Inspired by my last trip to Crete I prepared Moussakaa today relying on my Lebanese taste buds. I have to admit here that it is not genius work on my part as we also make Moussakaa in our cuisine. And not only that, we also give the same name to this simple vegetable ragout, adding to it chickpeas and chopped parsley. The gentle thyme flavour in the Cretan version blends so well with the vegetables giving them a slight earthy and lemony tone. You can also choose from a range of seasonal summer vegetables, using any you prefer. I love that!
Visiting Crete in Greece for the first time in my life, I was stunned by the beauty of its nature and its similarity to Lebanon. I fell in love with the island and its people who, with their features, warmth and hospitability, reminded me so much of the Lebanese. Olive tree groves as far as your eyes can see, cypresses and oleanders on roads sides, deep-blue Mediterranean, high mountain range, fertile valleys and plateaux, citrus fruits plantations, all so unbelievably similar to Lebanon!
Bon Appétit and sahtein!
Moussakaa Cretan Style - Vegetable Ragout
Yield 6 servings
- 75 ml extra-virgin Olive oil
- 2 medium onions (250 g), peeled and quartered
- 6 small garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 large red pepper, rinsed and
- 1 large aubergine (400 g), rinsed, trimmed, partly peeled, halved lengthwise and cut into 3-cm pieces
- 2 medium zucchini (400 g), rinsed, trimmed and cut into 2-cm rounds
- 3 small potatoes (300 g), peeled, rinsed and cut into 2-cm rounds
- 4 medium tomatoes (400 g), rinsed and quartered
- ½ teaspoon salt or to taste
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper or to taste
- 2 heaped teaspoonful tomato paste
- 2 fresh thyme sprig or ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
- Heat the olive oil in a 30-cm large deep sauté pan with lid, over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes until slightly wilted. Add in the vegetables and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for about 20 minutes. Uncover and carefully mix vegetables without breaking them.
- Cover and cook for another 20 minutes until vegetables have released their juices. Add tomato paste and thyme. Continue cooking, covered, for about 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Don’t over cook! Serve lukewarm as main or side dish.
All images and text © Dina Bayoud Kohl for Dina’s Kitchen
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