I'm a huge moussaka fan, which shouldn't come as too much of a surprise considering my love for middle eastern food and my strong Arab roots.
Although I love the classic version, which is made with mince meat, I am all for switching things up every now and then. Especially when it's better for our health and the planet.
In this recipe I used aubergine and lentil as a replacement for the usual minced beef. Lentil's make a good plant protein source and aubergines just take me back to all the mouthwatering Mediterranean food I love to eat. Have a go at this one, it was delicious!
160g red lentils
650g potatoes, scrubbed
1 tsp olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 sprigs thyme, leaves picked
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp tomato purée
400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 vegetable stock cube
½ tsp sea salt
2 large aubergines, thinly sliced
2 tbsp roughly chopped flat leaf parsley
250g/9oz ricotta cheese
50g/1¾oz mature cheddar, grated
freshly ground black pepper
rocket leaves to garnish
1) Preheat your oven to 200c/180c fan/Gas 6
2) Soak the red lentils in a bowl by covering them in water and leaving aside.
3) Cover the potatoes with water in a saucepan and bring it to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 18 minutes until just tender.
4) Heat the olive oil in a large pan, then add the onions and cook for 5-6 minutes over a medium heat for 6 minutes until just softening.
5) Add the garlic, oregano, thyme and cinnamon, cook for a couple of minutes, then stir in the tomato purée. Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper then add 400ml of water to the pan with the stock cube.
6) Drain the lentils and stir them into the pan with the tomato sauce. Bring to the boil, then simmer over a medium heat for until the lentils are soft and the sauce is less runny.
7) While waiting, drain the potatoes, run under cold water until cool enough to touch, Using a spoon, scrape the skin off of the potatoes, then cut into slices about 7mm/⅜in thick and set aside (if using new potatoes, keep the skin on).
8) Heat a griddle pan until hot, then griddle the aubergine in batches until browned and softened.
9) Spoon half the lentil sauce into a medium ovenproof dish then layer half the potatoes and aubergines over the top. Top with the remaining lentils, potatoes and aubergines.
10) Put the ricotta into a small bowl and stir in the grated cheese. Spoon the mixture over the aubergines and smooth out to cover the top.
11) Bake in the oven for 20–25 minutes, or until heated through and golden brown.
12) Serve with fresh rocket, and a drizzle of balsamic glaze for some extra sweet and tanginess.