Vegetarian Moussaka with Ricotta Topping
Yes, it is possible to make an extremely good Greek-style moussaka without meat, and even non-vegetarians will admit it tastes every bit as good.
Serve it with a large bowl of crunchy salad along with some warm pitta bread. Vegetarian ricotta and a parmesan-style cheese are available from Bookham and Harris Farms Ltd.
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This recipe is taken from Delia Smith’s Winter Collection. Serves 4-6
Begin by preparing the aubergines: to do this cut them into ½ inch (1 cm) dice leaving the skins on.
Place them in a colander, sprinkling with salt between each layer, then put a small plate with a heavy weight on top – this will draw out any excess juices. Meanwhile, pour the stock into a saucepan together with the Puy lentils (but no salt), cover and simmer for 15 minutes before adding the green lentils. Cover again and cook for a further 15 minutes, by which time most of the liquid will have been absorbed and the lentils will be soft.
While they're cooking, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large solid frying pan and fry the onions until they're soft and tinged brown at the edges (about 5 minutes), then add the chopped pepper and soften and brown that too for about another 4 minutes. Next add the garlic, cook for 1 minute more, then transfer the whole lot to a plate. Next transfer the aubergines to a clean tea cloth to squeeze them dry, then add a further 2 tablespoons of oil to the frying pan, turn the heat up to high and toss the aubergines in it so they get evenly cooked. When they're starting to brown a little, add the drained tomatoes and the onion and pepper mixture to the pan.
In a bowl mix the wine, tomato purée and cinnamon together, then pour it over the vegetables. Add the lentils and the chopped parsley, season well and let everything simmer gently while you make the topping. All you do is place the milk, flour, butter and nutmeg in a saucepan and, using a balloon whisk, whisk until it comes to simmering point and becomes a smooth glossy sauce. Season with salt and pepper, remove it from the heat and let it cool a little before whisking in the ricotta followed by the beaten egg.
Finally, transfer the vegetable and lentil mixture to the dish and spoon the cheese sauce over the top, using the back of a spoon to take it right up to the edges. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and transfer the dish to the pre-heated oven and bake on the middle shelf for 1 hour. Then allow the moussaka to rest for 15 minutes before serving.
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4, 350°F (180°C).
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