Eggplant and Lentil Moussaka Recipe

Moussaka is one of those baked dishes that can be tweaked in so many ways and it works really well without meat. This version uses lentils and mushrooms, but almost any beans and seasonal vegetables could be substituted.

Serves:

4

Preparation time:

15 minutes

Cooking time:

1 hour 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for brushing
  • 3 eggplants (aubergines), trimmed
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 11 oz/300 g mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cups (14 oz/400 g) canned chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cups (14 oz/400 g) cooked or canned lentils, drained
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Few mint or Greek basil sprigs, chopped
  • Few drops of balsamic vinegar
  • 4 tbsp grated Kefalotyri cheese
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the béchamel sauce:

  • ¼ cup (2 oz/50 g) butter
  • ½ cup (2 oz/50 g) all-purpose (plain) flour
  • Generous 2 cups (18 fl oz/ 500 ml) milk
  • 2 medium free-range eggs, beaten
  • ½ cup (2 oz/50 g) grated Kefalotyri cheese
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

1 Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4. Oil 2 baking sheets.

2 Thinly slice 2 eggplants (aubergines) and place in a single layer on the oiled baking sheets. Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 25–30 minutes, or until tender and golden brown.

3 Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet (frying pan) over low heat. Cook the onion and garlic, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, or until softened.

4 Cut the remaining eggplant into chunks and add to the skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, or until golden. Stir in the mushrooms and cook, stirring, for 5–7 minutes until tender and golden. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and cook gently for 10 minutes, until the mixture reduces and thickens. Stir in the lentils, cinnamon, herbs and balsamic vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

5 Make the béchamel sauce: melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat and stir in the flour with a wooden spoon. Cook for 1–2 minutes until it starts to colour and smell nutty, then beat in the milk, a little at a time, until smooth and free from lumps. Turn up the heat and stir until the sauce is thick and smooth. Remove from the heat, beat in the eggs, and then the cheese and nutmeg. Season to taste.

6 Put half the baked eggplant slices into the bottom of a large ovenproof dish. Cover with the eggplant and lentil mixture and top with the remaining eggplant slices. Pour the sauce over the top and sprinkle with grated cheese.

7 Bake for 35–40 minutes, until the top is set and brown. Cut into slices and serve hot.

Recipe extracted from The Greek Vegetarian Cookbook by Heather Thomas. Published by Phaidon. Photography by Haarala Hamilton.

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