A Long-Awaited Lentil Moussaka


There’s a friend of mine who’s been asking me for my lentil moussaka recipe for months now. Tonight, I finally gave in, and figured I might as well share with You Lot as well. Also, it’ll make up for my having posted a non-veggie recipe earlier today, right?

This is a rather edited version of a recipe for lentil moussaka that I found in a Hare Krishna recipe book- the one you can get for around €2.50 in any of the Govinda’s restaurants around Dublin. Edited because they don’t use garlic or onions, and also because my cheese sauce is totally nicer than theirs. Measurements are, I’m afraid, either in imperial or Dollop. So here goes!

Rather Tasty Lentil Moussaka

You’ll need:

  • 3 or 4 aubergines/eggplants, sliced about 1.5cm thick.

For the lentils:

  • 2 cups lentils. They say brown lentils, but I normally use a mix of red and green. Or just whatever I have lying about.
  • Some chopped onion and garlic. However much seems like a good idea.
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • olive oil

For the cheese sauce:

(this one doesn’t have measurements, because I never measure. Dollops will have to do)

  • A good chunk of butter- about two or three tablespoons, heaped.
  • Enough flour to get that to a consistency where it’s still bunching together, but not greasy. To make this gluten-free, just use a gluten-free flour here.
  • Milk- a few cups. Enough to get the sauce to a reasonably thin consistency before putting in the cheese. But not too thin. Like tomato soup thickness, I guess?
  • Grated cheese. I like to use a few different types of cheese for this. I normally have some combination of gouda, edam, cheddar and parmesan lying around, and they’re all lovely. And you want.. enough. Keep grating until it’s nice.
  • Seasonings: I like some combination of nutmeg, soy sauce, worcestershire sauce, and mustard. The nutmeg would go in with the flour, and the rest can just go in whenever. Check the ingredients on your seasonings if you’re gluten-free or veggie! Lea & Perrins worcestershire sauce contains fish, but you can get veggie versions that are just as yummy.
Boiling lentils.

Some things are far tastier than they look.

The first thing to do depends on what kind of lentils you’re using. If they’re the kind that need soaking or an awful lot of boiling? That goes first. Seriously. Quit reading this and get them in some boiling water now if you want to have this moussaka before next year. But if you just have split red lentils, then get the oven on and start roasting some aubergine slices. I normally have enough to fill up two or three trays, depending on how thinly they’re sliced. You can grill them or roast them. I prefer to roast, though. You can do two trays at once, and it’s a little more forgiving when you’re doing three other things at once and forget to check them for a few minutes.

So pop the aubergines on a tray and into a reasonably hot oven until soft. Try not to forget about them.

Layering aubergines on a baking dish

You haven't forgotten them and let them burn, have you?

Next comes the lentil sauce. Start off by boiling the lentils in plain unsalted water until they’re nice and squishy. (If this is the kind of thing that’ll take a while, then you can skip down to the cheese sauce bit while you’re waiting.)

Once the lentils are squishy, drain them and set them aside. Put the oil, onion and garlic in a pan over a medium heat, and cook gently until soft. Add the tomatoes, and then all of the other lentil sauce ingredients. Simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally, for about ten or fifteen minutes until it thickens. Set aside. Also, you haven’t forgotten to check the aubergines, have you?

Cheese sauce

It's a pity that consistency isn't apparant from pictures, really.

Now it’s time to make the cheese sauce. For this, you first put the butter into a pan that’s on a moderate heat. When it’s completely melted, add the flour, stirring all the time (and the nutmeg, if you’re using some). Keep it on the heat as you add the milk slowly, little by little, and don’t stop stirring. At all. If your arm doesn’t hurt, you’re doing it wrong. Once you have the sauce to a nice, relatively thin consistency, grate the cheeses in, then stir some more. Pop in the other seasonings, and stir some more. It’s done when it’s tasty. Oh, and if you have a second between stirring, you are checking the aubergines to make sure they’re not burned, right?

Assembling moussaka in a baking tray

Before anything close to enough cheese sauce had been applied.

After all that? Time to put it all together. Leave the oven on at about 180 degrees (Celcius!) after you take out the aubergines. Place half of the aubergines on the base of a baking dish. Cover them with half of the lentil sauce. Layer the rest of the aubergines on top, and the lentil sauce on top of that. Finally, pour the delicious, delicious cheese sauce on top of all of it. Bake the moussaka for about 50 minutes, or until it’s nicely browned, and you’re done! It’s delicious with loads of different kinds of sides- leafy green crunchy things give a nice contrast, potato and root veggie wedges are nyommy dunked into all the moussaka sauces, petits pois are excellent.

Enjoy!

nyomnyomnyom

Unfortunately I was too busy stuffing myself to remember to take photos of the finished moussaka. You'll have to make do with this.

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