So Fall is finally here guys! My absolute favorite time of the year – cooler temperatures, the leaves changing, sweaters, jeans and boots, leather jackets, crickets late in the day along with spectacular sunsets… and especially the FOOD!
I had some gorgeous porcini linguine that I bought at the RochesterDowntown Farmer’s Market on hand, and thought a Spicy Beef and Mushroom Ragu sauce would be the perfect compliment for a savory tasty Fall pasta dish.
I added someCrushed Hot Chili Pepper Spread to the beef and mushroom mixture sautéed with shallots and garlic, which took the flavor and heat up just a notch…then added a little spicy marinara sauce, but not too much…
After I cooked the pasta, I mixed the beef and mushroom ragu back into the pot, and tossed it all together with some of the reserved pasta water and lots of parmesan cheese, just because.
Of course I topped it all of with a generous sprinkle of freshparsley and torn mozzarella cheese, salt and pepper… and it happily made my day.
This pasta dish has a savory umami flavor from the porcini mushroom linguine, along with a spicy beef and mushroom ragu zested up with some red chile pepper paste, shallots and garlic. Super healthy and delicious with some crusty Italian bread and olive oil and a glass of red wine.
* 1 pound porcini mushroom linguine
* 2 tbsp olive oil
* 3/4 pound ground beef
* 6-8 baby bella mushrooms, sliced
* 2 shallots, sliced thin
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 2 tablespoons spicy hot chili pepper paste (Colavita)
* 3/4 cup marinara sauce
* 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
* Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
* 2-3 slices fresh mozzarella cheese, torn into pieces
* 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Cook pasta in salted boiling water for about 9-10 minutes until al dente, drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta water, and set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat, cook the ground beef, about 5-7 minutes, drain and set aside.
Add the additional tablespoon of olive oil and cook garlic, mushrooms and shallots for another 5 minutes or so until soft and cooked through. Mix into the cooked ground beef mixture and add spicy chili pepper paste and marinara sauce with some of the reserved pasta water until it's soft and mixes together into a sauce (but not overly saucy). Feel free to add more sauce and water to your liking for the desired consistency and thickness / thinness of the sauce.
Toss the meat ragu in with the cooked pasta, add parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve pasta with fresh torn mozzarella and chopped fresh parsley.
Happy Memorial Day! A time to reflect all of those brave soldiers and military servicemen and women who have sacrificed their lives and families for the safety of ours. Big applause and respect goes out to them and grateful we have a safe and secure country to live in because of them.
In honor of the holiday, I rounded up a few of my favorite recipes to celebrate. Wishing you all a lovely holiday, hopefully filled with family and friends, food and drink and grateful hearts to our heroes.
Now that Summer is rapidly approaching, I am so excited about getting outdoors to enjoy the warm weather and especially cooking outdoors with friends and family. Grilling is one of my favorite ways to cook in warm weather months, simply because it’s so easy and a healthy way to cook, and it usually takes place with a group of friends outside making fun memories and laughter to go with it.
I recently went down to Atlanta where I used to live to visit some old friends and we had a blast grilling outside on my friend’s outdoor BBQ grill in her backyard. We sat around the grill and made grilled sliders, shrimp, jalapeno poppers, and wings (with lots of snacks and drinks to go with of course!) It reminded me of the good old days when I used to live there… living and working in NYC we don’t get the opportunity to grill much anymore and it’s a precious occasion when I go to visit my friends and family who live in greener pastures.
One of my favorite things to make is a big juicy grilled steak..it’s always a tasty treat, easy to prepare and everyone loves it…especially with some grilled vegetables, salad, potatoes and a glass of wine or beer while sitting out on the patio dining al fresco watching the sunset.
My go-to Summer recipe is Coffee Marinated Steaks, which I know you’re gonna love. The marinade has a light smoky essence from the coffee (I use Gourmesso House Blend Lungo Dark coffee, an espresso alternative to Nepresso capsules, with a beautiful dark and rich flavor; some spicy heat from the red chilies and black peppercorns; a touch of sweetness from the brown sugar; and is balanced out with a slight tanginess from the balsamic vinegar, Dale’s seasoning/soy, mustard, shallots and garlic. You simply mix all the ingredients together in a blender or food processor, then marinade the steaks for an hour or up to overnight for some really delicious flavor.
Then simply pop them on the grill for about 8-10 minutes and you have the most juicy, flavorful and delicious steaks you’ve ever tasted in your life. Not to mention, a great idea for Father’s Day to spoil Dad! Click here to see more of my grilling ideas and recipes for Father’s Day.
