Moussaka (Greek Lasagna)

My mother loved moussaka. When I made it for her, I used ground lamb, ricotta cheese, eggs, and homemade pasta sauce. Things and times have changed so here’s one that’s dairy, gluten and egg free and uses jarred (or homemade if you have the time and desire) sauce. Just in case, I’m including my recipe for pasta sauce.

First, start the tomato sauce if making homemade by heating in a small Dutch oven:

1 tablespoon olive oil

Add to it when hot:

1 diced medium onion

1 diced sweet pepper, any color

1/2 cup sliced carrots (or grated)

6 ounces shitake mushrooms

Stir to combine, lower heat to medium and cook until the onions and mushrooms are sweating and onion is translucent. Add:

1-2 teaspoons minced garlic

32 ounces small diced tomatoes

16 ounces tomato puree

1 teaspoon mixed Italian dried herbs (basil, marjoram, thyme)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Cook over medium low heat for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally. This gets rid of much of the water in the tomatoes so the sauce can thicken. If it boils too vigorously, reduce the heat to low. When reduced by about 1/3, add:

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon agave nectar

Use an immersion blender to cream most of the vegetables, leaving a few whole. I do this because then the eggplant slices sit better in the sauce but it is optional. In a large skillet, heat:

1 tablespoon olive oil

When hot add:

1 pound bulk Italian sausage (or if you want this vegan, diced tofu)**

Cook the sausage through and then drain off the fat and add to the tomato sauce, stirring to combine. Set aside. If using jarred sauce, this will take more than 1 large jar.

While the sauce is cooking, peel and thinly slice:

1 large eggplant

Place the slices on a large, sided baking sheet in a single layer and salt generously. Once salted, another layer of eggplant can be added on the top of the first, again salting generously. Place a slightly smaller baking sheet on top of the eggplant and then weight it down with large cans. Let sit at least 30 minutes, 60 is preferable.

After sitting, wash each eggplant slice to remove the salt and whatever liquid was expelled from the slices. Dry between paper towels. Heat in a large skillet (12 inch) or flat griddle:

1 teaspoon olive oil (just to coat the bottom of the pan)

When hot, add eggplant slices until the bottom is covered but the slices have room to move. Let brown for a minute or two and then turn and brown the second side. Repeat until all the slices are browned.

Still while the sauce is cooking, add to a large saucepan:

1/2 cup olive oil

Begin heating over medium high heat. Add:

3/4 cup gluten-free flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon allspice (or nutmeg)

Whisk to combine. Cook over medium low heat for 2-3 minutes to cook the flour then add, 1 cup at a time:

3 cups oat milk (or any other non-dairy milk except soy)

Whisk each portion of milk into the flour and cook, whisking every minute or so, until the white sauce is thickened. It should be the consistency of a pudding or mashed potatoes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray the bottom and sides of a 9×13″ baking pan with non-stick spray. Line the bottom of the pan with slices of eggplant.* Add a layer of the meat sauce and repeat ending with a layer of eggplant (3 layers of eggplant and 2 layers of sauce). There may be a little meat sauce left over. Slowly pour the white sauce on top of the last layer of eggplant (I didn’t quite have enough eggplant to cover the entire top but it still worked okay). The white sauce on mine was only about 1/2 inch thick but if your pan is deep enough, use all the white sauce, it’s that yummy on the top! Sprinkle the top with:

1-2 cups grated parmesan cheese

Place baking pan on a large baking sheet because if it’s full, it will bubble over and put in the oven. Bake for 30-45 minutes or until the middle is bubbling. Let cool for about 15-20 minutes before slicing.

*Don’t think you have enough eggplant? Peel and thinly slice 1-2 medium to large Russet potatoes and place those on the bottom layer of the moussaka, using the eggplant for just other 2 layers.

**I used sweet Italian sausage but feel free to use any ground meat.

Stuffed Turkey Rolls

I found some turkey breast filets at the store the other day and wondered how to cook them without drying them out. Turkey breast filets can be either too thick or too thin; these were very thin. I used to make a turkey “napoleon” for my husband and I wondered if it would work as a roll. It not only worked, but they turned out delicious. The stuffing can be made ahead and is enough to stuff 6-8 turkey filets depending on their size. Of course, any stuffing recipe will work but I made my sausage and mushroom stuffing, adding half a pear for a little sweetness and it turned out succulent. The stuffing is the most time consuming part of this process.

