Imagine a 10 month old, two grandparents and 2 harried parents on a 11 hour flight to Greece. Now imagine your flight was delayed 12 hours. That was the beginning of our trip to Greece last Summer. All stresses aside it was an amazing vacation full of wonderful food, great views and the sweetest wedding. The food was spectacular, fresh and flavourful with lots of herbs, lemon and olive oil. Truthfully, I was not expecting to fall in love with Greece, but I did and will return as soon as my child gets older and we have forgotten the memory of those flights. We ate extreme amounts of souvlaki, saganaki, horiatiki and moussaka. Moussaka is a cinnamon spiced layered dish of eggplant and ground lamb ragu topped with a creamy bechamel - all baked in the oven to create the perfect greek comfort food. Bechamel is definetly not allowed on the whole30, so I made a riff on my experience with involtini in Italy and my experience of the flavours of Greece.
1 large eggplant, cut lengthwise into 1/4 inch slices
2 lbs lean ground lamb
1 white onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, smushed and finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil + drizzle
1 tsp oregano, dried
2 tsp cinnamon, ground
1/2 tsp clove, ground
1/2 tsp allspice, ground
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp mint, fresh
2 tsp tomato paste
2 cups tomato passata, crushed tomato
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 cup stock, lamb or beef
Preheat oven to 350F. Place sliced eggplant on rimmed baking sheet, sprinkle with salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Cook for 25 minutes, until softened, flip halfway through.
While eggplant is cooking, heat 2 tbsp olive oil in saucepan. Add onions and cook until translucent, add garlic, oregano, cinnamon, clove, allspice, bay leaf and mint. Add ground lamb and cook until browned. Once browned, add tomato paste and combine with meat. Deglaze pan with tomato passata and stock. Let simmer until liquid reduced to half.
To put together the involtini - use an oven proof pan and cover bottom with thin layer of lamb sauce. Carefully remove eggplant from sheet - place 2 tbsp lamb sauce in the middle of eggplant slice, roll the top and bottom of the slice to create a roll (see photo above). Do this with all of the eggplant. Cover involtini with lamb sauce and bake in oven for 25 minutes.
note: this would be great as a more traditional moussaka - if you want to layer the eggplant instead, make 3 eggplants instead, there should be enough sauce.
breakfast: eggs, moussake involtini lunch: chicken, squash soup, watermelon, pistachios