My go-to Summer recipe is Gourmesso Coffee Marinated Steaks, which I know you’re gonna love. The marinade has a light smoky essence from the coffee (I use Gourmesso House Blend Lungo Dark coffee, which is an espresso (alternative to Nepresso capsules) that has a beautiful dark and rich flavor; some spicy heat from the red chilies and black peppercorns; a touch of sweetness from the brown sugar; and is balanced out with a slight tanginess from the balsamic vinegar, Dale’s seasoning/soy, mustard, shallots and garlic.
1 shallot, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup Gourmesso House Blend Lungo Dark coffee, room temp
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup Dijon mustard
1/8 cup low-sodium Dale’s seasoning (or dark soy sauce)
¼ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon red paprika
3 small red chilies
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns, crushed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Coarse Kosher salt
4 (12-14 ounce) boneless Strip steaks
In a food processor or blender, add the shallots, garlic, Gourmesso coffee, balsamic vinegar, Dale’s sauce/soy sauce, brown sugar, paprika, chilies, peppercorns, and olive oil and kosher salt and blend together well. Pour half the marinade in a glass dish or large plastic ziptop bag, add the steaks and toss to coat with the marinade. Seal and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to overnight. Cover the remaining marinade and set aside in the fridge until ready to grill.
Heat grill to medium-high and lightly oil the grill rack. Remove steak from marinade and discard the remaining marinade. Bring steaks to room temperature before grilling.
Season the steaks with salt and pepper and place on grill. Cook for 4-5 minutes per side for medium-rare (less or more according to desired doneness), basting occasionally with remaining marinade.
Transfer steak to a cutting board and let rest tented in foil for 5 minutes. Serve with grilled vegetables or a simple green salad dressed with vinaigrette and a glass of wine. Enjoy!
You can make the marinade up to a day ahead of time and store in the fridge with the steaks in a plastic bag or covered dish.
There’s nothing more comforting and heartwarming on a crazy cold day than braised short ribs with roasted veggies and mashed potatoes. Can we say heaven in a bowl?
These short ribs take a while to make but they’re worth the wait (I promise!) – I made them a little bit spicy with dried chile peppers,garlic and onions, fresh rosemary and thyme, and a chipotle infused olive oil (I love 7 Barrels brand!) along with a dash of cocoa powder (the super intense Dutch red kind made by Guittard is my fav). They’re braised in broth, a full bottle of red wine (you’re welcome), and topped with fresh parsley.
Once they’re done cooking they will be falling off the bone – then I made a reduced sauce with a knob of butter at the end to make it super silky and delicious. I served these with roasted brussels sprouts and cauliflower (simply roast them in olive oil and sea salt on 375 for about 45 minutes, tossing them every 15 minutes until crispy and delicious), but I recommend serving them with some creamymashed potatoes or egg noodles as well (or even some crusty French bread) to mop up that delicious spicy-savory-chocolate-chile-wine sauce. OMG.
Go ahead, indulge. You can always work it off tomorrow. Besides, a big bowl of comfort food and Netflix is more fun anyways 🙂
A classic Winter comfort food dish, these delicious braised short ribs are made with chile peppers, chocolate, red wine and lots of fresh garlic, onions and herbs. Super savory and tasty, served with roasted veggies, and either mashed potatoes or egg noodles.
2 large dried chile peppers, stemmed and deseeded
1 cup boiling water
5 1/2 pounds center cut short ribs, on the bone
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons chipotle olive oil (or regular EVOO if you prefer less spicy)
3 cups beef stock
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons Dutch red cocoa powder (Guittard)
4-5 cloves garlic, smashed
3 small onions, chopped
One bottle red wine (Pinot Noir or Merlot or Cab Sauv)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
A few sprigs of fresh herbs (rosemary and thyme)
Knob of unsalted butter (1-2 tablespoons)
Fresh parsley, chopped for garnish
Roasted cauliflower and brussels sprouts, for serving
Mashed potatoes or egg noodles, for serving
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Adjust rack to lower third.
Cover chopped chile peppers with boiling water and let sit, covered for about 20 minutes until soft.
Meanwhile, sprinkle short ribs on both sides generously with kosher salt and pepper and let rest to room temperature about 15 minutes while peppers are soaking.
Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat and cook short ribs in batches, searing evenly on both sides until golden brown crust forms (about 7 minutes per side/15 minutes per batch).
Once all short ribs are seared, place on a platter tented with foil and set aside.
