You’ll have realised by now that I’m not a fan of Quorn or any kind of fake meat or mince. It just creeps me out a bit – I mean, what’s in it?? I prefer to avoid ‘fake’ foods (I have quite an inconsistent and individual interpretation of what’s ‘fake’, I have to warn you) and so I like to make vegetarian alternatives with veggies, lentils, nuts, beans or cheese in preference to meat substitutes.
The best lentils for this moussaka are Puy lentils or ‘lentilles verts’, not green, brown or red lentils (see my post on lentil lasagne, it’s basically the same idea). The lentils are cooked with onions, (lots of) garlic, cinnamon and oregano in a thick tomatoe based sauce, before being layered with roasted aubergine slices and topped with a creamy topping. You can use just a plain bechamel but the thicker egg topping is better. I would probably make more of the topping next time (but still only use one egg) as there was only just enough and it was a little eggy. So I’ve scaled the milk, flour and butter up by 100% in the recipe, for a thicker, creamier topping.
Apart from that, this dish was so close to perfection. I’m not even exaggerating. It’s like summer on a plate and we both loved it. It was also strangely filling for a dish with no meat and no carbs/starches. I had worried that I should do some chips or something for Dave but we were both stuffed afterwards with just the moussaka and a green salad!
In case you’re wondering, I used my loaf tin because it was the perfect shape and size for a two person moussaka.
Lentil Moussaka (serves 2)
- 125g Puy lentils or lentilles verts
- 2 small onions, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tin chopped tomatoes
- 1 large aubergine, cut into not-too-thick slices
- 1 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
For the topping
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp cornflour
- 350ml milk
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1 egg, beaten
Firstly, preheat the oven to 200C. Brush the slices of aubergine with a little vegetable oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for around 20 minutes, or until the slices are tender without being mushy.
While the aubergines are cooking, put the lentils on to boil as per packet directions – I think I left mine for about 20 minutes. They can be very slightly underdone as they will cook further in the sauce.
Meanwhile, heat the rest of the oil in a pan and gently cook the onions for a few minutes until soft. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute or two, then add the tomatoes, cinnamon and oregano to the pan. Allow to simmer until thick and rich, seasoning as required. If your tomatoes are especially bitter, you can add a little sugar, though I didn’t need to. When the lentils are cooked, drain them and add to the tomato sauce, which will be very thick once they are mixed in.
Make the topping by melting the butter over a low heat in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat, mix in the cornflour to make asmooth paste, then add the milk and whisk in thoroughly. Cook over a medium heat for several minutes, stirring or whisking continuously, until it makes a smooth, thick sauce. Stir in the nutmeg and remove from the heat. Allow to cool for a bit before whisking in the beaten egg, to avoid the egg cooking in the heat of the sauce.
Make sure the oven is heated to about 180C for the final step. Smooth half the lentil sauce into the bottom of your loaf tin / oven dish, layer with half the aubergine, then repeat, to finish with a layer of aubergine. Top with the white sauce and bake for around 30 minutes, until piping hot throughout and browned on top. Serve with a side salad.