The new year means January and that means pretty cold and miserable weather here in Scotland. After all the fuss and hoopla of Christmas the dark nights and cold weather can suddenly seem a tad overwhelming. One thing is called for it this situation – comfort food and if you can make it healthy comfort food then all the better. This easy vegetarian mousaka definitely ticks both boxes and gets my vote for good eats for January.
I ashamed to admit that my very best memories of moussaka are having it served with chips (fries) and a Greek salad at a beach-side taverna in Corfu many years ago when I worked there as a holiday rep. Ashamed, in that all you health food freaks out there will be wincing at the mere thought of eating chips with anything, far less something already loaded with carbs in the first place. But in reality am I remotely ashamed? Hell no, it was great moussaka and those were fabulous days – aaah to dream. Youth, sunshine, Greek islands, great friends and way too much booze, what was there not to like, oh and the food was good too…..
I love moussaka and usually make it with lamb mince, this time I fancied a lighter version and went for the meatiness of mushrooms and with chickpeas and lentils for texture. The result was much better than I had anticipated. I still got all those gorgeous Greek flavours in there like garlic, thyme and oregano, and the grating of nutmeg in the creamy cheese sauce just does it for me every time.
So even if you are a confirmed carnivore (and my daughter Idgy is just that) give this one a go, I’m sure you’ll love it.
- 1 aubergine
- 300ml/1/2 pint vegetable stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small onion sliced
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 65g/2oz green lentils
- 112g/4oz mushrooms sliced
- 200g/7oz canned chickpeas drained and rinsed
- 200g/7oz canned chopped tomatoes
- 1 tbsp water
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried thyme)
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp parmesan cheese grated
- ½ cup Greek yogurt
- ¼ tsp grated nutmeg
- salt and pepper to taste
- extra parmesan and a little dried oregano to sprinkle on top
- Preheat oven to 180C/350F/G4
- Slice the aubergine into rounds approximately 0.5cm/1/4" wide and layer in a colander with salt for 30 mins, then rinse and pat dry.
- Bring the lentils in the vegetable stock along with the bay leaf to the boil then lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes and then drain them.
- Saute the onion and garlic in 1 tbsp of the olive oil for 5 minutes.
- Add the drained lentils, mushrooms, chickpeas, tomato puree, tinned tomatoes, oregano, thyme and water - bring to the boil then lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Season the veggie mix with salt and pepper and set aside.
- Fry the aubergine slilces in the remaining tablespoon of oil for 5 minutes, flipping after 3 minutes.
- In an oven proof dish layer the aubergine slices with the vegetable mixture.
- Make the creamy topping by beating together the egg, parmesan cheese, yogur and nutmeg. Season to taste.
- Sprinkle with remaining cheese and a lilttle oregano.
- Spoon the creamy topping over the mousaka and pop the dish into the oven for 45 minutes or until golden on top.