In Lebanon, Moussaka is made like a stew and eaten at room temperature or cold. It’s a popular rustic summer dish made all across Lebanon and each area incorporates into it their own flavors. I made mine the way that my mother and her mother and her mother made it, with fresh herbs, fresh tomatoes, a touch of homemade tomato paste (made last week) and a beautiful collection of eggplants. I used these varieties: Fairytale, Gretel Hybrid, Sweet African Orange, and Little Fingers. It will work with any kind, so pick your favorites.
2 lbs eggplants, cut in similar size
2 lbs tomatoes, peeled and diced
8 oz dried chickpeas, soaked and cooked – see below (or 1 can no salt chickpeas)
1 1/2 water (use the chickpea water)
1 large Vidalia onion, cut in half moon slices
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, scant
2 tbsp tomato paste
3-4 garlic cloves, sliced thin
5-6 leaves sweet basil, chiffonade
2 sprigs of thyme
2 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp sea salt (for salting eggplant)
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Soak dried chickpeas in water to cover for 24 hours. Change water once half way through. Drain chickpeas (save liquid) and place in a medium pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cover. Let cook for about 45 minutes or until tender. Set aside
Trim and cut eggplant to similar size. Sprinkle with salt and rub through. Let sit for 15 minutes, then rinse and pat dry with paper towel. Slice garlic and onion and begin sauteeing in a large pot with olive oil on medium heat. Once softened, add eggplants and sautée briefly for a few minutes. Add fresh diced tomatoes with salt and pepper (adjust to taste). Sautée for another 5 minutes. Dilute the tomato paste in the chickpea water (measure 1 1/2 cups), then add to the pot and add chickpeas. Cover pot and simmer for approx. 40 minutes. Finish with fresh herbs.