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Eggplant-Potato Moussaka with Pine Nut Cream

I'm still having fun playing around with raw food, but it's less enticing to the boyfriend. So...let's have fun with vegan! I just picked up the Veganomicon for myself for Christmas (with a 40% off coupon to Borders, whoo!) and have been eager to try things out. This first recipe went REALLY well so I thought I ought share. (and if the second, which so happens to be in the oven right now, turns out equally as well I will post it, too!)

Eggplant-Potato Moussaka with Pine Nut Cream
(from Veganomicon page 164-5)





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Vegetable Layer
1 lb eggplant
1 lb zucchini
1 1/2 lb russet or baking potatoes
1/4 c olive oil

Sauce
1/4 c olive oil
4 large shallots, sliced thinly
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 c vegetable broth or red wine
2 (15 oz) cans crushed tomatoes
2 t dried oregano
1/4 t ground cinnamon
1 bay leaf
Salt

Pine Nut Cream
1 lb silken tofu
1/2 c pine nuts, plus additional for garnish
3 T lemon juice
1 t arrowroot powder
1 clove garlic
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/4 t salt, or to taste
White pepper

Preheat the oven to 400F. Lightly oil three baking sheets or shallow pans.

Prepare the vegetables
Wash the eggplant and zucchini, and trim the stems. Scrub and peel the potatoes. Slice the eggplant, zucchini, and potatoes lengthwise into approximately 1/4 inch thick slices. Rub the eggplant slices with a little salt and set aside in a colander in the sink or in a big bowl for about 15 minutes to drain. Briefly rinse with cold water and pat dry with a paper towel.

Place each vegetable on a separate baking sheet. Distribute the 1/4 c of oil among the three and sprinkle the vegetables with salt (except eggplant). Toss to coat the vegetables on each sheet, making sure each piece is completely coated with oil. Drizzle a little extra oil on the eggplant, as it has a slight tendency to stick. Spread out the vegetables on each sheet; some overlapping is okay. Roast the pans of zucchini and eggplant for 15 minutes, or until tender. Roast the potatoes for about 20 to 22 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned. Allow the vegetables to cool.

While the vegetables are cooking, prepare the tomato sauce
Combine the remaining 1/4 c olive oil and minced garlic in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Heat over medium heat and let the garlic sizzle for about 30 seconds, then add the shallots and cook until soft and translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until slightly reduced, another 3 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes, oregano, ground cinnamon, and bay leaf. Partially cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 12 to 14 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sauce should reduce slightly. Turn off the heat, remove the bay leaf, and adjust the salt.

Make the pine nut cream
In a food processor, blend the pine nuts and lemon juice, scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, until a creamy paste forms. Add the tofu, garlic, arrowroot, nutmeg, salt, and white pepper. Blend until creamy and smooth.

Final assembly
Lightly oil a 9 x 13 pan and preheat the oven again to 400F, if necessary. Spread 1/4 c of sauce on the pan, then add successive layers in order of eggplant, potatoes, sauce, and half the bread crumbs. Spread all the zucchini on top of this. Top with a final layer each of eggplant, potatoes, sauce, and bread crumbs. Use a rubber spatula to evenly spread the pine nut cream over the entire top layer. Scatter a few pine nuts on top, if desired.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the top is lightly browned and a few cracks have formed in the topping. Allow to cool 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

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Notes
(from the book)
The zucchini will likely be very water after roasting, so when it's cool enough to touch, gently but firmly squeeze the slices, by the handful, to remove any excess water. This will prevent an overly wet casserole and will help concentrate the flavors.

(mine)
I did not have a fresh lemon, so used limes for juice for the pine nut cream and found it worked out quite nicely.

I used one large can of crushed tomatoes which is, technically, slightly less than two small cans but it was a-ok.

I made this a two day project--I sliced and roasted the veggies on one day, let them cool, and then packed them up in the fridge. The following day I did the sauces and assembly.

I think an extra 1/2 lb of eggplant would be useful to get two full layers in a 9 x 12. Also, be sure not to cut the eggplant and zucchini too thick.

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Comments

Looks delicious!