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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Baked Eggplant and Spinach Moussaka, a Vegetarian Creation by Christine Datian

As you might recall, Christine Datian often has her recipes published on The Armenian Kitchen website, and in other online publications such as the Armenian Mirror Spectator, Sunset and Cooking Light magazines, and the Fresno Bee Flavors Magazine.

She sent me her latest creation which features eggplant, and since that’s been a ‘hot ingredient’ around here lately, I’m happy to pass this recipe along to you.

Vegetable Moussaka (Image from www.epicureous.com)
As of this posting, this dish has not been tested in our kitchen. Since a photo did not accompany her recipe, I found a suitable image from www.epicureous.com. 

Without further ado, I present Christine Datian’s …

Baked Eggplant and Spinach Moussaka
Yields 9 generous, or 12 smaller portions

2 cups shredded or grated Parmesan, Jack, Mozzarella or mizithra cheese (or a combination)
2-3 eggs, beaten
Chopped flat-leaf parsley and mint, about 1/4 cup each
1 teaspoon sea salt or Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black or white pepper
1 teaspoon dried crushed oregano
1/2 teaspoon each crushed red pepper flakes and paprika
1/4 teaspoon allspice (or cinnamon)
2 medium onions or shallots, finely chopped
1 green or red bell pepper or 2 Anaheim peppers, seeded and diced
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped or minced
2 cups low sodium tomato sauce, marinara sauce, or tomato puree
2 medium eggplants, washed, sliced about ¼” thick
3-4 cups fresh baby spinach (or kale), cleaned and chopped
2 medium tomatoes, sliced thinly
Olive oil and unsalted butter
2 tablespoons each chopped walnuts and pine nuts
Garnishes: Greek yogurt, lebne, or ricotta cheese                 
                   Lemon zest and juice of one large lemon


Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
 1.      In a medium bowl, combine the 2 cups of cheese with the beaten eggs, parsley, mint, salt, pepper, oregano, red pepper flakes, paprika and allspice (or cinnamon, if using); mix and set aside.
2.      Sauté the onions, garlic, and bell pepper in a few tablespoons of olive oil until the onions are translucent, about 6-8 minutes.  
3.      Spread about a half cup of the tomato sauce on the bottom of a buttered or oiled 9 X 13 baking dish.
4. Arrange the eggplant slices on top of the sauce, cutting slices if necessary to fit spacing; repeat and alternate in layers with the chopped spinach, sliced tomatoes, sautéed onion mixture, the eggplant, and the remaining tomato sauce for all the eggplant slices. 
 5.      Pour the cheese and beaten egg mixture evenly over the top of the moussaka, and spread with a knife; drizzle with a little olive oil and top with some chopped walnuts and pine nuts.  Add a few dabs of butter on the top of the moussaka, if desired.
6.      Bake, uncovered, until the eggplant is tender, for about one hour.  Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before cutting into squares.  Serve the moussaka warm or cold, topped with a dollop of Greek yogurt, lebne, or ricotta cheese; sprinkle with fresh lemon juice and lemon zest as garnish.

*For the non-vegetarian, traditional version of this moussaka, brown 1/2 pound of ground lamb (or ground beef) in a tablespoon or two of unsalted butter, drain completely, and alternate the lamb in with the layers of eggplant and vegetables, etc.
 *You can make assorted sandwiches for lunch, dinner or picnics with leftover moussaka on Italian, sourdough, pita bread, lavash, or flat bread, and serve with roasted peppers, sliced cheeses, pickles, tomatoes, onions, and lettuce, etc.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Grilled Eggplant and Tomato Stacks

You might have noticed an increased number of eggplant recipes on The Armenian Kitchen recently. Well, that's due to the thrilling news that my husband is not allergic to it! Here's a recipe similar to one I sampled recently that just tickled my taste buds. I hope you'll like it, too! 
Grilled Eggplant and Tomato Stacks

Grilled Eggplant and Tomato Stacks

Yields 12 stacks

These stacks make a delightful appetizer, side dish, or even a main dish!

 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice  
 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil  
 1 tsp. za’atar (plus more for garnish)  
 1 clove garlic, finely minced
 1/4 tsp. kosher salt (or to taste)  
 1/8 tsp black pepper, freshly ground (or to taste)  
 **1 medium eggplant, trimmed, sliced into 12 - 1/2-inch rounds  
  **2 medium to large fresh tomatoes, ends trimmed, cut into 4 slices each  
 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese  
**Note: The eggplant and tomato diameters should be similar in size for an attractive appearance.

1. Preheat grill or grill pan to medium-high. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine lemon juice, olive oil, za’atar, garlic, salt and pepper; set aside for flavors to blend. Note: If using a grill pan, be sure not to crowd the pan. Cook the eggplant in batches.
2. Lightly brush both sides of the eggplant slices with seasoned lemon-olive oil mixture; sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Grilling eggplant slices in batches

3. Grill eggplant until lightly charred and tender, turning as needed, about 4 minutes on each side.
4. After the second sides of the eggplant slices are cooked, top each with 1 tomato slice. Brush the top of each tomato slice with the remaining lemon juice mixture and top with 1 tablespoon of crumbled feta. Cover grill or grill pan and cook until tomato and feta soften slightly, about 1 or 2 minutes.
5. Arrange on a serving platter and garnish with addition za’atar, if desired.

Serve immediately.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Grapes with Yogurt and Honey

It’s official … the grape harvest has been blessed in traditional form in Armenian churches around the globe. So it’s time to appreciate this sweet fruit of the vine.
Grape Blessing at St. David Armenian Church, Boca Raton, FL (Photos by Anna-Lusi Simonyan)
In addition to eating grapes as they come naturally, there are numerous ways to use grapes in recipes - cakes, compotes, candies, jams, salads - you name it!

Click here for another grape recipe previously posted on The Armenian Kitchen.

Or you can skip the fuss and make this really easy grape dessert for family, guests, or just for yourself!

Grapes with Yogurt and Honey
Grapes with Yogurt and Honey
Makes about 4 servings

1 large bunch seedless red or green grapes (or a combination of the two)
1 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons honey (light-brown sugar may be substituted)
Cinnamon for garnish, optional

1. Remove from stems from grapes and discard. (Only use firm, unblemished grapes.) Wash grapes and pat dry. Grapes can be left whole if they're on the smaller side. However, if using large grapes, you may want to slice them in half first. Place in a bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve. 
2. In a small bowl, whisk together yogurt and honey.
3. Place grapes in individual serving bowls. Place a dollop of yogurt-honey mixture over grapes. Garnish with a sprinkle of cinnamon, if you wish – and enjoy!