Serves 3-4.

To make the stuffing, over medium a 10″ skillet, heat:

2 tablespoons olive oil

When hot, add:

1/2 medium onion, finely diced

2 small stalks celery, finely diced

1/2 medium pear, minced

3 ounces mushrooms, finely diced

Stir and reduce heat to medium low. Cover the vegetables for about 5 minutes until they are tender. While they cook, break up 2 slices of bread (I used the quick oat bread recipe on this blog). If using a different bread, be sure to crumble into small pieces. When the vegetables are soft, add them along with the oil to the bread crumbs, mix thoroughly. To the skillet add:

4 ounces sausage, any kind your family likes

Cook thoroughly, breaking it up as it cooks into a “minced” meat consistency (like hamburger). This should only take a couple of minutes. Add to the stuffing mix along with:

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 to 1 teaspoon of ground sage

If your turkey filets are square, you’ve hit the jackpot! Mine were triangular. Add about 1/3 cup of the stuffing on the longer side of the filet and pull the smaller side over it. I used bacon to wrap and hold the roll but I would suggest using porchetta instead because the bacon had too strong a flavor and almost overpowered the turkey roll.

Once rolled and wrapped, secured with toothpicks if necessary, place in a 10″ skillet with a little oil so that the bacon doesn’t stick. Cook over medium heat for approximately 2-3 minutes per side, getting all four sides.

While the turkey rolls are cooking, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in another 10″ skillet. When hot add:

3 ounces of mushrooms

1/2 medium pear, minced

Cook for a 2-4 minutes, salt and pepper to taste and add:

2 tablespoons all purpose gluten-free flour

Stir to combine so that all the oil is floured and cook over medium low heat for 1-2 minutes to cook the flour. Add:

1 1/2 to 2 cups turkey (or chicken) stock

Stir to combine and stir constantly until thickened into a gravy.

Serve the turkey rolls over mashed potatoes (or rice), adding gravy to each of the servings. Enjoy!

Easy Sausage Gravy (dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free)

I’ve been discovering many different things to eat for breakfast since I am now allergic to eggs. Sausage and gravy is one of my very favorites. So satisfying.

To make sausage gravy, fry in a non-stick skillet

  • 1 pound lean turkey sausage (if you use pork sausage, drain off fat before proceeding; and there are excellent meat-free sausages now available if vegan is desired)

When cooked, add

  • 2 cups of your favorite non-dairy milk (DO NOT USE SOY MILK)

Whisk until smooth

  • 1 tablespoon gluten-free all purpose flour (depending on the milk you use, you might need to use more than 1 tablespoon but no more than 2 TBS should work)
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk, except soy

Add to pan; whisk until smooth and thickened; this should only take about 2-3 minutes over medium heat.

Easy Ragu Sauce (dairy-free, gluten-free, refined sugar-free, soy-free)

Who doesn’t love pasta? And for me, I love it all ways but with a ragu sauce, one of my all time favorites. I remember as a teenager, baking Italian bread to go with a spaghetti supper, ripping pieces off the bread and tasting the sauce, telling myself it was to make sure it was seasoned correctly but actually just because I love the sauce more than the pasta!

If you want to make this even quicker and easier than my recipe, begin as I did but instead of adding canned tomatoes and tomato paste, mix in a large jar of ready made tomato sauce (I happen to be addicted to Rao’s Sauce for Sensitive Diets).

This recipe will serve four. In a medium, deep saucepan, heated over medium heat, add:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound Italian sausage, any type your family likes be it pork, chicken, or vegan (if using links, take the sausage out of the casing or slice after cooking)

Cook the sausage until browned (I always think of Anne Burrell when I say that – love her saying, Brown Food GOOD!). Remove the sausage from the pan and set aside. Add to the frying pan:

1 medium or 1/2 large onion, diced

1 sweet pepper diced, any color

1/2 cup grated carrot

6-8 ounces sliced or diced mushrooms (any type you like)

Cook until onions are translucent and mushrooms are browned, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add:

1 small to medium zucchini, diced

1-2 small yellow squash

1 tablespoon minced garlic

Stir the vegetables and cover the pan. I used summer squash but feel free to substitute any vegetables your family likes; I’ve even used small frozen Brussel sprouts. Cook 8-10 minutes until the squash are softened but not mushy. Add the sausage back into the pan along with:

1 32oz can tomato puree

1 16oz can small diced tomatoes

2 teaspoons Italian spices (oregano, thyme, basil)

This is where a large jar of prepared tomato sauce could be substituted (cooking time would be reduced to about 10 minutes and it would be ready to serve). Simmer for 30-45 minutes and add:

1 small can tomato paste

1 tablespoon agave nectar

Stir making sure the tomato paste is incorporated. Cook about 5 more minutes and serve with pasta.