In a blender or food processor, add the chiles, water, stock, tomato paste, cocoa, garlic, onions, and a little dash of salt and mix thoroughly together until smooth.
Pour the red wine in the Dutch oven and scrape the brown bits up from the bottom of the pan (deglazing the pan) and turn heat up to high bringing to a boil for 2-3 minutes, then reducing heat to a simmer, letting wine reduce by half (about 20 minutes).
Add the pureed chile-onion mixture, balsamic vinegar and fresh herbs to the pot and boil together for a few minutes. Return the short ribs to the pot, cover tightly with a lid and braise in the oven for about 2 1/2 hours until meat is tender and falls off the bone.
Place the ribs back on to a large platter and tent with foil to keep warm while making the sauce.
Put the Dutch oven on the stove and heat over medium-high for another 10 minutes or so until sauce thickens and reduces. Remove from heat and add a knob of butter into the sauce to make it extra silky and smooth.
Add the ribs back into the sauce and coat thoroughly. Serve on plates with sauce on top along side roasted veggies and mashed potatoes or egg noodles. Garnish with fresh parsley and additional salt and pepper to taste.
You can also substitute hard cider or a dark lager beer for the red wine.
So Old Man Winter is finally back in town, despite the crazy warm weather we’ve been having lately in New York City. Temperatures drop and there’s nothing better than a big pot of comfort food and a bottle of red to make a girl happy, right? Sometimes it’s the simple things in life that make everything OK…(*sigh). So I did just that this weekend, and made a huge batch of some classic Beef Bourguignon..you know, the classic French braised beef stew with veggies and red wine that Julia Child made famous.
I made it in a large 6-quart ceramic Dutch oven (KitchenAid brand is my fav!), and it’s chock full of savory deliciousness – sautéed pancetta, braised beef, shallots, garlic and carrots sautéed into a roux with some flour, flambeed brandy (my secret ingredient!), a whole bottle of red (yes, really!) and some beef stock, along with a bouquet garni of fresh herbs (1 bay leaf, 2 sprigs of fresh thyme, 3 sprigs of rosemary wrapped in cheesecloth) slow cooked in the oven for 2 hours.
The finishing touch of mushrooms and caramelized Cippolini onions sautéed in butter are added in at the end to add tons of buttery, savory flavor to the stew. YUM.
I don’t think I’ve ever tasted anything so delicious in my life – and I’m quite sure if Julia was still alive, I would make her damn proud, if I do say so myself.
It’s a flavor bomb in a bowl, my friends, and perfect for a lovely holiday dinner party for a crowd. Serve in big bowls garnished with fresh Italian parsley over mashed potatoes, polenta or egg noodles, of course accompanied with a bottle of red (Pinot Noir or Burgundy) and some crusty French bread to mop up the sauce. All around a big table of friends and family to partake in all the goodness.
This is a delicious heartwarming French Beef Stew made with beef chuck, red wine, brandy, fresh herbs, shallots, garlic, cippolini onions, carrots and pancetta. Perfect one-pot dish for Winter or the holidays!
5 pounds beef chuck, cut into medium-large cubes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound pancetta, diced
1/4 cup vegetable oil
5 large shallots, finely diced
3 large carrots, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, finely diced
1/4 cup brandy
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 bottle dry red wine (Pinot Noir or Burgundy)
4 cups beef or veal stock
1 bouquet garni (1 bay leaf, 2 sprigs thyme, 3 sprigs Italian parsley)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter (divided)
5-7 small to medium Cippolini onions, quartered
1 pound mushrooms, sliced (White button or Cremini)
Flat leaf Italian Parsley, minced, for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place beef in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and season with a couple teaspoons of Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Heat a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium-high heat for several minutes to get it hot.
Add pancetta and cook until crispy and browned, drain on paper towels and set aside.
Increase the heat to high and add the beef in to the pot in a single layer and brown on all sides, turning with tongs (be careful not to crowd or overfill the pot as you will need to cook beef in batches to get a nice browning).
Place the browned beef back on to the baking sheet and set aside.
Add the oil and diced shallots and carrots to the Dutch oven and cook for a few minutes. Lower the heat to medium-high and continue to saute until they begin to soften, about 10 minutes.
Add the brandy and flambe (light it in the pan with a long lighter or match) and let the flames keep going for as long as possible, until they go out to burn off alcohol.
Reduce heat to medium, add flour and stir together with the vegetables for a few minutes to make a roux base for the stew.
