Friday night was a quiet one. A couple pals came round and we flopped into chairs at the dining table and devoured this hearty oven-baked veggie moussaka. It was a total improv but worked out stunningly. It's rich, more-ish &, to boot, it is full of wonderful nutrients and colour.
To start, we inspected the fridge to see what there was a lot of and begging to be used. Here is what was concocted . . .
Ingredients foraged and prepped:
a dollop of unsalted butter
a splodge extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion
2-3 cloves garlic
1 large eggplant, sliced and grilled
3 small zucchini or 2 large, sliced lengthways
9 x 1cm slices of jap pumpkin
2 cups roughly chopped mushrooms
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp mixed dried herbs
a generous pinch of chilli flakes
salt and pepper
1 can of chopped tomatoes & their juice
2 tblsps each of parsley, chopped
1 small handful basil leaves
1/2 cup of grated parmesan or pecorino cheese
2 free-range eggs
2/3 small tub of yogurt
1/3 cup of grated cheddar
pinch of ground nutmeg
First off, pop the sliced pumpkin into a 200 degree C oven for about 20-25 minutes, or until caramelised to your liking.
While that's happening, grill your eggplant/aubergine slices over a high flame on the stove top. I used a heavy based grill pan for this. The thinner the slices, the softer and more tender they can be after grilling.
In another pan, heat the butter and oil, add onions and garlic and allow them a few minutes cooking over high heat. When they're softened, add zucchini, allowing it to soften and colour. Add your mushrooms along with the dried herbs, smoked paprika, chilli flakes, S&P. Once they're browned and soft, pour in the tinned tomatoes plus a little water swizzled in the can to collect the remaining sauce.
Let the mixture simmer on a medium heat, and stir occasionally. Before taking the sauce off of the heat, stir in chopped parsley.
Now for the topping:
Beat the 2 eggs and whisk in the yogurt until nice and smooth. Throw in the cheddar and sprinkle in a pinch of freshly ground nutmeg. Voilà. Done!
With all components ready to assemble, start layering up like it's Wintertime.
Eggplant first - placed strategically to cover the bottom of your baking dish.
Spread over some of the tomato, zucchini, mushroom sauce and sprinkle half your parmesan.
If you have extra eggplant slices, use them for the next layer, followed by tomato sauce and cheese. Then place the sprigs of basil atop that. Cover this with the pumpkin and pour over your faux-chemel sauce (aka the yogurt topping).
Place this hefty load in the oven for at least 20 minutes. If at this time the top is coloured golden and looking firmer, the bake is ready to serve. If still on the gooey & light side, allow another 5-10 minutes longer in the oven . . . only keep your eyes peeled.
Ready for seconds!?