green peppers and the leek, including as much of the leek's green top as you wish. Ditto if you are using scallions. Obviously not an issue if using a plain onion.

Then saute the leek and pepper in a large skillet with your choice of cooking fat. I used bacon grease. When they have softened and slightly browned transfer them to a large bowl.

By now the eggplant should have drained, so take the layers and layer them on a greased baking sheet. I used coconut oil for the grease. Place in oven to bake.

Put the chopped beef into the skillet and saute until the beef is browned. Then add the cooked beef to the pepper and leek in the large bowl. Pour in a half jar of the Trader Joe's Three Cheese Sauce, add the tsp of cinnamon, and blend well.

Check the eggplant. If sliced thinly enough they should be easily pierced with a fork at this point, and slightly browned. You can flip them if you want and let them lightly brown on the other side too.

Then get out a 9x13 casserole dish, and grease it. I use coconut oil for the grease, but olive oil or butter would be fine too.

Remove eggplant from oven. Then line the bottom of the casserole dish with half the eggplant. On top of that place a layer of half the potato. Then top with a layer of half the tomatoes. Spoon half the meat mixture on top of that and try to spread evenly. Sprinkle or layer half your cheese over the meat. Then repeat the eggplant/potato/tomato/meat sauce/cheese layers with your remaining ingredients.

Place in over and bake for about 20-30 minutes, until heated through, and the top layer of cheese is a bit browned and bubbly. Enjoy and eat!

* Trader Joe's Three Cheese Sauce Ingredient list:
- imported Italian plum tomatoes, Romano, Parmesan and Asiago cheese (milk, salt, cheese cultures, enzymes), olive oil, onion, salt,, crushed garlic, oregano.

NOTE: I have been having one serving of this every day for three days now, but my knee has not been bothering me. I guess the jury is still mixed on nightshades.

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