Next deglaze the pan by pouring in the red wine, a little bit at a time, stirring well to incorporate and remove any lumps, scraping the brown bits off the bottom of the pan (these babies are full of flavor!)
Add 3 3/4 cups of the stock, browned meat and bouquet garni and bring to a boil over high heat.
Remove pot from the heat, cover and cook the stew in the oven for 2 hours, until meat is fork tender. (The meat should shred/fall apart easily when you pierce it with a fork - if not, place it back in the oven for another 15-20 minutes).
While stew is cooking, caramelize the onions in a medium saute pan with 1 tablespoon of butter and salt and pepper, until the onions are lightly browned.
Add the remaining 1/4 cup stock and cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and glazed and liquid is evaporated.
Transfer onions to a bowl and set aside.
In the same pan, turn the heat up to high. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter, the mushrooms, salt and pepper to taste, sear over high heat until mushrooms are lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and mix into the caramelized onions, set aside.
Remove the stew from the oven and gently stir in cooked pancetta, mushrooms and onions. Adjust seasonings (salt and pepper to taste).
Serve the stew in bowls with a sprinkling of fresh parsley over mashed potatoes, polenta or egg noodles, with a glass of red and crusty bread to mop up the sauce of course!
Recipe adapted from Mother's Best Comfort Food Cookbook.
Fall is one of my favorite times of the year simply because it’s a time when the leaves are changing, the weather is getting cooler, and you have an excuse to stay inside to watch football with friends and family and gather around the table with some delicious party food!
Whenever I host a party, I like to create a smorgasbord of food that’s easy for people to grab. I love bite-sized finger foods and tapas-style spreads that are fun to make and eat. My idea for a great fall football party is Meatball Madness – an experiment with different types of meatballs paired with unique sauces, fillings and bases to eat them on.
For this post, I decided to make some Greek Beef Meatballs with Tzatzkiki Sauce served on toasted flatbreads,
and some Asian Chicken Meatballs with a Spicy Peanut Sauce served on Gem Lettuce Cups as thought starters for this party idea, but I’d love to hear from you what other themes, flavors and creative ideas you would incorporate when you throw your own Meatball Madness Party!
You can mix and match different themes with different fillings and flavors for the meatballs, for example – you could make Spanish Meatballs made with pork, chorizo and onions and create a Roasted Red Pepper Aioli to dip them in and serve on toasted pita. Or you could make traditional Italian Meatballs with Cheese and Tomato Sauce on mini slider buns topped with fresh basil and parsley. Or make German Meatballs with Bratwurst and Sauerkraut with a Grainy Mustard Sauce served on mini Rye breads – the possibilities are endless and super fun to come up with!
It’s finally Fall (Yay!) and football season is in full force which means fun tailgating and parties with friends mixed with lots of delicious football party food and drinks! My favorite time of year.
I’ve partnered with Mission Foods to create a delicious Game Day recipe for serving a crowd with their awesome flour tortillas, and I present to you my Beef Enchilada Tortilla Casserole.
It’s made with ground beef and taco seasoning, onions, garlic, corn, jalapeños, chopped tomatoes, beef broth and LOTS of cheese, all baked in layers of spicy, cheesy, ooey-gooey goodness with the flour tortillas in a 9-inch pie pan. Then it’s served cut into wedges and topped with some fresh green onions. You can also serve it with some sour cream and cilantro for extra garnish, if you like, on the side.
I love making casseroles and one-pot dishes in the Fall, and especially for parties with friends because they’re easy to make and easy to transport and serve, and they are usually a huge hit on the food table! This one will disappear fast so you might want to double the recipe for a big crowd – trust me!
I’m also hosting a giveaway for my readers to win 2 packs of Mission Foods Tortillas – all you need to do is leave a comment and your email below telling me how you would use the tortillas to make a delicious recipe for your Fall Football party! A winner will be chosen at random.
Hope you enjoy my super yum recipe and enter for a chance to win tortillas to make your party more delicious and fun too!
This Beef Enchilada Tortilla Casserole is a super easy and tasty dish to make for Football season! Made with Mission Foods flour tortillas, all layered with a spicy enchilada beef, mixed with onions, garlic, corn, tomatoes, broth and jalapeño and lots of cheese in the layers and on top! Garnished with scallions, sour cream and cilantro if desired...and DIG IN!
