Re-Imagined Moussaka

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I did a sneaky thing when making this re-imagined moussaka. Yes, I’m capable of stretching a meal with stuff not yet used in the fridge and freezer.

Here’s what went down…

It always starts with a “ what do you feel like for supper?” conversation.  It goes back and forth like a Wimbledon rally, until one of us smashes it into the corner, firmly settled. 

An excuse for a Greek salad, maybe a whisper of the Mediterranean influence brought olive oil, Bragg’s apple cider vinegar and dried origanum together in a way that had the humble tomatoes blushing together with the olives and the feta cheese and a few torn basil leaves. I think they were embarrassed to be tossed together so fast.  I was lambasted for not pitting the olives. Okay, maybe an exaggeration, but I was in a hurry as usual and thought it was better use of my time pitting my own than everyone’s. Everyone being Brian and I. 

But this preamble isn’t the sneaky thing I did. I had leftover mince in the freezer along with a batch of béchamel sauce and 2 brinjals (aubergine, eggplant) in the fridge. The ingredients are shouting moussaka and I’m hearing them along with the baby marrows that need to be used before they grow into strange little science experiments.

When I opened the container of frozen mince there was enough for 2 people to enjoy as spaghetti bolognaise, but definitely not enough for the aubergines to be turned into moussaka. I’m not a fairy godmother! A while back I had enthusiastically cooked up a batched of brown lentils, full of good intentions of turning them into burger patties or some such healthy, plant forward food choice. I just wasn’t feeling it. I would have to really work hard to convince Brian that these burgers are the way to go. And, I knew the expectation was a step too far for me to reach. Brian doesn’t like lentils, no matter what I do to them. So, neglected and half forgotten, the lentils stayed in the bottom drawer of the freezer.

When life gives you lentils

Presented with half a tub of cooked mince and remembering the neglected lentils, I conspired to risk it. I surreptitiously mixed the two together and tasted the blend. It was great cold and seasoned and I just knew, mixed with the other ingredients, Brian would never guess. I went about assembling the dish and at the allotted dinnertime hour, I presented Brian with this re-imagined moussaka. “Oh, this is good” he uttered between hot mouthfuls. After more tasting and enjoying I thought it safe to let the cat escape. “I did a sneaky thing” I admitted. He glance up, fork halfway to his mouth, and stopped to glare at me. Immediately suspicious of what I was about to reveal, he asked “what did you do”. Seeing his reaction, I decided to ask him what he thought I did? He finished the forks journey to his mouth, now concentrating on what was different. Doubting the previous deliciousness he had just experienced made no sense and yet I could see the cogs of reason chugging along for an answer. “ah, you added courgettes” he exclaimed rather pleased with himself for the discovery. “Yes, you are right, but that’s not THE SNEAKY THING!”

Perplexed, flummoxed and frustrated, I put him out of his misery and told him about the lentils. He was amazed, and still doubtful, went in search of evidence.

I definitely will use lentils to stretch mince in the future. This was an excellent way to introduce an healthful alternative to my meat-eating husband without his scrutiny and criticism of previously formed and strongly entrenched beliefs about vegetarian based eating choices. I didn’t document the entire process with my usual photo capturing because I didn’t think it would make it into a post. The photo’s I do have are a bit bleh!!!, but you get the idea I hope.

If you want to enjoy the real deal moussaka check out my Robert Carrier’s version You can also find the perfect way to make the cheesy béchamel sauce in the same recipe.

Re-Imagined Moussaka

Servings 6 portions

Ingredients

  • 500 g pre-prepared bolognaise style mince AKA leftover mince
  • 1 cup cooked lentils
  • 2 medium-sized aubergine sliced into rounds
  • ½ onion optional but tasty
  • Olive oil to coat vegetables in air fryer
  •  250g baby marrow cut in half lengthwise
  • 500ml pre-prepared béchamel sauce
  • 200g grated cheese of choice
  • 4 jâlapëno pepper chopped 2 caps
  • Salt & pepper, nutmeg, dried origanum

Instructions

  • Pre heat oven to 180ºC
    Spray and season the sliced aubergines with olive oil, salt and pepper. Pre heat air fryer to 200°c and bake in 2 batches for 12 minutes per batch. Shake and turn halfway. I had half a onion leftover from our lunch so I added that to the air fryer too at the same time. Waste not want not!
  • Spray the sliced baby marrow with olive oil and season with salt and pepper and bake in preheated air fryer at 200° C for 12 min. Shake and turn halfway 
  • In a baking dish 20cm x 30cm line the base with half the aubergines. Here I add the cooked onion petals in between the aubergines Spread half the mince and lentil mix on top then pour over half the béchamel sauce. Top with half the cheese add a sprinkle of origanum and freshly grated nutmeg
  • Next layer repeat but now add the baby marrow on top of the aubergine.
  • Bake at 180 for 1 hour
    Rest for 10 min
    Serve with chopped jâlapëno peppers 1 tsp apple cider vinegar salt and pepper and a few glugs of olive oil
    Chopped tomatoes, feta, olives salad also great
Course: Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: Greek inspired

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