When scrolling through the WeightWatchers website recently, I came across this Greek-inspired casserole recipe. Billed as a lighter version of Greek moussaka, the recipe had 400-plus positive reviews. I had been wanting to attempt more eggplant-based recipes, so I hit “Print” and made plans to work it into our dinner rotation.
This is not a quick, weeknight dinner recipe. The casserole is prepared in multiple phases, and from the time I began chopping vegetables to the time John and I sat down at the dinner table, at least two hours had passed. That being said, I rather relished the time and effort that I put into this meal; it made the result that much more satisfying.
I could not find extra-lean ground chicken breast, so I used the regular. While this likely upped the Points value, it also probably made the dish taste better. Instead of grated Parmesan, I used 3 oz of shaved Parmesan (1 oz went in the middle, the remaining 2 oz went on top). I wish I had reduced, or even eliminated, the cinnamon and nutmeg. Those flavors were much too strong in this dish; next time I may try just a dash of each to add warmth to the casserole without overpowering the other flavors. Otherwise, the casserole was quite tasty, and it holds up well as a leftover. John and I gave the recipe 3 stars, but I suspect that after adjusting the cinnamon and nutmeg, this will be at least a 3.5-star dish.
Greek Eggplant and Chicken Casserole
olive oil cooking spray
2 medium uncooked eggplants, peeled and cut lengthwise into ¼-inch-thick slices
¾ tsp table salt
1 lb uncooked extra lean ground chicken breast
1 cup uncooked onion, sliced
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 TB fresh parsley, chopped
1/3 tsp dried parsley
1/3 tsp chives, dried
1/3 tsp dried tarragon
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp table salt
½ tsp black pepper, freshly ground
28 oz canned diced tomatoes
2 TB canned tomato paste
6 oz grated Parmesan cheese, (about ¾ cup)
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9×13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
2. Place eggplant slices on paper towels and sprinkle with ¾ teaspoon of salt; let stand 20 minutes to draw out moisture.
3. Meanwhile, coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray; set pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook until browned, breaking up meat as it cooks, about 5 minutes. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring often, until onion is soft, about 3 minutes more. Add fresh parsley, dried herbs, cinnamon, nutmeg and ½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper; stir to coat. Cook until herbs and spices are fragrant, about 1 minute.
4. Add tomatoes and tomato paste; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until sauce thickens, about 15 minutes. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and set aside.
5. Off heat, coat surface of same skillet with cooking spray; set pan over medium-high heat. Wipe salt from eggplant slices with paper towel and add eggplant to hot skillet. Cook, until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side.
6. Arrange half of eggplant slices on bottom of prepared baking pan, slightly overlapping pieces to cover entire surface of pan. Top eggplant with chicken mixture; top with ¼ cup of grated topping. Top with remaining eggplant slices and remaining ½ cup of grated topping.
7. Bake until top is golden brown and filling is hot, about 45 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes, slice into 8 pieces and serve.
Yield: 8 servings. Per serving, 5 PointsPlus.