Saturday, 28 April 2012

An Unauthentic Moussaka

One of my wife's favourite ingredients is aubergine so when two turned up in this week's vegetable box I came up with this recipe to make the best of them. I also still have a glut of beetroot so added a couple of grated beetroot into the sauce to make it go further.

Serves 5-6

2 Large Aubergines sliced length ways about 5mm thick
500g minced lamb
2 medium raw beetroot grated coarsely
1 can of chopped tomatoes
1 large onion finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1 teaspoon dried thyme or oregano

Olive oil

1 pint milk
1 large knob of butter
1 tablespoon plain flour
100g blue cheese

2 sheets of dried lasagne 

1 ball of mozzarella

Fry the onion in a little olive oil until soft. Add the garlic and minced lamb and fry until the lamb is no longer pink. Add the beetroot and herbs and fry for a few minutes. Add the tomatoes, tomato purée and a splash or red wine or water to loosen the sauce if needed. Season with salt and pepper then simmer the sauce for 20-30 minutes while you prepare the aubergines.

In a bowl coat each slice of aubergine with olive oil ad season with salt and pepper, then fry off in batches. It is easier this way to control the amount of olive oil otherwise the aubergine soaks up a lot of oil. Fry each side until browned (about 2-3 minutes on each side).

Make a cheese sauce with the milk, butter, flour and cheese. The method I use is to put all the milk, flour and butter in a saucepan and heat until all the butter has melted and the sauce has come together - you will need to stir pretty much constantly. Add the blue cheese (or strong cheddar) and stir until the cheese has melted and the sauce has thickened. Season to taste.

In a large rectangular dish put in half of the tomato and mince sauce. Layer over half of the aubergine slices. Pour over half the cheese sauce. Add the sheets of lasagne (I use these to separate the cheese and meat sauces and to give a bit of structure to the dish). Repeat the meat, aubergine and cheese layers then top with the mozzarella torn into shreds.

Cook in a moderate oven for 30 minutes or until t top is golden brown and starting to crisp at the edges. Serve with a green vegetable or salad. Leftovers are even better the second day!