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Recipe: Lamb and Eggplant Moussaka

Written by Vermont Life on . Posted in Recipes, Taste of the Landscape

Lamb and Eggplant Moussaka
Serves 6
Ariel’s farm-to-table menu uses a palette of Vermont ingredients to create globally influenced recipes like this moussaka. Lee Duberman also makes this dish for vegetarians with 1 ½ pounds of button mushrooms in place of the lamb. Chop or pulse mushrooms coarsely in a food processor and make sure to cook the mushrooms until they release their liquid and it cooks away before adding the wine.
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  1. 1 large (about 1 ½ pounds) eggplant
  2. 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  3. Coarse salt
  4. 1 small onion, finely chopped
  5. 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  6. 1 pound ground lamb
  7. ½ cup fruity red wine
  8. 5 tablespoons tomato paste
  9. 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  10. ½ teaspoon dried oregano or 1 teaspoon fresh, minced leaves
  11. Freshly ground black pepper
  12. 4 tablespoons butter
  13. 1/3 cup flour
  14. 1 cup milk
  15. 1 large egg
  16. ¾ cup ricotta
  17. ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan
  18. ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly oil a medium (2-quart) baking dish. Peel and cut eggplant lengthwise into ½-inch-thick slices. Coat a rimmed baking sheet or shallow roasting pan with 2 tablespoons olive oil and arrange eggplant slices in one layer. Brush tops with 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle lightly with coarse salt. Bake about 20 to 25 minutes until soft and golden at edges. Remove from oven, cool slightly and line bottom of baking dish with eggplant, overlapping as necessary.
  2. While eggplant is baking, heat remaining tablespoon olive oil in a large sauté pan or skillet set over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, another minute until garlic is fragant. Add lamb and cook, stirring, until browned, about 7 to 9 minutes. Pour off as much fat as possible from pan and return to medium heat. Stir in wine, tomato paste, cinnamon, oregano, ½ teaspoon coarse salt and several grinds of pepper. Cook, stirring, about 3 to 5 minutes until wine has been absorbed. Adjust seasoning to taste. Spread meat mixture evenly over eggplant.
  3. Melt butter in medium saucepan set over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is light tan, about 2 to 3 minutes. Whisk milk in slowly until mixture is smooth. Increase heat to medium-high and bring mixture to a boil, whisking constantly. (The mixture is thicker than a standard white sauce). Remove pan from heat. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg, ricotta, Parmesan and nutmeg. Slowly whisk white sauce into egg mixture until smooth. Taste and add salt as needed. Pour evenly over meat and smooth top.
  4. Bake moussaka for 25 to 30 minutes, or until top is golden with some darker brown spots and any filling is bubbling. Allow to rest for 20 minutes before serving.
  1. Moussaka may be made a day ahead and refrigerated, covered, unbaked, or wrapped well and frozen. If baking from the fridge, add about 20 minutes and leave foil on for first 25 minutes. If baking from frozen, add about an hour with foil on and then finish baking as directed above.
  2. This recipe appeared in the Summer 2014 edition of Vermont Life. Photo by Andrew Wellman.
Adapted from Chef and co-owner Lee Duberman, Ariel's Restaurant, Brookfield
Adapted from Chef and co-owner Lee Duberman, Ariel's Restaurant, Brookfield
Vermont Life Magazine http://vermontlife.com/

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