Moussaka and a side salad make a great sharing supper. This vegetarian version of the Greek classic, has a creamy cheese topping, and is every bit as tasty as the meat version.
- 100g Puy lentils, washed and drained
- 50g red lentils, washed and drained
- 1 medium carrot, finely diced
- 1 banana shallot, peeled and finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely grated
- 2 medium potatoes
- 1 aubergine
- ½ red pepper, seeds removed, finely diced
- 1 stick of celery, finely diced
- 500ml vegetable stock
- 250ml tomato pasata
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- 1 pinch of ground cinnamon
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp sugar
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the sauce:
- 40g butter
- 50g plain/all purpose flour
- 450ml warm milk
- 30g grated parmesan cheese
- 50g grated cheddar cheese
- Peel the potatoes and blanch in boiling water for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, drain and leave to cool.
- Slice the aubergine into 50mm slices.
- Now heat a non-stick sauté pan and add 2 tbsp of olive oil and fry the aubergine slices, in batches, until they are golden. Drain each batch on kitchen paper to remove any excess oil. Set aside.
For the vegetable mixture
- Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a medium sauce pan, and gently fry the shallots for 1 minute. Now add the carrot, red pepper, and celery and cook for another 3 minutes.
- Add the lentils and garlic, herbs and cinnamon and mix well.
- Pour in the vegetable stock and tomato pasata and add the sugar as well.
- Stir well and bring to a medium simmer.
- Cook for around 30-40minutes until the mixture is thickened and the Puy lentils are tender. If the mixture looks like it is getting too thick add a little hot water to loosen it.
- Check the seasoning and add salt and black pepper to taste.
For the cheese sauce
- Warm the milk - I put it in a jug and heat in the microwave for 2 minutes - other wise use a pan - the milk should be warm not boiling.
- Put a small pan on a low heat and gently melt the butter, stir in the flour using a wooden spoon or a small whisk, and cook for 1 minute. Do not let the butter or flour brown.
- Take the pan off the heat and add the milk at once. Quickly whisk the milk into the flour until it is completely smooth.
- Once the milk is all in, bring the mixture back up to a simmer, stirring all the time to stop any lumps forming.
- Once the mixture looks as if it will not thicken any more, stir in the parmesan and cheddar cheese, and simmer it for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it looks glossy.
- Season with salt and pepper. If you do have a few lumps, just strain it through a sieve.
Assemble the moussaka
- Take a 22cm square oven proof dish and lightly oil the bottom.
- Slice the potatoes in 50mm slices and place them in a layer on the bottom of the dish.
- Next add a layer of vegetable mixture on top of the potatoes, followed by a layer of aubergine slices.
- Repeat until all the mixture is used and finish with a layer of aubergine.
- Spread the cheese sauce on top of the last layer of aubergine.
- Heat the oven to 200°C / Fan 180°C /400°F, and bake for 30-35 minutes until the top is golden and bubbling.
- Serve with a mixed salad.