Vegetarian Moussaka With Lentils & Aromatic Spices

This vegetarian moussaka recipe is a real favourite in my family. It is far lower in fat than a traditional moussaka and even my two year old daughter loves it.

It may look like it has a lot of steps but it's very easy to make. It also freezes really well for up to three months.

In fact I often make it in individual portions and freeze them. Use individual casserole dishes or disposable foil dishes for this. This vegetarian moussaka should give you four to five portions depending on how generous you are feeling.

Ingredients for the Lentil Base:

1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
250g/9oz green lentils, washed
1 400g/14oz tin of tomatoes
450mls /16fl oz/2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
2 bay leaves
2 tsp sugar
1/2 teaspoon of salt


Ingredients For The White Sauce:


25g/1oz butter
25g/1oz plain flour
450mls/16fl oz/2 cups milk
pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper 
75mls/2.5fl oz/1/3 cup natural yoghurt


Ingredients For The Moussaka Topping:


1 large aubergine (eggplant), thinly sliced to about half a centimetre or 1/4 inch
2 tablspoons of olive oil
3 tablspoons grated parmesan or any hard vegetarian cheese


First Make The Topping:

1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas6.

2. Toss the aubergine (eggplant) in a roasting tin with the olive oil and some seasoning. Roast for about 20 minutes until very soft.  If you prefer you can cook the aubergine in a pan. I just find that it's easier to throw it in the oven, especially as the oven is on to cook the moussaka anyway.

Next Make The Lentil Base:

vegetarian-moussaka

1. Fry the onion in a large saucepan till soft. Add the garlic, cinnamon and nutmeg and stir for a minute.  

2. Add the remaining sauce ingredients, bring to the boil and simmer gently for 30-40 minutes till the lentils are cooked and the sauce is thick.

You may need to add a little extra water during the cooking. Remove the bay leaves from sauce when cooked.

Now Make The White Sauce:

1. This is my quick method for white sauce. Put the milk in a microwave-safe jug and heat for about 3 minutes in the microwave until very hot.  

2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small pot or saucepan over a medium heat. 

3. Stir in the flour. Cook for a minute, stirring constantly with a whisk.

4. Slowly add in the hot milk, whisking all the time.  Keep whisking until thick.  This should only take about 1-2 minutes.

5. Remove from the heat. Add the nutmeg and some seasoning.  
When the white sauce is cooked, stir in the yoghurt.


Now Put The Moussaka Together

1. Pour the lentil sauce into a large casserole dish or into individual casserole dishes. Arrange the aubergine pieces on top of each. Pour over the white sauce then sprinkle with cheese.  (Note: You can freeze now if you like.  Just make sure the vegetarian moussaka is completely cool.  When you are ready to cook, just defrost overnight and then follow step 6)

2.  Bake for 30-40 minutes or, if you are cooking individual portions, about 20-25 minutes.  Serve with a green salad.

Some herbed roast potatoes are also really good on the side.  Take a look at my vegetable side dish recipes for some ideas.



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