1 pound ground beef
1/2 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup beef broth
1/2 packet taco seasoning
1 cup petite diced tomatoes and juice (or 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce)
1 cup frozen corn
1 jalapeno, chopped
4 large Mission Foods flour tortillas
1 6-ounce package shredded Mexican Blend cheese (Colby, Monterey Jack and Cheddar)
1-2 scallions, sliced, for garnish
1/2 cup sour cream, for garnish (optional)
2-3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped, for garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground beef and onion to pan and cook for about 5-6 minutes until browned and crumbled.
In a separate medium saucepan, melt the butter and sauce the garlic for 1 minute until lightly golden, sprinkle with flour and stir, cooking for 30 seconds.
Add broth, taco seasoning, tomatoes, corn and jalapeños to the saucepan and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.
Add 1 1/2 cups of the tomato-corn-jalapeno mixture to the cooked ground beef and onions in the large saute pan, mixing together and reserving the rest for the top layer of the casserole.
In a 9-inch pie plate, place 1 tortilla on the bottom. Top with 1 cup of the beef mixture, and sprinkle with a layer of the shredded cheese. Repeat layers 2 more times, ending with the 4th tortilla on top.
Spread the reserved tomato mixture over the tortilla and top with the rest of the shredded cheese.
Bake at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes until cheese is melted and golden.
Let cool slightly, then cut into wedges and serve with sliced green onions, and sour cream and cilantro (if desired).
You can also substitute ground turkey or chicken for the ground beef.
For a large crowd, I suggest doubling the recipe to make two casseroles as this one will disappear fast!
It’s summer and OH. SO. HOT. And I honestly haven’t really been in the mood to cook or do anything lately except lie down in the AC or chill on the beach – but a girl’s gotta eat, right?
I’ve also been a bit blue because my Dad is in the hospital and having double bypass heart surgery on Monday morning which is a bit scary..and too much to deal with.
So I decided I needed a dose of some comfort food this weekend to cheer me up and bring me a little closer to home with Dad. 🙂
I had a few samples of RedPack petite diced tomatoes on hand and thought they would be perfect for a comforting baked pasta dish – something that reminded me of what Mom used to make for us for dinner.
So I whipped up a Cheesy Skillet Beef Goulash – made with ground beef, tomatoes, onion, garlic, elbow macaroni and three cheeses – all cooked together in one skillet, then baked into a pot of bubbly, cheesy goodness.
Super simple to make and definitely comforting at that. I think I’ll get through the weekend and Dad’s surgery just fine…after I have some of this deliciousness..and maybe a nap in the A/C. 🙂
Sloppy Joes have gotten a bad rap in history over the years, haven’t they? When I think of Sloppy Joes I usually revert to some bad memories of the hair-netted lunch ladies in frocks serving them up on plastic trays in the cafeteria along with a side of some mushy peas and corn with a dried up chocolate chip cookie, along with the scary smells that came out of the school kitchen back in those days.
I had some extra ground beef in the freezer and wanted to make something different. Not another burger. Or meatloaf. Or batch of spaghetti and meatballs. But something I haven’t had in a loooonnnggg time, and Sloppy Joes fit the bill. But how could I remake this old-fashioned simple sandwich a bit tastier and appealing without looking like a big plate of mush?
I was determined to take these elementary school BBQ sammies to the next level by kicking them up a notch in heat level. I added some sliced jalapeños and Sriracha and some hot pepper sauce to the mix to give it some nice spiciness, but kept the caramel sweet undertones by mixing some honey into the brown sugar, and used Cabernet vinegar and shallots which are also a bit sweeter than traditional onion and help balance out the spicy heat a bit more.
The result was a perfectly sweet and spicy sauce mixed with the ground beef and peppers and jalapeños in every bite. Served on a buttered toasted bun, with a side of pickles and chips. YUM. What would have been even better is some melted cheese on the buns, which I highly recommend. So don’t be afraid of that old school cafeteria food – if you make it yourself and give it a little twist, it’s actually quite spectacular. And devilishydelicious.
Classic Greek Moussaka is one of the most popular Greek dishes, and a staple “comfort food” and main course meal in Greece (as Lasagna is in Italy). This tasty Greek dish is a culinary delight to those who sample it for the first time, and I experienced it when I went on a trip to the Greek Islands a few years ago for my birthday.
Some friends and I were in Santorini, a beautiful island in Greece in the Aegean Sea with pastel colors and gorgeous views, eating at a restaurant in Oia called Pelekanos, nestled up in the hills overlooking the sea.
The sun was setting, the relaxing music was playing softly in the background and the atmosphere was just perfect. The waiters graciously came over and attended to our every need, and made our dinner a spectacular night with their attention to detail not only in the food and wine, but our dining experience overall.
