Wednesday, October 8, 2008

"Ode to my People"

I've had a couple of eggplants sitting in my fridge for a while.  Diana had been utterly disappointed with her eggplant preparations earlier in the summer, so she pawned the more recent deliveries off on me.  Unsure if I could eat two eggplants all by myself in a timely manner, I wanted to make something for the both of us.  And so I was challenged: find a dish that she would enjoy, even though she was busy disliking its main ingredient.  

Roasted eggplant in some sort of pasta dish kept floating through my head, so I headed over to Epicurious and searched away.  When I came across a dish titled "Greek-Style Lamb and Eggplant Lasagne" I knew chances were good that I had hit the jackpot.  You see, Diana is Greek, and she grew up on the food of her people.  Even during her seven years of vegetarianism, she would make occasional exceptions for her mama's lamb.  So if the recipe was good, it was likely to be a hit.  

Historically, I'm not a huge fan of lamb or lasagne, but this recipe sounded seriously delicious. And the reviews were promising.  And those eggplants weren't going to hold out much longer. So last Friday, I invited a few friends over for dinner and took my first solo foray into Greek food. Saying it was a hit would be an understatement.  Deeming it an ode to her people, Diana claimed it was the single best thing I had ever cooked.  I must admit, I think it was her genetics speaking, but as I sit here eating the leftovers, I'm tempted to agree that it belongs in the top five, anyway.  I'll go ahead and say that you're gonna want to try it.  And it's sort of the perfect meal for this time of year -- warm and comforting as the weather starts to turn, but totally seasonal while you can still find some eggplant at the farmers market.  Just the kind of thing you might be looking for.  Incidentally, I have come to wonder exactly what was I thinking, not liking lasagne.  I mean, seriously??

You can find the recipe here.  Ignore most of the commentary: it's not all that time-consuming; some quality no-boil noodles work just fine; and though it looks like a lot in the pan, you do want to use all of the bechamel sauce -- it disappears as the lasagne cooks.  The only adjustment I made was to increase the spices by nearly (but not quite) double.  Other than that, follow the geniuses at Gourmet (it's much more convenient if you prep some of the steps -- the eggplant, even the meat sauce -- ahead of time), serve it up with a big Greek salad and let the praise roll in.