Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Zucchini and yellow squash moussaka

Steve took care of my vegetable garden while I worked 12-hour shifts all weekend, so when I got home Sunday night, I saw two cucumbers, three crookneck squash and a zucchini that he had seen fit to pick when he went out to water the garden that morning.  A week earlier, he had bought four zucchini that were still in the fridge this morning, so I decided to take all the zucchini and yellow squash on hand and make a bigger-than-usual batch of moussaka.  Here's one of the slices we had for dinner:

I make it with zucchini more often than I blog about it, but the last time or two it came out a big, mushy disappointment.  The problem with using zucchini instead of eggplant is that it contains more water, so even if you salt the slices and then pat them dry before baking them, more liquid comes out of them in the oven and there's nothing else to absorb them.  Until now: I decided to give it another try after stumbling upon this blogger's tip about putting down a layer of breadcrumbs before each layer of zucchini.  I skipped his suggestion about grilling the zucchini slices because it's summer and I just don't wanna.  My placement of the yellow squash and zucchini was pretty haphazard-looking in terms of the colors, but I did manage to layer complimentary shapes together so that they covered the layer beneath.

For the red sauce (the base of which was a 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes), I used lentils instead of meat, as per usual, then peeled, shredded and sauteed three carrots that I had no other use for.  Since I also have a bunch of fresh herbs growing in the backyard, I also picked, chopped and threw in about 15 fresh basil leaves, 20-25 fresh oregano leaves, 5 sprigs of thyme and one sprig of rosemary.  I also had a random jalapeno that was looking a little long in the tooth, so after donning a pair of disposable gloves, I chopped that finely and added it to the sauce as well.  Salt and nutmeg to taste.  This made for a more complicated sauce than usual, but I really wanted to use up all the ingredients I could, just like when I make lasagna.

Into a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes, uncovered.  Let it rest for an hour before cutting into it, and at the risk of copyright infringement...bam!

Steve and I each had a helping like the one above and four remain, so we'll be enjoying leftovers for the next couple of days.  I'm glad I had today off, since it took about two hours for the whole thing to come together (not counting the time in the oven and cooling afterward).  Whatever I make next will probably be simpler.  Until then...

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