I've been meaning to try my hand at a vegetarian moussaka for a while and in this week's shop, there were some lovely aubergines, so I bought some. I had intended to make this earlier in the week, but there were some urgent gardening activities required, so I kept putting it off.
This time, I decided to do this on my own, without consulting with my Mum or the internet and to be honest, the gamble payed off this time. This morning I was thinking about the film Julie & Julia for some reason, I'm not sure why and I came to think of boeuf bourguignon. A bourguignon is a fairly simple dish to do, you chuck things in a pot and bake for a while, but you can go to the trouble of following the Julia Child recipe and you end up with something amazing. This got my head milling - a moussaka is also a fairly simple dish, would it make a difference to work along the same lines as Julia Child? It turns out that it does matter, so before I forget what I did, I'm writing up the recipe.
2 x 400 g cans of black-eyed beans in water
400 g button mushrooms
3 medium aubergines
1 medium onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 large courgette
1 x 400 g choped tomatoes
500 g boiled waxy potatoes
1 tbsp tomato purée
1 tbsp fresh thyme
3 tbsp fresh parsley
1 tbsp dried dill
1 tbsp dried savory
1 tbsp sweet paprika
salt and pepper 3 tbsp plain flour
3 - 4 dl semi-skimmed milk
3 large eggs
- Drain and rinse the beans, then place in a pressure cooker, add water to cover some 5 cm above the level of beans and boil under pressure for 30 minutes. Leave in the pot until required.
- Wash and trim the aubergines, then slice to 1 cm thickness. Butter a round deep baking dish of 30 cm diameter and 5 cm deep.
- Peel and slice the mushrooms. Peel and dice the onion. Peel the garlic. Dice the potatoes into 1 cm pieces.
- Dry-fry the aubergines in a frying pan on high heat until they soften, then use half of them to line the baking dish, while keeping the rest separate.
- Now turn down the heat to medium and dry-fry the mushrooms in the same pan, but sprinkle with salt to help release their liquid. Once they start going dry, add about 10 g butter and stir through, then set aside.
- Continuing in the same frying pan, melt some 15 g butter and fry the onion. Press in the garlic and stir regularly to avoid burning them. Set aside once they are translucent.
- While the onions are frying, trim and peel the courgette, then slice to ½ cm thickness and cut each slice into 1 cm squares.
- Once the onions are done, change to a large casserole dish, bring the heat to medium-high and melt some 30 g butter until it starts bubbling.
- Add the courgette, sprinkle a little salt over it and fry until it begins to soften, stirring regularly. In the meantime, drain the beans well.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 °C fan.
- Once the courgette begins to soften, add the beans, mushrooms, onion, the chopped tomatoes, tomato purée and all the herbs, salt and pepper and stir everything together.
- Remove from the heat and transfer to the baking dish and level off. Arrange the remaining aubergine slices on top.
- Place the casserole dish on high heat and melt about 30 g butter. Measure up the flour and add salt and pepper to it.
- Once it bubbles, add the flour and stir vigorouslly with a wooden spoon.
- After about a minute, begin to add the milk, a little at a time and stirring constantly to make sure it doesn't burn. Keep adding milk until it becomes a thick batter.
- Remove from the heat and swap the wooden spoon for a balloon whisk. Add one egg at a time and whisk into the batter mixture until it's smooth, then pour the topping over the aubergines in the baking dish.
- Bake for 30 - 35 minutes until the topping puffs up a bit and goes golden brown.
A comment on the beans - it doesn't really matter what type are used, but as I've bought the full range of canned beans for Lundulph, he asked me to use the black-eyed ones in particular as these seem to be a bit on the crunchy side, even though they are canned. Other beans are less so. So this step could probably be skipped if using another type of bean.
As I was transferring the mixture into the baking dish, I realised that I'd forgotten the 3 small carrots I intended to include. They would probably have been nice to have there too.
Looking at the photos, it looks like a moussaka, but the insides are somewhat more like a weird gyuvetch. Still I'm very pleased with the result. Lundulph's comment was that it was very nicely filling and he could have gone for seconds, but decided not to, probably leaving room for some chocolate. Though if he could choose between this one and a regular moussaka with meat, he'd go for the meat alternative. He did say that it would have been nice to have some additional vegetables on the side, perhaps a salad or such like.