For weeks, Justin has been telling me to check out the Farmer’s Market in Grant Park, which is like 10 minutes from my house. It’s only around on Fridays in the summer, and Friday is my least favorite day to shop for food since I usually cook for Shabbos on Wednesday and Thursday. But I finally decided to give it a shot, partially to see what kind of fruits and vegetables I could find AND to get Justin off my case. Now, as someone born and raised in Seattle, my farmer’s market expectation are set pretty high with Pike Place Market. I have yet to find a better fresh produce market! Needless to say, I was royally disappointed by the variety in Grant Park (there was actually no fruit at all) but I did find a few unique items. I picked up some Swiss chard, which I have never cooked with or eaten before, and some beets, which I will be blogging about later this week. The chard, a leafy vegetable similar to spinach, has a faster shelf life in the fridge, so I figured I would try it out first. I searched through tons of recipes but was not inspired at all until I came across a recipe for moussaka that contained Swiss chard. I had been meaning to make this delicious Greek eggplant dish for a while and now was my chance! And as it turned out, I already had most of the ingredients in my house. Could it have worked out any better?!? Just wait until you try out this recipe! You will be licking your plate until there is nothing left. Trust me. Just take some pills for the dairy first.
Swiss Chard Moussaka Ingredients
this recipe is adapted from Food Network Magazine
3 large eggplants
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 large bunch Swiss chard, stems trimmed and leaves chopped
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 bay leaves
2 Tbsp dry breadcrumbs
1 medium all-purpose potato, peeled and thinly sliced
salt and pepper to taste
6 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup flour
5 cups whole milk, at room temperature
pinch of nutmeg
1/2 cup grated parmesan mixed with 1 cup crumbled feta
2 large eggs plus 3 egg yolks
salt and pepper to taste
Seems like a lot of ingredients but most just go in to a pot together. So let’s get started! I was really excited to learn how to cook eggplant before adding it to a recipe, since I usually just throw it in there and it ends up crunchy and bitter. So I trimmed the eggplants and cut lengthwise in to 1/2-inch slices. I arranged them on two large baking sheets, brushed with 1/2 cup olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. I baked for 30 minutes at 450 degrees. The result was delicious roasted eggplant that could be eaten on it’s own.
As I cooked and stirred the chard, it was so cool to watch it wilt and get smaller and smaller. It’s amazing how that happens! I transferred the wilted chard to a colander, let cool, then squeezed out the excess moisture and set it aside. I wiped the same pot dry, added the butter over medium-high heat and added the chopped onion. After 4 minutes, the onion was golden brown so I added the garlic and cooked for 1 more minute.
I then added the oregano, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper. At this point, you can also add 1 pound of ground lamb or beef and slightly brown it for 2 minutes. This would make the moussaka more authentic but I didn’t use meat because I keep Kosher and do not mix dairy and meat.
Anyways, I added the wine and cooked for 1 more minute. Then I added the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce and bay leaves. I covered the pot and simmered for 30 minutes.
While the sauce was still cooking, I made the deliciously rich cheese sauce. I can’t believe how much fat can be added to one pan! Yum! I melted the butter over medium heat. I then whisked in the flour, cooking slightly to form a soft paste. This happened very quickly.
I took the pot off the heat and whisked in the milk, nutmeg and 2 tsp of salt. I returned to the heat and continuously whisked while bringing the mixture to a boil. As I whisked the mixture (actually, Justin did some of the whisking), it thickened up slowly.
I removed the pan again and stirred in 1 cup of the cheese mixture. I then tempered the eggs by adding a small amount of the cheese sauce to the eggs before adding them in to the pan. This way, the eggs would be closer to the temperature of the sauce and would not cook in to a scramble.
I sprinkled the remaining cheese on top and baked the moussaka uncovered for an 1 1/2 hours, until the cheese sauce was set and lightly brown. Just a little warning: the dish will be very heavy so be careful when placing it in the oven. I might even suggest placing the dish on a baking sheet for easier mobility. You don’t want the cheese sauce spilling everywhere. That wouldn’t be fun to clean up!
Once the moussaka was ready, I took it out of the oven and let it sit on the counter for 20 minutes (okay, maybe I got a little impatient and waited 10 minutes instead) then served it to Justin and my sister-in-law, Erica. She happens to be a vegetarian so I invite her over every time I make something dairy for Kitchen Tested. Plus, she is pretty much the female version of Justin so it’s fun to have her around. Back to the food…it came out delicious! I will admit that it did not cut in to perfect squares like I have seen on TV (specifically Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives), but the taste was authentic.
The potatoes and eggplant added a creamy texture while the Swiss chard added some necessary crunch to the dish. I think I am going to use Swiss chard instead of spinach whenever I can. It was seriously delicious. We were literally licking our plates!