Recipe: Not Really Moussaka

It tastes much better than it looks…

So I had this idea about making vegetarian moussaka with some of the leftovers and veggies I had in the house.  And I looked at the Delia vegetarian moussaka, and liked the look of it, so I thought I’d give it a try.  But then I couldn’t leave it alone, because I realised she was doing it wrong (moussaka has to have layers or it doesn’t count, at least in my book).  And then I had to send Andrew out for Emergency Potatoes.  And then it would barely fit in my casserole dish even when I pressed it down really hard, so I couldn’t give it as much custard as it deserved (and a sane person wouldn’t have given it any).  And then I realised that I actually had a casserole dish which it would have fitted, only now it’s way too late because it’s all in the oven.  Also, it’s 8pm on a weeknight and I’ve only just got this in the oven, possibly because I only started cooking at nearly 7pm and then I fiddled around being indecisive about the recipe and not multitasking.

It’s going to taste fantastic, you know, but I really could have done it better.  Much better.  This quantity looks like it will feed about 6-8 people, depending on how hungry they are and whether they are having bread and salad on the side, and also depending what’s for dessert, because you have to leave room for dessert, you know.  Even when it’s chocolate pudding from a box.  Which it might possibly be, but I’m allowed to do that, because it will also be with fresh strawberries and stewed rhubarb and icecream, which makes it Healthy.  Well, maybe not the ice-cream, though, you know, calcium is good for humans, and anyway, who needs to worry about healthy when you’ve just eaten a main that is packed full of vegetables and lentils?  Not you.  Not me, either.

OK, maybe I should just get on with the recipe.

Your shopping list

2 eggplants
olive oil
salt, pepper
75 g puy lentils
75 g green lentils (or use 150 g of either puy or green)
375 ml vegetable stock (from a box, or make your own)
400g tinned tomatoes, or leftover quick tomato sauce
1 tsp cinnamon
200ml red wine
2 tbsp tomato paste
600 g potatoes, thickly sliced
2 brown onions, chopped fairly finely
2 capsicums (one red and one green, ideally), chopped
6 cloves of garlic, crushed (or to taste.  I am a garlic fiend, and six cloves is positively moderate in my book)
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried mint
500g yoghurt
2 tbsp flour
2 eggs
200 g feta
50 g parmesan

Now what will you do with it?

Slice the eggplants into 1cm slices, then chop the slices into 4-6 pieces.  Put in a colander with a little salt over each layer, and leave for fifteen minutes so that the bitter juices can escape.

(You know, I’ve just realised that half the point of this recipe was to use up the zucchini, and I didn’t remember to put them in.  Drat.  I’ll point out the place for optional zucchini later.  Can you tell I’m a bit too vague to be writing recipes just now?)

Heat the stock, then add the puy lentils, and cook, covered for 15 minutes.  Add the green lentils and cook for another fifteen minutes, or until all lentils are soft. Add the red wine, tinned tomatoes, tomato paste, cinnamon, and keep simmering over a low heat.

Should have used a larger saucepan…

While the lentils are cooking, parboil the potatoes until just tender.  Drain.

Heat a little oil in a large skillet and sautée the onions, garlic and capsicums with the oregano until the onions and capsicums are soft.  Add half this mix to the lentil mixture, and set the rest aside.  Rinse the eggplant, then heat a little more oil and half the dried mint in the same skillet you used for the onions, and sautée half the eggplant until golden.  Do the same with the zucchini, if using.  Or replace the eggplant with zucchini – I won’t tell.  Put into the bowl with the rest of the onion mixture, and repeat with the rest of the eggplant and mint.

These eggplants look so pretty…

Set aside with the capsicums, add  a little more oil to the pan and sauté the potatoes, trying not to break them up too much.  Yes, this is a lot of olive oil all up.  But olive oil is good for you, and moreover, I don’t really care right now.  When the potatoes are getting nicely golden, return the other veggies to the pan, and mix around a bit, then turn off the heat.

Put half the potato and eggplant mixture in the bottom of a LARGE casserole dish, and spoon the lentil mixture over the top.  Spoon the rest of the potato and eggplant mixture over this and flatten out a little.

It looked more colourful in real life…

In a separate bowl, mix together the yoghurt, eggs, flour, crumbled feta, and half the parmesan.  Incidentally, this is double the amount I used, but I think it is the proper amount for this amount of moussaka, assuming you’ve actually managed to find a casserole dish big enough for the monster you have created.  Spoon this custard over the top of the moussaka, and top with the rest of the grated parmesan.

Bake at 200°C for 40 minutes.  Eat. On sober reflection, this probably serves at least 8 people.  And it will almost certainly be even nicer the next day.  We’ll be finding this out, because I’m planning on having it for lunch tomorrow, too.

This is not very brown. I don’t know why it is not very brown. It had plenty of time in which to become brown. When you cook this, you should definitely cook it until it is more brown than this.  Unless it is 9:00pm on a weeknight and you need your dinner now, brown or not brown… which, incidentally, was my excuse, too.

Variations

Well, this is already nut-free and vegetarian, and I would say it’s fairly low GI, because the potato-to-everything-else ratio is low, and a lot of the carbs come from the lentils, which are our friends (not the friends of the low-fructose contingent, however, who might find it easier to stick to a meaty sauce instead of a lentil one – I’d use lamb mince and whatever method you normally use for bolognese sauce with the seasonings and red wine from the lentil mix).  For a gluten-free version, you could use quinoa flour or your gluten free flour of choice in the custard, or skip it entirely.  If you skip it, though, the custard is likely to separate a bit when you serve it, but it will still taste great.  For a vegan version, I’d consider not actually mixing the sautéed potatoes through the other veggies and using them as a crispy potato topping instead.  That’s the really simple option.  You could also top it with a serve of vegan béchamel sauce, which might be nicer, because something creamy would be good here, and a sprinkling of bread crumbs for crispiness.

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3 responses to “Recipe: Not Really Moussaka

  1. I often find that I add more than I really should in a saucepan – love the sound of this – looks easier than layers of eggplant slices – and if you don’t have a large enough dish for it then two dishes will do just as well – esp if you decide to stash some in the freezer which I would like to do if I had room

    • Yes, the assembly takes about half a minute, rather than ten or more! It’s a little time-consuming (though it will be less so in future, because I now know what I’m trying to do, and can do a lot more while potatoes, lentils, etc are cooking), but I think worth it.

      (And I would have done two dishes, but I misjudged the capacity of the one I had…)

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