Vegetarian Moussaka*

*Probably not a genuine moussaka. This is from a recipe I found somewhere back in 2017 and then recently made from memory. It turned out very nice, but I cannot guarantee authenticity, so don’t serve it to a Nonna and expect a good review. The cheddar cheese is the big clue. That was definitely in there back when I made it previously. Did I find that in a recipe, or did I wing it back then and now it’s sealed itself in amber in my memory? Who can say. (You. You can say. The internet is right there.)

Basically, moussaka are a Greek version of lasagna. There are layers of potato and eggplant instead of pasta (making it safer for the gluten free crowd) and instead of bechamel sauce there’s ricotta and cheddar. It freezes well and a lot of this can be made ahead of time and assembled for the final cooking later on. When I made this most recently I left it for a few hours before putting the dish and baking and I think this allowed the flavours in the tomato mix to develop.

Ingredients:

1 tin crushed tomatoes
1 tin lentils, strained and rinsed
Garlic (loads)
2 grated carrots
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 large eggplant
2 large baking potatoes, peeled
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 cup or a small container ricotta cheese
2/3 cups grated cheddar cheese, with some more to garnish
Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Cut eggplant and peeled baking potatoes into 1cm thick slices (I prefer discs that are roughly portion sized to make it easier to cut up later, but it doesn’t really matter). Pan fry each slice in a skillet until both sides are lightly browned and the slices themselves are half cooked.

While you’re doing that you can be working on the tomato portion. In a saucepan fry off some garlic. Add tinned tomatoes, marjoram, nutmeg and oregano, fry for another couple of minutes. Add tinned lentils and grated carrots (you can also use grated zucchini). Add salt and pepper. Cook it until the carrot or zucchini is cooked down and the sauce has come together nicely. Season with salt and pepper. It will taste quite sharp. Do not be alarmed. Set aside.

Mix together ricotta and cheddar in a bowl.

Get glass or pyrex baking dish. Add tomato mix, cooked eggplant, cooked potato and cheese mix in layers. Feel free to let it be very rustic.

Finish with a cheese layer on top. Add the last of the grated cheese. Put in oven that you’ve preheated to 180 degrees for about forty minutes. Do not set your heart on the cheese on the top browning . There’s too much moisture in the ricotta cheese for that to happen.

Serve with a leafy green salad.

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