Castella Imports

Baked Lamb and Eggplant

Ingredients

3 lb eggplants

For Meat Sauce:
2 Tbsp. LIRA Pure Olive Oil
3 Large Yellow Onions (chopped)
2 Lb Ground Lean Lamb
3 Cups Canned Chopped "Kynos" Plum Tomatoes
3 Tbsp. Tomato Paste
4 Cloves Garlic, (Finely minced)
½ Cup Red Wine
1 Tbsp. Castella Oregano
¾ Cup (1 Oz) Castella  Parsley
1 Tbsp. Castella Ground Cinnamon
Pinch of Castella Ground Cloves or Allspice
LIRA Pure Olive Oil (for brushing)

For Bechamel Sauce:
3 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter
3 Tbsp. All-Purpose Flour
3 Cups Hot Milk
½  Tsp. Castella Ground Nutmeg
3 eggs (lightly beaten)
1 Cup Whole-Milk Ricotta Cheese
½ Cup Castella Plain Bread Crumbs
1 Cup Castella Grated Kefalotyri or Castella  Parmesan cheese

Method

  1. Peel the eggplants and cut into slices ½" inch thick.  Place the eggplant slices in a colander, sprinkle with salt and let stand for 1 hour to drain off the bitter juices.
For Meat Sauce
  1. In a large frying pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add in the onions and saute until tender, about 8 minutes.  Add the lamb and cook until the meat loses its redness and starts to brown, 5-7 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, wine, oregano,  parsley, cinnamon and ground cloves or allspice and simmer over low heat until thickened and most of the liquid is absorbed, about 45 minutes.  If it begins to look dry, add a little water.  Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt, pepper and the spices.  Set aside.
  2. Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F.  Rinse the eggplant slices with cool water, drain well and pat dry with paper towels.  Place on baking sheets, brush the tops with olive oil and bake in the oven, turning once and brushing on the second side with oil, until tender golden and translucent, 15-20 minutes.  Transfer to paper towels to drain.
For Bechamel Sauce
  1. In a small sauce pan over low heat, melt the butter.  Whisk in the flour and raise the heat to medium.  Cook, stirring for 2 minutes.  Do not brown.  Gradually whisk in the hot milk and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until thickened, 2-3 minutes.  Add the nutmeg, season to taste with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.  In a small bowl, whisk the eggs and ricotta until well blended, then whisk into the hot sauce.
  2. Reduce the oven temperature to 350° F.
To Assemble
  1. Oil an 11"-by-15" inch baking dish.  Sprinkle ¼ cup of the bread crumbs on the bottom of the dish. Arrange half of the eggplant slices in the dish and spoon the meat sauce over them.  Layer the remaining eggplant slices on top and pour the bechamel evenly over the surface.  Sprinkle with the remaining ¼ cup bread crumbs and then with the cheese.
  2. Bake until heated through and the top is golden brown,  about 45 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let stand for 15 minutes before cutting into squares to serve.
Courtesy of: Cooking.com