I am sure at least some of you are wondering why the heck I didn’t just make moussaka. I'll get back to that in a minute. First I wanted to share with you one of those unique moments of motherhood.
Those of you who have (or have had) young children know that many earnest conversations take place in the bathroom. Little ones rarely answer important questions if posed directly, but they somehow seem to reveal a lot of essential information in the most unexpected moments. We had one of those mother-daughter moments just last night.
My daughter: “Mommy, when we grow up we leave to go and look for a husband, right?”
Me: “…” (quick mental note to self: never ever let daughter watch another princess movie).
My daughter (misunderstanding my snort of laughter): “no, I mean, not go all around the world. I mean in the city we live. I’m scared, I don’t want to go”.
Me: “Sweetie, first of all your husband could be from anywhere in the world. Secondly, there are a lot of things you will do when you grow up. You will study something you are passionate about and hopefully find a calling or a job you will love and that will fulfill you. You will travel and meet lots of people and make many friends. And maybe on one of those trips or when you are having fun with your friends you will meet the person you will fall in love with. And then maybe you'll get married, or maybe you won't. You certainly don’t have to. But when it is the right time it will happen, you won’t look for it” I sentenced, proud of my women's lib talk.
My daughter: “But I want to get married. Voglio cercare marito (I want to look for a husband. I just had to leave it in Italian for those who could appreciate the choice of words of my five year old, so quaint and old fashioned, something out of a nineteenth century novel)”.
Me: “Well then you should (get married I mean). Love will find you when the time is right”.
How did I get from trying to convince my daughter to eat her vegetables to trying to dissuade her from becoming a wife as her sole reason of adulthood in a matter of a few days?
Which leads me back to where I started. Why did I make a moussaka inspired lasagna instead of a moussaka?
Simple: I had some fresh packaged lasagna that needed using up, two large eggplants that I didn’t know how to convince my kids to eat and a jar of ragù sitting in my fridge. If you decide to make it from scratch, you could use lamb for your ragù, but I had beef ragù. And since my ragù was the Italian kind, lacking those flavors so unique to Greek moussaka, I made a cinnamon flavored béchamel sauce.
I am aware that eggplant (aubergine for many of you) is no longer in season in this part of the world. I made this a few weeks ago when it still was. I decided to post this recipe because so many of my readers are in the other hemisphere. You Australians, New Zealanders, Chileans and so forth and so on must be sick and tired of reading recipes for stews and gingerbread when you are getting ready to pull out your flipflops and head to the beach. So this is for you, although I have to admit that lasagna isn’t exactly beach fare.
It served its purpose at my house. The roasted eggplant puree was perfectly nestled between the béchamel sauce and the ragù and although adult taste buds can easily detect the smoky flavor, my children didn’t and gobbled it up. After they swallowed the last bite, I of course informed them of what they had so much enjoyed, as I always do when I have to resort to this method. They giggled.
lasagna (fresh or dried)
1 medium jar ragù
2 large eggplants
grated Parmesan cheese
cinnamon to taste
Cut the eggplant in half, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in a 220°C oven until golden and soft. Take out, let cool and then blend with a little more olive oil. When making the bechamel, stir in as cinnamon to taste keeping in mind the flavor shouldn't be too overpowering. Layer the lasagna, the ragù, the eggplant and the bechamel sauce until you have used up the lasagna. I like mine high so I made about 8/10 layers. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese before each new layer. Cook in the oven for about 30 minutes at 200°C.