We haven't cooked this dish for many years but the minute the aromas filled the kitchen air both of us started reminiscing about the flavours we remembered. I think the last time we cooked this was in 2009, maybe, to be honest I am not 100% sure except that it has been a very long time. Well one thing I do know I blogged this recipe in 2009, check it out here (no laughing at how primitive my earlier blogs were please). In all reality it's possibly 11 years to the month that I probably cooked this last (rolls eyes).
Moussaka is an eggplant, sometimes potato slices can be used, which often has ground meat as one of it's ingredient, that is said to be from the Levant, Middle East, Greece, and Balkans. However if you take the time to google the origins of this dish you will find many different versions from many different countries. Basically the same as with all recipes from all countries - everyone has their version that's been handed down generation to generation which of course is the true way to make a recipe. Trust me it happens in our family - even with us having both Welsh and English heritage.
Let's put it out there - these purple egg shaped beauties not only have smooth and shiny skin but also have many health benefits. Eggplant is rich in antioxidants, a good source of dietary fibre, contain vitamin B6 and folate not to mention low in calories. Fun fact - not only are eggplants fruits, they're technically classified as a berry.
Many recipes call for eggplants to be salted and rinsed to draw out any bitter juices. If your eggplant is fresh this shouldn’t be necessary. If I need to cook the eggplant prior to cooking I tend to either use the BBQ or the grill. You could even oven bake - depending on the desired outcome you are aiming for. Cut into required shape (ie slices) spray with cooking spray and BBQ or grill until nice browned. No need to make this overcomplicated, right?
So what's the deal with Moussaka? I guess you could say that Moussaka in somewhat like a lasagna but without the pasta. Eggplant slices are used instead of the pasta. The herbs and spices are different to that of a bolognaise sauce but both dishes are tradtitionally finished off with a thick béchamel sauce and a sprinkle of cheese.
Here's the deal - this is our version of a lighter and healthier version of Moussaka. Lamb mince is the meat of choice for Moussaka however you can use beef, veal or even chicken if you prefer. Chicken would obviously reduce the fat content further but it all depends what flavour you are wanting to achieve. We prefer lamb. The meat is cooked with onions and a mix of garlic, cinnamon and lemon brought together with tomatoes and laced with the sweeteness of currants. The chargrilled eggplant slices are layered alternatively with the meat sauce and then topped with a lighter version of white sauce (similar to béchamel) and sprinkled with a small amount of low fat tasty cheese.
To be honest, eggplants (or aubergines) are not everyone's cup of tea, as is the case in our household. Our son loves eggplant however our daughter has never been a fan. Well that is until tonight where she actually ate a full serve of this Moussaka - claiming it's not how she remembered the dish or the flavours. Oh how are tastebuds change as we get older!
(recipe adapted from Super Food Ideas June 2006)
💚 11sp per serve
💙 11sp per serve
💜 11sp per serve
2 large eggplant, thinly sliced
1 brown onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
500 grams lamb mince
1 x 400g tinned diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons currants, optional
rind of 1 lemon, finely grated
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons low fat butter or margarine
2 tablespoons plain flour
1 2/3 cups skim milk
pinch of ground nutmeg
1/4 cup low fat grated tasty cheese
Preheat oven to 180 deg C.
Preheat grill. Spray eggplant with cooking spray and grill for 2 to 3 minutes each side or until browned.
Spray a large frying pan with cooking spray and heat over a medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, for 3 to 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Add garlic, cinnamon and mince. Cook, breaking up the mince, for 5 minutes or until browned. Add tomatoes, currants, lemon rind and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for a further 5 minutes.
Melt butter in a saucepan over a medium heat. Add flour. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Remove from heat, pour in milk, whisking constantly. Return to heat. Cook, stirring for 5 to 8 minutes or until sauce comes to the boil. Stir in the nutmeg. Remove from heat.
Spray a large ovenproof dish (approx 5cm deep 16cm x 25cm) with cooking spray and layer half the eggplant slices into the base.
Spoon over half the mince mixture.
Top with remainding eggplant and then the remaining mince mixture.
Pour the white sauce mixture evenly over the top of the mince mixture.
Sprinkle with cheese.
Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until piping hot. Allow to stand for 10 minutes prior to serving.
Serve with a 0 sp salad.
Απολαμβάνω - Enjoy!