I must be in the mood for Greek lately.  This is so good I just bought all the ingredients again! Isn't that the case though...going through seasons of cravings?  Or, am I the only one?  I am so grateful that I'm actually starting to crave fruits and vegetables again...the tell tale sign of spring for me.  However, one vegetable that I can eat year-round is eggplant much to my husband's chagrin;-) Hey, I've won him over on spinach, and he likes this dish so I'm on my way to another eggplant convert.

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Moussaka (a blend of 2 recipes from: The Book of Greek Cooking by Lesley Mackley &  food network magazine, March 2009)

2 large eggplant
1/2 cup olive oil, plus two more for the pan
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 lb ground sirloin (or lamb)
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
14.5-ounce can  diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste

For the Cheese Custard
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
5 cups milk, at room temperature
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Kosher Salt
8 oz of Kasseri or Kefalotiri cheese, grated
4 eggs, beaten

1) Cut eggplant into 1/4 inch slices, place in several layers in a colander lightly salting each layer.  Allow eggplant to sweat out it's bitter juices for 30 to 45 minutes.  Press down to squeeze out water, and pat dry with paper towel.
2) Preheat oven to 450.  Arrange eggplant on two baking sheets brushed with oil; brush generously with remaining 1/2 cup olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Bake until soft about 20 minutes.
3) Heat two tablespoons of olive oil to a pan, and add onion and garlic.  Saute for 3 minutes or until soft.  Add beef and cook until no longer pink, add oregano, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Blend well. Next, add diced tomato with juices and tomato paste and simmer for 15 minutes.
4) As the sauce simmers make cheese custard by melting butter over medium heat. Add flour to make a soft paste.  Remove from heat and gradually add milk mixed with nutmeg and 2 teaspoons salt.  Return to heat and bring to a boil stirring constantly.  Remove from heat again and stir in two thirds of the cheese, cool slightly, then stir in the eggs; set aside.
5) Reduce oven heat to 350.  Spray a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray; layer 1/2 of eggplant, 1/2 of sauce, the last 1/2 of eggplant and the rest of the sauce.  Top the mixture with the cheese custard and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
6) Bake the moussaka uncovered until the custard is set and lightly browned, about 1 hour.  Let rest 20 minutes before serving.


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