This recipe is from Joan Nathan’s book, The Jewish Holiday Kitchen. It came to her via the wife of a former Israeli ambassador and is a kosher version of the famous Greek moussaka, which includes dairy products along with the meat. Joan says that eggplant casseroles like this are traditional in Israel today and have their roots in Rumania, Greece, and Turkey. I made this in stages, preparing the tomato sauce and meat mixture on one day, and then doing the eggplant, assembly, and cooking on the next day.
1 1/2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Pinch of sugar
1 pound ground lamb
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
3 medium eggplants
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Saute the onion and garlic in oil until golden. Divide into 2 parts and place half in a large heavy saucepan. Add the tomatoes, 1/2 teaspoon basil, and 1/2 teaspoon oregano. Cover, and simmer over low heat for 1 hour. Add sugar.
To the other part of the onion mixture, add the ground meat and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon basil and oregano. Brown the meat, but do not overcook. Add the nutmeg, parsley, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
In a heavy frying pan, using an additional 1/4 cup oil, fry the unpeeled eggplants which have been thinly sliced lengthwise and wiped dry. As the slices become golden brown on each side, remove them to a paper towel to drain off the oil. (An alternative method which I have discovered is to oil a cookie sheet, then brush each eggplant slice with oil and broil until golden on each side. This method takes half the time and uses much less oil.)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place 1 layer of eggplant in a 2-quart casserole. Add some of the cooked tomatoes, then some of the meat mixture, and continue in layers until the ingredients are used up, ending with a layer of tomatoes.
Bake uncovered until brown on top. It can take up to 1 1/2 hours. It is best to cook the casserole for 45 minutes the night before serving and then another 45 minutes the next day. Recooking improves the flavor.
Joan Nathan is the author of many Jewish cookbooks, including The Jewish Holiday Kitchen, The Children’s Jewish Holiday Kitchen, The Jewish Holiday Baker, Jewish Cooking in America, and her newest book, The Foods of Modern Israel (Alfred A. Knopf).