|Puy Lentil and Aubergine Moussaka|
This recipe will fill a deep 12"x 10" ovenproof dish serving 4 people.
Ingredients:4 Large Aubergines
10 Tablespoons Olive Oil
250g Dried Puy Lentils
100g Grated Hard Cheese
For the Tomato Sauce:
1 Large White Onion - chopped
10 Ripe Tomatoes - quartered
1 Handful Fresh Mint Leaves - washed and finely chopped
1 Handful of Fresh Parsley (leaves and fine stalks are ok) - washed and finely chopped
2 Garlic Cloves - finely chopped
5 Bay Leaves
1 Heaped Teaspoons Cinnamon
2 Teaspoons Dried Oregano
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
For the Bechamel:
1/2 Small onion
1 Bay Leaf
1 Cinnamon Stick
1 Garlic Clove (Crushed)
Half a grated Nutmeg
6 Whole Black Peppercorns
1 Pint of Organic Milk
40g Organic Butter
20g Plain Organic Flour
Nb. If you prefer, the bechamel can also be made vegan by substituting olive oil for butter and soya milk for cows milk and following the instructions below. The cheese can also be left out at the end.
Method:1. First up, prepare the aubergines. Wash them and slice into 1 inch rounds and throw them in the greased oven dish, brushing well with olive oil. Bake them in the oven for around 30 minutes at 180C until soft turning them after 15 minutes.
2. Rinse the puy lentils well in fresh water then bring to the boil in a large saucepan of water and simmer for around 25 minutes until tender. Drain well when done.
3. Next up is the tomato sauce. Fry off the chopped onions in olive oil until soft, then add in the garlic for a further 2 minutes. The tomatoes can now be added with half a tsp of sea salt and simmered on a medium heat for around 15 minutes until the tomatoes begin to soften and release their juices.
4. Add in the remaining herbs and spices to the tomato sauce and allow to simmer for a further 15 minutes on a low heat.
5. The next step is to blend your tomato sauce to a rich pulp - we find a hand blender easiest, but don't forget to pull out the bay leaves first!
6. Your puy lentils should be cooked and drained by now so add them to the tomato sauce and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste as well here.
7. Now for the fun part. Your aubergines should be nicely cooked and soft and your tomato and lentil sauce rich and delicious so we can begin layering up the moussaka. First make sure the oven dish is well oiled then spread out one layer of cooked aubergines.
8. Next add a layer of the sauce using a ladle and spreading it well over the aubergines with a spatula.
9. Repeat the process with another layer of aubergines followed by tomato sauce.
10. Once this is done, pop the dish in the oven uncovered for about 30 minutes at 180C.
11. For the bechamel, add the onion, garlic, peppercorns, nutmeg, cinnamon and bay leaf to the milk and slowly bring to the boil in a small saucepan. Once it reaches boiling point, take it off the heat and cover to allow the milk to absorb the flavours for around 20 minutes.
12. In a larger saucepan melt the butter over a low heat and then add the flour and mix to form a roux ball. Slowly add in the warm milk and whisk constantly until you have a thick creamy white sauce. Finally season with a little sea salt.
13. Now take the moussaka out of the oven and pour the bechamel evenly over the top. As you can see, it doesn't need to be perfect! Pop it back in the oven for another 20 minutes.
14. After the 20 minutes is up and the bechamel has started to brown a little, you can add the grated cheese to the top of the moussaka and cook for a final 10 minutes until it has melted and begun to bubble.
15. Garnish with cracked black pepper and enjoy!