Greek Moussaka

Eggplant is actually an oversized berry which was first cultivated in China in the sixth century. The glossy purple eggplant skin contains "nasuin," a potent antioxidant, so use eggplant unpeeled. It is an edible member of the nightshade family—as long as it is cooked. Raw eggplant contains "solamine," a toxin which is destroyed by cooking. Look for plump fruit.

Meat Sauce

    1 tablespoon olive oil
    2 cups chopped yellow onion
    2 garlic cloves, crushed in a garlic press
    2 pounds lean ground beef
    2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
    3 tablespoons tomato paste
    ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
    1 teaspoon seasoning salt
    ½ cup hot water
    2 teaspoons beef base
    1 (14 ½-ounce) can Italian-style tomatoes, undrained
    16 saltine crackers, crushed in a bag with a rolling pin
    ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Béchamel or White Sauce

    6 tablespoons butter
    6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    2 cups whole milk
    3 large egg yolks



    1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
    Pinch ground nutmeg
    Sprinkle dried parsley

    1 medium sized eggplant, unpeeled

1.  Prepare eggplant: Cut eggplant into thin rounds, sprinkle
     with salt. Lay in a colander and leave in sink to drain
     for 1 hour. This helps to draw out the moisture and draws out
     some of the bitter juices.

2.  Preheat the oven to 350

3.  Meat sauce: In a 5-quart nonstick sauté pan, heat oil and
     cook onion until translucent. Add garlic and brown the beef.
     Stir in the parsley, tomato paste, pepper, salt, water, beef base
     and tomatoes. Simmer for 30 minutes.

4.  Add the crackers and nutmeg to the meat sauce. Remove the
     meat from the pan and place it in a small bowl.

5.  Béchamel sauce: In the same pan, melt the butter and add
     the flour. Whisk in all the milk at once and cook until
     thickened. Remove from heat, then whisk in the egg yolks.
6.  Assemble casserole: In a 4-quart casserole, layer the
     eggplant, meat sauce and white sauce twice.

7.  Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour.

     Eggplant: In today's global market, eggplant is available
     year-round. There is no need to peel an eggplant before
     cooking. One type of eggplant may not necessarily be
     substituted for another as they do vary in flavor. Look for the
     larger pear shaped purple eggplant for this dish.

     Makes 4 servings