The table was elegantly set, with fine china, white tablecloths, crystal glasses and silverware with beautiful flowers as a centerpiece. The waiters filled our glasses with water and wine, lit the candles on the table and gave us recommendations of the specials and enlightened us on some of their popular Greek dishes on the menu.
As we joyously dined, they quickly cleared our plates when we were finished eating, filled our glasses when they were half full, and stood by the table a few feet away with a watchful, attentive eye, to let us know they were on stand by for service, but just far enough away to not be obtrusive on our dining experience.
They always had a smile on their faces and let us stay at the table long enough to enjoy our dinner, engage in great conversation, take photos of our food and engage in the gorgeous bright red sunset that was going down over the ocean as we sat and viewed it in awe. I felt like I was sitting in a little piece of heaven up there and never wanted to leave.
One of the most delicious dishes I ever tasted was the Moussaka, which I ordered that night. It was a perfect mixture of spicy meat at the bottom, layered with potatoes and tender eggplant, and tons of béchamel and gooey cheese on top. The vegetables were steaming as I dug into this gorgeous meat and vegetable pie – my mouth watered at the sight and smell of it. I became so obsessed with this luscious Greek dish that I decided I needed to make it for my big Greek birthday party when I got home from vacation.
Moussaka can be made in many variations, but the classic recipe uses layers of eggplant, potatoes, a spicy meat and tomato sauce with a touch of cinnamon and a rich and delicious béchamel sauce and bubbly kefalotyri cheese on top. Other variations are Moussaka with zucchini or artichokes instead of eggplant, ground lamb instead of ground beef, or vegetarian-style with zucchini, eggplant and potatoes without the meat. Either way you make it, with its warm and rich flavors and gooey cheese you’ll be hooked.
I made this recipe with zucchini and potatoes, and combined ground lamb with ground beef together. The combination of all the spices from the meat and seasonings soak into the vegetables and once you layer some creamy béchamel and gooey cheese on top, you’ve got yourself a delicious heartwarming dish. Be careful to pat dry the vegetables though before layering in the baking dish, as you don’t want the liquids to make the Moussaka too watery as they are cooked down in the oven.
You’ll need a lot of time and kitchen space to make this dish, and if you’re cooking for a crowd, you’ll be safe to double the recipe and make two large rectangular baking dishes of it, as it won’t last long. The flavors in this dish really improve if you make it a day ahead. It’s also a very filling dish, so you may want to serve it as the main course, and accompany it with a Greek Salad, some Stuffed Grape Leaves and Tzaziki for a light side dish along with some Garlic Lemon Hummus and grilled pita. Serve with a red Greek wine and a shot of Ouzo as an aperitif.
Cut the zucchini/eggplant and potatoes into slices about 1/2 inch thick. If using eggplant instead of zucchini, peel the eggplant first. Brown the vegetables quickly in 1/4 cup of the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes until lightly golden brown, transfer to paper towels to drain and set aside.
Heat the remaining ¼ cup of oil in the same skillet and cook the onions until they are?golden brown. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the ground meat, tomato paste, cinnamon, cayenne, and cook for another 8-10 minutes. Pour off excess fat through a strainer and return meat mixture to the pan. Then add the wine, cooking until almost completely evaporated, about 5 minutes.
Add the tomato puree to the meat mixture and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer over low heat;?stirring frequently, until all the liquid has been absorbed, about 30 minutes. Stir in the parsley and oregano and season with salt and pepper. Remove the?mixture from heat.
Make the Bechamel Sauce:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and heat a medium saucepan over medium heat.
Make the white sauce by melting the butter?and blending in the flour, stirring with a wire whisk until smooth. Meanwhile, bring the milk to a boil and add it gradually to the butter-flour mixture,? stirring constantly. When the mixture is thickened and smooth, remove ?it from the heat. Cook slightly and stir in the beaten eggs, nutmeg, lemon zest and ricotta.
Assemble the casserole:
Grease an 11x16-inch baking dish or casserole dish and sprinkle the bottom lightly with?breadcrumbs.
Arrange alternate layers of the zucchini/eggplant and potatoes and meat sauce?in the pan, sprinkling each layer with Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs.
Pour the bechamel sauce over the top and sprinkle some additional Parmesan cheese on top. Bake 1 hour, or until top is golden.
Remove from the oven and cool 20 to 30 minutes before serving.
Top with additional chopped fresh parsley. Cut into squares and serve.
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