Sausage and Mushroom Stuffing (dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free)

My husband never liked anything but Stove Top Stuffing.  Last year at Thanksgiving, he told me not to bother to make him any stuffing so I made a small batch of my stuffing and then I didn’t get much of it because he ate almost all of it!  So now I make a large dish of this dressing so there’s plenty for leftovers.  Crunchy on the bottom and soft and moist inside, you’ll never miss the gluten or the eggs.  I use this for a Thanksgiving dressing or to stuff chicken breasts or pork chops.

I don’t cut and dry the bread before making the stuffing — the way I figure it, if you have to dry the bread out so that it will absorb all the flavors of the other things you’re adding, your bread isn’t very good.  So I start with my favorite gluten-free bread (I love the DeLand’s Millet and Flax bread or even their millet flatbread), and then don’t add as much chicken or turkey stock (if you want this vegan, don’t use the sausage and use vegetable broth instead of the meat stocks).

Grease a large, flat casserole dish and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large skillet, over medium heat:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 pound of sausage, I use turkey sausage

Brown and then add:

  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1 cup diced baby bella mushrooms

Cook until the vegetables are soft.

In a medium size bowl, place:

  • 6 cups of diced gluten-free bread
  • 1 tablespoon dry sage
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • the sausage and vegetable mixture

Mix well and pour into the prepared dish.  Pour over the dressing, 1 cup stock (you can use up to 1 1/2 cups if needed but it may be mushier) being sure to get most of the bread moist.  Cover with aluminum foil, or the cover to the casserole dish if it has one.  Cook for 1/2 hour and then remove cover and let cook for another 15 minutes until top is browned.

Turkey Bacon wrapped Dates with Sausage (dairy-free, gluten-free)

This is a very quick, delicious appetizer.  These take minutes to make and after you either broil them in the oven, or air fry, the dates get slightly gooey and just envelope the sausage.  The bacon gets crispy which adds the crunch needed to make this the perfect appetizer.  And its very easy to increase or decrease to fit your needs.

You’ll need:

  • 10 medjool dates, pitted
  • 5 slices of turkey bacon, cut in half (or any pork bacon)
  • 1 turkey Italian sausage (or any kind of sausage you like but it should be a little spicy), cooked and cut lengthwise into 5 pieces and then each piece cut in half to fit into the dates.  If you want more sausage in your dates, simply cook a second sausage and cut in bigger pieces.  I cut mine to fit snuggly into the date.
  • 10 toothpicks soaked in water

Slice open each date (remove seed if not pitted).  Insert a piece of the sausage and then wrap with the bacon.  Insert a toothpick so that it holds the ends of the bacon together.  Place each on a greased cookie sheet if you are going to broil them, or onto your air fry tray with the outside edge of the bacon facing downward.  Broil or air fry for 5-7 minutes then turn over and cook for another 5-7 minutes.

Biscuits and Sausage Gravy (dairy-free, gluten-free)

 

 

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Grease 8×10 pan.  To make biscuits blend:

  • 1/4 cup all purpose gluten free flour
  • 1/2 cup sweet sorghum flour
  • 1/4 cup amaranth flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon guar gum

Add and blend using a pastry cutter or fork

  • 1/4 cup softened margarine

Mix in

  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup rice milk (or your favorite non-dairy milk), should be thick and a little sticky but not too dry
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar

Spoon into pan; makes 6 medium sized biscuits.  Bake for 12-15 minutes.

 

To make sausage gravy, fry in a non-stick skillet

  • 1 pound lean turkey sausage (if you use pork sausage, drain off fat before proceeding)

When cooked, add

  • 2 cups of your favorite non-dairy milk (DO NOT USE SOY MILK)

Whisk until smooth

  • 1 tablespoon gluten-free all purpose flour (depending on the milk you use, you might need to use more than 1 tablespoon but no more than 2 TBS should work)
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk, except soy

Add to pan; whisk until smooth and thickened; this should only take about 2-3 minutes over medium heat.