I'm not sure that this looks like much to you all, but this picture represents about three hours in the kitchen!
My great friend Missy (the one who lives in Vienna) introduced me to Greek food a long time ago. She lived in Greenville, South Carolina at the time & she invited me down for a visit one May. I knew that we would have a great time relaxing & hanging out. I had no idea we were going to go to the Greek Festival. My oh my oh my! During that little trip I discovered that Greek food is the best food on earth.
Since then I have only been able to eat Greek on a very sporadic basis. I haven't been back to Greenville since Missy's wedding (over three years ago!). My sister-in-law lives in Quincy, Illinois & they have a spectacular Greek restaurant called The Olive. Every time we visit we have a meal there. Every time I get the Moussaka. It's. That. Good.
I was flipping through a magazine not too long ago & I found a recipe for Veggie Moussaka. Since the Hubs & I aren't big meat eaters I clipped the recipe & put it in my "to try" basket. There it sat until about a week ago. I called up our Greek Food Loving Friend, Autumn & invited her over for some Veggie Moussaka. She agreed to guinea pig it with us & I set out for the grocery.
I have to admit that I did a bit of research online about eggplant. I have only cooked with it once before & the results were not positive. I was a little afraid that I'd pick an overripe one & not know it. Armed with my new knowledge, I set out. I found that this in not the best recipe to make in the dead of winter. It was difficult to find eggplant, zucchini, & yellow squash that weren't soft & shrivel-y. But I made do!
The reason that this dish takes so long is that you have to do a lot of processing. The eggplant must be sliced, salted on both sides, left to rest for 30 minutes, then washed off & dried. Then it must be roasted in the oven for 30 minutes. While all that is going on, you gotta wash, chop & cook the zucchini, yellow squash, & mushrooms. There was a lot going on, let me tell you!
The part I was most nervous about (aside from my concerns that I was going to inadvertently serve rotten eggplant) was the cheese sauce for the top. It's a rich combination of butter, flour, milk, & Parmesan cheese - the really good grated kind, not the powdery stuff. This combination has to almost boil & then simmer for a while on the stove top. Let's just say I have a well-known reputation for scorching things on the stove top. Autumn kept me focused & I am happy to say that no scorching took place.
After all of this yumminess is assembled it must bake for 60-70 minutes. Autumn & I left Mike in charge of the timer & went mall-walking. I know, mall-walking is totally senior citizen of us but we have a little mall with two flights of stairs that we incorporate into our laps. Besides, I am so way winter-wimpy that you won't catch me outside for a walk unless it is at least 40 degrees.
Anyway, a couple of miles later we headed back home & the Veggie Moussaka was ready. I think we were all a little apprehensive about digging in. I even offered to order pizza if it was gross. At this point we had waited so long to eat I think they were hungry enough to eat just about
anything (part of my strategy - moohahaha!).
Short story long, we all loved it! It is definitely something I will make again - just probably on a Saturday :-)