Things have been pretty hectic for me lately with the Page program, but this week my schedule is beginning to slow down again which is giving me more time to catch up on posts. Yay! I was pretty nervous before I started the program two weeks ago, so I decided to make one of my favorite comfort foods, which is mousaka. Mousaka is kind of like a Greek lasagna, which is traditionally made with layered eggplants, potatoes, ground lamb and cream sauce, and baked in the oven. For this version, however, I decided to use butternut squash and sweet potatoes to really emphasize the creaminess of the dish and give it a bit of a mildly sweet flavor to, you know, make it extra-comforting. So I put this dish together, not entirely sure of whether it would work out or not. In the end, of course, it came out wonderfully, otherwise I wouldn’t be posting it here to share with you all. Yes, there are recipes and photos that have been locked away in the archives because they failed, miserably. Like my feta cheese attempt, but we will not go into that now… Ahem. Anyway, the sage went suuuper well with the butter and squash and sweet potatoes and nice rich lamb meat. Something about the fat in lamb just tastes particularly wonderful. I know it’s not all that good for you, but I feel that if I make up for it by adding healthy vegetables to a dish, a little meat fat won’t do me too much harm.

Mmmmmmm lamb.

Enjoy!

Mousaka with Butternut Squash and Sweet Potatoes

Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 50 minutes
Cooling Time 15 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Author Eva Kosmas Flores

Ingredients

Mousaka

  • 1 lb Ground Lamb
  • 1/2 of a Butternut Squash
  • 2 Sweet Potatoes
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic minces
  • 1 Medium Yellow Onion diced
  • 1/2 Cup Grated Mizithra or Romano Cheese
  • 1/3 Cup Butter
  • 3 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
  • 3 Tablespoons Water
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Pepper
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Rubbed Sage
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Cinnamon

Bechamel Sauce

  • 3 Egg Yolks whisked
  • 3 Cups Whole Milk
  • 1/3 Cup Butter
  • 1/2 Cup Cornstarch
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Nutmeg
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt

Instructions

  1. Peel the butternut squash and sweet potatoes and cut them into 1/4 inch thick slices. Sprinkle some salt on each side of the slices and set them aside on a plate.
  2. Mix the ground lamb and the minced garlic together in a large frying pan over medium heat for about 5 minutes, breaking apart the meat with a large spoon or spatula as it cooks. Add the onions, butter, tomato and 1/4 teaspoon of the ground sage and mix well. Continue to cook for about 10 minutes, or until the lamb is browned all over. Add the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper and cinnamon. Mix well, lower the heat, and allow to simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, rinse the salt off of the sweet potato and squash slices and heat the tablespoon of olive oil in a wide and shallow pan. Cook each side of the sliced vegetables slightly, frying for about 3 minutes on each side. Set them aside on a plate.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. To make the bechamel sauce, melt the butter in a medium sized pan over low heat. Add the cornstarch to the butter and mix well until it forms a paste. Add the milk, 1/2 cup at a time, blending well after each addition. Stir in the seasonings and allow to cook uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes. Place the whisked egg yolks in a small bowl and add 1/2 cup of the bechamel sauce to the bowl, whisking constantly. Add another 1/2 cup of the bechamel sauce to the bowl and mix well. Pour the egg yolk mixture back into the pan and whisk until completely blended. Raise the heat to medium and continue cooking for about 5 to 10 minutes or until the sauce thickens to a gravy-like consistency, stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the heat and set it aside.
  5. Once the lamb is done simmering and all of the vegetable slices have been browned, you can begin layering them in a large and well-greased casserole pan measuring about 9 x 13 inches. First sprinkle some of the grated cheese on the bottom of the pan as well as a little bit of pepper and some ground sage. Then create a single layer of butternut squash slices and sprinkle more cheese and ground sage on top. Then create a single layer of sweet potatoes and do the same. Repeat this process one more time so you have 2 alternating layers of butternut squash and sweet potatoes. Pour the lamb mixture over the vegetable layers, then create another layer of butternut squash and more grated cheese and ground sage, and another layer of sweet potatoes and more grated cheese and ground sage. Pour the bechamel sauce over the final sweet potatoes layer and sprinkle more cheese on top. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the top of the bechamel sauce begins to brown. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before serving.
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