Aubergine and Courgette Moussaka

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My family absolutely love this dish and I am sure you will too. When I use Aubergines in a Curry, I will be reminded of how much my family dislikes them in a Curry, so tend to make dishes with vegetables, I know they will happily eat. At the dinner table the topic of where this dish originates from, is guaranteed to come up and why it is called so. And as usual, our young adults come up with their own whacky answers, making our meal time very interesting. If you wish to know the real answer, here is the link: Moussaka.

Well what can be more delightful, than using your own grown organic Aubergine and other vegetables, to make this comforting dish.

This Greek dish is traditionally made with Lamb mince, layered with slices of Aubergine and topped with Béchamel sauce. Being the summer season here, with plenty of fresh organic vegetables from the allotment, I have decided to use a combination of Aubergine and Courgette slices as the layers.

Quorn Mince can be used for the vegetarian option and the process is exactly the same.

The process of making and building this dish is quick, explaining it, may take a moment:

Mince Sauce: 

  • I have used 500g of Lean Lamb Mince, first browned off in a little olive oil, set aside. Next into the same pan add a Mirepoix of 2 medium sized Onion and 1 each of Carrot and celery stick cooking gently with 2 fresh Bay leaves, 5 cloves of crushed Garlic and a teaspoon of chilli flakes. Do not brown this base of vegetables, gently soften it. This can take 15 to 20 minutes. 
  • Add the browned mince to the vegetable base, with 1 tablespoon of flour, cook through the flour for about 5 minutes. Roughly chop a bunch of fresh herbs from the garden; Parsley, Oregano, Thyme and a little Rosemary adding to the mince mixture. Once all water has evaporated add 175ml (about a wine glass amount) of good Red Wine, with 4 freshly blitzed plum tomatoes and a tablespoon of tomato puree.
  • As this starts to thickens add 300ml of good quality stock. Allow to cook for a further 45 minutes over a gentle heat, checking and stirring occasionally.
  • Add Salt and Pepper to taste.

Béchamel Sauce: 
When making this sauce you do not want to take your eyes or hands off. Trust me this sauce needs full and undivided attention from beginning right till the end, I learnt a very hard lesson, the first time I made this sauce.

  • Start with the Roux; Place 75g of butter in a warming pan with 3 tablespoon of plain flour and whisk continuously over a medium to low heat for no more than 5 minutes (approximately) or until the flour is cooked through. Gently add 400ml of warm milk a little at a time and whisk constantly to avoid any lumps in the roux. Into this sauce, grate some nutmeg and a little white pepper. As soon as the sauce starts to thicken add a little grated cheddar cheese, and whisk until melted in evenly. Allow to cool a little before whisking in 1 beaten egg. Set aside.

Vegetable Layers:
Note: I do not salt the vegetable slices first to remove excess water, just slice and fry or griddle them.

  • Slice both Aubergine and Courgette  lengthways to a desired thickness (mine are 5mm thick) and gently shallow fry in Olive Oil or griddle on both sides. Do so in batches and pat them dry of excess oil over a paper towel.
Assemble the Moussaka:

Start with a layer of meat sauce at the bottom of a deep oven proof dish. Followed by a layer of tightly packed Aubergine slices. Add another layer of meat sauce, this time followed by a layer of tightly packed Courgette slices. Place the meat sauce for the last time and a layer of Aubergine slices and top the whole dish with the Béchamel sauce and place into a preheated oven of 180˙C and cook for 30 to 45 minutes or until the top of the Moussaka is golden brown.
Remove from the oven and allow to sit for at least 30 minutes before serving with flash fried Padron peppers and diced Costoluto Fiorentino (Beefsteak) Tomato with a fresh Basil Oil dressing.
Enjoy x

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