Alex Mackay's Individual Lentil “Moussaka” with Chilli & Orange
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I’ve always thought moussaka would quite fancy reinventing itself as a vegetable dish and this one is so tasty that even the staunchest meat eater won’t miss the mince. If you’ve made the traditional version you’ll love my easy aubergines and cheese sauce. The sauce works for this recipe but it would be no good to heat and serve as a pouring sauce as it would separate.
These are not strictly individual portions but the fact they are slightly separate makes them easier to serve. Please don’t worry if they collapse a little or the lentils spill out the sides. In a way it suits them, makes them look a little rakish, less like the restaurant towers of my dearly departed youth. Oh how I loved to stack and stack, the higher the better, I’m not sure I’ve grown out of it either, just seeing an aubergine makes me want to stack it on the spot.
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From Delia's Food and Wine Workshop, recipe by Alex Mackay Serves 2 generously or 4 with a salad on the side
Prep Ahead: The whole thing can be put together, ready to bake, up to 1 day ahead.
1. Pre-heat your oven to 230c/Gas 8 Upper Middle Shelf.
2. Start with the aubergine. Cut it in half lengthways. Put the cut side down on your chopping board. Cut 2 long, even slices from each half. Get a baking tray. Line it with a non-stick sheet. Lay the aubergine slices on top in a single layer. Brush the slices all over both sides with 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil and the vinegar. Season with salt, black pepper and nutmeg. The pepper is there for a bit of heat and the nutmeg for fragrance. Be careful with the nutmeg as it can easily overpower the other flavours; I like to be just aware that it is there. Bake for 12-15 minutes until the flesh is soft.
3. While the aubergine bakes, Peel and dice the onion finely (1cm). De-seed and dice the pepper. Slice the garlic.
4. Get a medium sized, shallow saucepan. Add the diced onion and pepper, sliced garlic, 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil and the water. Cover and sweat the onions, without browning them, for 6-8 minutes until they are soft and sweet smelling.
5. Add the vegetable stock, Puy lentils, raisins, tomato puree and soy sauce. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat slightly and simmer rapidly for about 5 minutes until you have a thick but still saucy texture.
6. Get a small bowl. Add the orange zest, chilli and coriander. Mix together. Add half of this the orange zest mixture and 2 tbsp orange juice to the saucy lentils. Season to taste with salt, sugar and freshly ground black pepper.
7. Next make the “cheese sauce”. Get a medium sized bowl. Add the mascarpone and cheddar. Mix together. Season to taste.
8. Put the two aubergine slices with skin on, skin side down, on an oven proof dish with slightly raised sides. Spoon half the lentils evenly across each slice; don’t worry if some fall over the edge. Put the second slice of aubergine on top. Spread the cheese sauce over the top. Bake uncovered for 18-20 minutes until the top is golden. Once they’re ready, sprinkle the second half of the orange zest mixture over the top. Put them back into the oven for 1 minute.