Lenten Moussaka

1 large eggplant
salt
4 or 5 small globe artichokes (or about 2 cups of water packed canned artichokes)
about 1/4 cup of olive oil
2 large yellow onions, cut into thin slices
2 stalks of celery, chopped
3 tablespoons of tomato paste
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning or mixture of favorite fresh herbs, minced
1/2 cup of lentils
3 cups of stock, broth or bouillon of choice
salt and fresh coarse ground black pepper to taste
the juice of 2 lemons
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
additional olive oil
lemon wedges
parsley springs

Remove the skin from the egg plant in 1 inch stripes lengthwise. Cut into 1/4 inch thick slices, sprinkle lightly with salt and set aside.

Remove the stem and tough outer leaves from the artichokes, put into a large pot of boiling water, reduce the heat and simmer until tender. They are done when you may pull off a leaf very easily, about 30 minutes. Omit this step if you are using canned artichokes.

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy skilled and gently sauté the onion, garlic and celery until tender and lightly caramelized, or just beginning to brown. Add the tomato paste and herbs and stir to mix well. Add the lentils, stir to coat evenly with the onion mixture and add the stock or Court Bouillon. You may used canned or see:Heat the olive oil in a large heavy skilled and gently sauté the onion, garlic and celery until tender and lightly caramelized, or just beginning to brown. Add the tomato paste and herbs and stir to mix well. Add the lentils, stir to coat evenly with the onion mixture and add the stock or bouillon.

Stir well, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, cover and continue to cook for 45 minutes to an hour or until the lentils are extremely tender. Stir in the parsley and lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, rinse the egg plant under cold running water and pat dry. Heat about inch of olive oil in a heavy skillet and fry the eggplant until it is golden brown on both sides, drain and set aside. Drain the artichokes and cut in half. Remove the choke from the center.

Oil the bottom of a heavy baking pan well. I like to use a cast iron skillet for this. Spread a layer of the lentil mixture on the bottom of the pan. Use half of the egg plant slices to cover the lentils. Spread some more of the lentil mixture over the eggplant. Arrange the artichoke halves on top of this, cover the artichokes with the remaining egg plant and top with the remaining lentil mixture. Cover with oiled foil and press down lightly. Bake in a preheated 350ºfor about 30 to 45 minutes. Allow to sit for about 5 minutes when it comes out of the oven. Unmold onto a serving plate, drizzle a bit of extra olive oil over it and garnish with wedges of lemon and sprigs of fresh parsley.

Serves 4 to 6



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