Our take on this classic Greek casserole uses a mixture of ricotta and feta cheeses instead of the conventional white sauce, which is made from butter, flour, and milk.
- Butter, for baking dish
- 1 large eggplant (2 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 7 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 2 onions, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 pound ground beef or lamb
- 1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes, drained
- 2 teaspoons tomato paste
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 cup (9 ounces) ricotta cheese, room temperature
- 3/4 cup (4 ounces) feta cheese, room temperature
- 1 large egg, room temperature
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Butter a 4-quart ovenproof dish. On a baking sheet, toss eggplant with 6 tablespoons oil and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Spread in a single layer, and roast in the oven until soft and golden, 20 to 30 minutes. Transfer eggplant to prepared dish, spreading in an even layer.
In a large saucepan, warm remaining tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, and ground meat; cook, stirring to prevent sticking, until meat is browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in drained tomatoes, tomato paste, parsley, oregano, cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Simmer, crushing tomatoes with the edge of a spoon, 15 minutes. Spread the mixture evenly over the eggplant.
Heat broiler. In a small bowl, mix ricotta, feta, egg, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and a pinch of salt. Pour mixture over the casserole, and spread evenly to the edges. Broil until topping is browned in spots, 5 to 10 minutes. Serve hot.