Monday, April 16, 2012

Lamb and Eggplant Lasagne

We practically started a food fight on Facebook this week. 

We asked the innocuous question: "Lamb - love it or loathe it?"  And guess what?   The foodie community is pretty polarized on the matter, much like my family where we're split down the middle with the adults liking and our teenagers refusing to eat the stuff unless it's disguised - as it is in the following recipe.

The comments on the Reading Terminal Market's Facebook page flew thick and fast. 

We shared our recipe for 7-hour lamb and the responses ranged from "yuck" to "love, love, love."  The great lamb divide was best represented by these two Facebook fans one of whom explained:  "Lamb has a funny aftertaste to me, very gamey, no matter how it is cooked."  Another fan thinking aloud pondered: "The majority of people in the U.S. haven't been exposed to Lamb as a meat.  To them it's more of a delicacy, like veal or oysters."  This could be true.  Whereas in European and Middle Eastern cuisines Lamb is a central ingredient, it is less prominent in the American kitchen.

Whether you are a Lamb lover or not, the following recipe is easy to prepare and is a nice twist on a traditional family favorite.  I served it to my teens this weekend and they had no idea they were eating Lamb!

Lamb and Eggplant Lasagne
Greek flavor, like a moussaka, only bulked up with pasta.  I've always wondered whether it would work adding lasagne sheets to a traditional Greek moussaka recipe.  This recipe seems to follow the Greek theme as it calls for feta cheese, which I think will add an interesting twist to these flavors.

Ground lamb is not readily found - except for at Reading Terminal Market!  When making Lamb Kofta or a dish like this requiring ground lamb, we usually ask the folks at Giuntas to grind us fresh lamb mince.

Pulled this recipe from an extraordinary website, which is dedicated to lamb.  Ran through the list and thought "gotta make that." "that one sounds good," "but so does that..."  Check it out for yourself.  It's called - it's chockful of ideas.

30 (1/4-inch thick) sliced eggplant
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 eggs, beaten with 2 tablespoons milk
3 cups fine bread crumbs
1 cup vegetable oil, divided
1 pound feta cheese, crumbled
2 cups prepared béchamel or Alfredo sauce
12 ready-to-use lasagna slices
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound ground lamb
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
Sea salt, to taste
2 cups finely chopped onion
½ cup finely chopped celery
½ cup finely chopped carrot
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
3 cups beef broth
2 (15-ounce) cans chopped tomatoes
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 Bay leaves
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried basil
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese


1) Prepare the sauce: Heat oil in a large pot over medium. Add lamb; season with red pepper and salt. Brown on all sides, turning occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add onion, carrot, and celery; cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add remaining ingredients, except cheese, to pot; whisk well to mix. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce to a low simmer and cook, covered, 2 hours. Whisk in cheese; cool to room temperature.

2) Prepare the eggplant: Coat eggplant slices in flour; dip into egg mixture; dip into bread crumbs. Shake off excess. Heat ½ cup of vegetable oil in a large pan over medium-high. Add eggplant in small batches; cook until golden and crisp, turning once, about 5 minutes total. Remove eggplant to paper towels; repeat with remaining slices.

3) Preheat oven to 375°F. Assemble the lasagna: Lightly grease a lasagna baking pan. Spread 2 cups prepared lamb sauce over bottom of pan. Crumble ¼ cup feta cheese over sauce. Layer 10 slices eggplant over cheese. Cover with a layer of lasagna slices. Repeat with remaining ingredients to form 3 layers total.

4) Spread béchamel sauce over the top of lasagna; sprinkle with any remaining cheese.

5) Bake until golden and bubbly, about 45 minutes. Serve warm.

 With some sauteed greens and a loaf of crusty bread, our Sunday night was complete.

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