I just read a very interesting article in the New York Times titled "Mom Puts Family on Her Mealplan" by Leslie Kaufman. Seriously, you should read it. But to give you a brief synopsis - it is her take on being a mother and cooking for your children. With the 'modern woman' often having to juggle between work and household demands, it is often easy to find a "simple" solution for dinner versus cooking a real meal for your family. Leslie decided early on in motherhood that although she may be able to delegate other tasks to non-immediate family members, she would remain the primary nutritionist. (She also gives very useful tips if you are in that "cook for children" stage of your life - I am not)
This article really got me thinking about my upbringing. I joke that my mother has hippy roots (which she does), but I think she also really understood the importance of nutrition and had a real love for food. Its funny how when you grow up experiencing things as a part of everyday life you do not stop and think that what might be considered "normal" to you may be the farthest thing from normal in another persons life.
Examples: We never ate fastfood, never drank soda, ate home cooked meals at least 6 nights out of the week, "mixes" were like a foreign language, my mom had her own garden and frequently preserved various jams and pickles and she also made home made bread to the delight of me and my sisters.
However, after learning more about my friends and their childhoods (not bad, just different), I realized that things I took for granted were not things that "normal" children experienced.
But I digress. This recipe was something that my mom made often. It is really stuffed eggplant, but she always called it Moussaka. Although, it does have the same basic ingredients as Moussaka, it is definitely different. One major discrepancy is its lack of bechemel sauce. Either way, it is very tasty and a great recipe to have in repertoire (its also pretty healthy). I made a few minor changes to my mom's recipe, but the basics are the same:
2 large eggplants
4 servings cooked rice
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 pint mushrooms, sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
salt and pepper
1 pound ground meat (I used lean turkey)
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) Drizzle olive oil in a large saute pan. Add garlic to pan and cook for a few minutes over medium heat. Add ground meat and break up into smaller pieces. Salt and pepper.
3) Half eggplants lengthwise and scoop out insides. Put the skins on a greased cookie sheet. Roughly chop eggplant.
3) When meat is cooked, drain fat from pan and add the chopped eggplant and mushrooms. Salt and pepper. Add rice and mix together. I also added a shake or two of creole seasoning.
4) Spoon cooked mixture into eggplant shells and top with tomato sauce and crumbled feta. Warning: This will not look very appetizing at this point, no worries though.
5) Cook for about an hour.
This was a perfect pre-vacation dinner. It turned out very well and the feta really added an extra layer of flavor. I really like this meal because it contains all food groups in a convenient eggplant shell package :) We ate up and then hit the road.