Vegetarian Moussaka with Grana Padano 'Cheats' Cheese Sauce
GRANA PADANO SPONSORED INGREDIENT RECIPE COLLECTION
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 ever made the traditional version you'll love the delicious simplicity of my easy aubergines and cheese sauce. The sauce works brilliantly for this recipe but not 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!
Serves 4; Preparation time: 30 minutes; Cooking time: 40 minutes; Difficulty: Easy
1. Pre-heat your oven to 230°C/Gas 8/Rack position top and middle shelves.
2. Start with the aubergines. Cut them in half lengthways. Put the cut side down on your chopping board. Cut 2 long, even slices from each half. Get a large baking tray with low sides. Line it with a non-stick sheet. Lay the aubergine slices on top in a single layer. Mix 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil with the vinegar in a jug. Brush the aubergine slices all over both sides with the oil and vinegar mixture. 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's there. Bake in your pre-heated oven for 18-20 minutes until the flesh is soft and golden.
3. While the aubergines bake, make the lentil mixture. Get a medium sized, shallow saucepan. Add the diced onion, sliced garlic, 2 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. Add the vegetable stock, Puglia 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.
4. Get a small bowl. Add the orange zest, chilli and parsley. Mix together. Add half of the orange zest mixture and the orange juice to the saucy lentils. Season to taste with salt, sugar and freshly ground black pepper.
5. Next make the "cheese sauce". Get a medium sized bowl. Add the mascarpone and Grana Padano. Mix together. Season to taste.
6. Put the 4 aubergine slices with skin on, skin side down, in one or 2 oven proof dish(es). (I do 2 in each of 2 rectangular dishes that I have). Spoon a quarter of the lentils evenly across each slice; don't worry if some fall over the edge. Put the other 4 slices of aubergine on top. Spread the Grana Padano cheese sauce over the top. Bake uncovered for 18-20 minutes until the top is golden.
7. 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. Serve.