2 lbs white potatoes, peeled, left whole
1 lb organic ground beef (
1/2 onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 t minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
2 cups tomato puree (I pureed fresh tomatoes in a food processor.)
1 bay leaf
olive oil cooking spray
1 large eggplant (about 1 1/4 pounds), peeled and cut into 1/3 inch slices.
salt and pepper to taste
*2 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese (optional topper)
1/2 c olive or coconut oil
1/2 c unbleached flour
2 cups almond milk
sea salt and black pepper to taste
Prep the veggies: Using a sharp peeler, partially peel the eggplants, leaving strips of peel about 1 inch wide around the eggplant. Slice the eggplant in to 1/2 inch slices. Place the eggplant slices in a colander and salt them liberally. Cover them with an inverted plate that is weighted down by a heavy can or jar. Place the colander in the sink so that excess moisture can be drawn out. They will need to sit for at least 15-20 minutes, preferably an hour. The salt also helps to remove some of the bitterness of the eggplant.1. Preheat oven to 425. Fill a large pot halfway with water, cover and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Add potatoes, lower heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 to 18 minutes, until firm but not fully cooked. Strain and set potatoes aside to cool.
2. While potatoes are cooking, brown meat with onion and garlic in a 2-qt pot over medium heat, breaking up meat into little pieces for about 4-5 minutes, until vegetables are tender and meat is no longer pink. Pour in tomato puree and 1 C water. Mix in cinnamon, salt, pepper, oregano and bay leaf. Lower heat to simmer and cook, covered, 20 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, cover 2 cookie sheets with aluminum foil and mist with cooking spray. Lay eggplant slices on sheet and lightly mist again with cooking spray. Bake in oven about 8 minutes. While eggplant cooks, slice potatoes into 1/4-inch slices. Remove eggplant, transfer to plate, raise oven temperature to 475, re-spray foil and lay potato slices on cookie sheets. Lightly mist potatoes with cooking spray and bake in oven for 8 minutes. Remove. Lower oven temp to 350.
4. Make bechamel sauce: Heat oil over low heat. Using a whisk, add flour and nutmeg, whisking continuously to a paste. Do not allow to brown. Add milk, whisking continuously. Simmer over low heat until it thickens but does not boil. Remove from heat and add egg replacer. Return to heat to thicken briefly, then salt and pepper to taste.
5. Spray a 12x9-inch casserole dish with cooking spray. Arrange 1 layer of potatoes in dish, top with layer of eggplant, then pour all of beef mixture over top. Top again with layer of potatoes and then eggplant. Finish with bechamel. Bake in oven for 45 minutes, until set and lightly brown. If desired (and you do not have a milk allergy :) , sprinkle with Parmesan cheese before serving.
Caveat: if you are interested in making this dish vegetarian, replace the meat with zucchini, and bake the first round with the eggplant at same temp and for same time.