This time of the year seems the perfect time to serve moussaka. Summer is just around the corner (hopefully) but it’s still not warm enough to live on salad and cold dishes alone. Similar to a lasagne, yet not quiet so heavy, tucking into moussaka with some salad on the side does at least help you to envisage summer days. In fact on a warm night you might even be able to imagine you are dining on a Greek island. OK that might be stretching it but one can dream…….
So forgetting the fantasy, moussaka still makes a fabulous meal, which is good enough to share with friends. While it tastes delcious on the day it is made, it is even better when reheated the following day when the flavours have had time to develop. So it a good meal to make at the weekend when you have a bit more time and reheat on Monday evening – not that it takes that long to make anyway. I also find it a great midweek meal now that there is often just the two of us as we can eat half the day its made and the rest the following day.
An update on an old favourite
For this recipe I have taken an old recipe of mine based on a greek original which I’ve gradually updated over the last few times I’ve cooked it. Originally the aubergine was sautéed rather than baked but I have found this can soak up a lot of oil and can really up the calories of the dish. I also used to add potatoes because they were cheaper than aubergines but I think it is much nicer without them and it’s also quicker as these would need to be par boiled. I have also up’ed the amount of wine I added as it think it adds to the flavour but if you don’t want to add wine then just add water instead. And these days I like to add some ground allspice and cinnamon into the meat mixture as it helps enhance the flavour. I suspect my Greek friends might not now recognise this dish as being very authentic but its still a favourite in our household.
- About 4 tbsp olive oil or rapeseed oil
- 2 medium aubergines sliced
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic chopped
- 500 g lean minced lamb 1lb 2oz
- 100 ml red wine or water 3½fl oz
- ¼ tsp allspice
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 3 tbsp tomato purée
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
- 400 g tin chopped tomatoes
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 eggs
- 500 g Greek style natural yogurt 1lb 2oz
- pinch of nutmeg
- 75 g /3oz cheddar cheese grated
- Preheat the oven to 190℃/180℃ fan/gas mark 5. Lightly oil a baking dish.
- Brush a baking tray with a little oil then lay out the aubergine slices in a single layer, use two if one tray is not large enough. Drizzle the aubergine slices with oil, then bake for 15 minutes until just tender.
- Heat about 2 tsp of oil in a frying pan and sauté the onion for 3 to 4 minutes until beginning to soften. Add the garlic and mince and cook until browned, breaking up the mince with the side of a spoon as it cooks.
- Add the red wine and allow to bubble for a minute or two then stir in the spices, tomato purée and mint. Stir in the tomatoes and simmer for about 5 minutes. remove from the heat and season to taste.
- Lightly beat the eggs to break up then beat into the yogurt and season with a little salt, pepper and grated nutmeg.
- Arrange half the aubergine slices in the bottom of the dish. Then add the meat filling. Top with the remaining aubergine slices.
- Pour yogurt mixture over the top and sprinkle with grated cheese. Bake in the centre of the oven for 45 minutes until golden.
While delicious served immediately the flavour of moussaka improves if you cool and reheat it the following day.
Freeze for up to 6 months. Defrost fully before reheating.