Aubergine is a fairly underrated vegetable which I think is a little unfair. When cooked well it is absolutely delicious and is a fairly meaty vegetable which is great if you are looking for something to bulk up a meal.
As with many things, preparation key to making this vegetable shine. For aubergine this means cutting the vegetable as required by a recipe, place on some kitchen paper or a tea towel, sprinkle over some salt, cover and leave for 10 minutes to draw the moisture out of the vegetable. If you are using the aubergine as a layer in a dish for example as it is used in the moussaka recipe below then there this one further step that I would highly recommend – lightly oil each side of the aubergine, place under a hot grill and cook for 4-5 minutes on each side which will soften the aubergine and give it a slightly smoky taste – adding to the overall flavour of the dish.
I like to think of moussaka as a healthier version of a lasagne as aubergine replaces the pasta sheets and in this recipe the crème fraiche replaces the béchamel sauce. I would avoid using low fat crème fraiche for this recipe as it has a tendency to split and go watery. If you can’t get crème fraiche and don’t want to make a béchamel sauce then use cream cheese instead.
I would suggest serving this recipe with a green salad as this moussaka recipe is packed full of flavour and it would be a shame to overpower it. So don’t over complicate it – a rocket or watercress salad with a little French dressing is the ideal accompaniment to this dish. Enjoy!
Preparation time: 1 hour
- 250g lamb mince
- 1 onion (diced)
- 1 garlic clove (finely diced)
- 1tsp thyme
- 1tsp cinnamon
- 1tsp ground coriander
- 2tsp sweet paprika
- 1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 chicken stock cube
- 1 large aubergine
- 150ml crème fraiche
- 30-50g cheddar (grated)
- nutmeg (freshly grated)
- Preheat oven to 190°C.
- Prepare your aubergine by slicing lengthways into 3-4mm thick strips. Place the aubergine strips onto a sheet of kitchen paper sprinkle over some salt, cover with a further piece of kitchen paper – this will draw the moisture from the aubergine. After 10 minutes remove the aubergine from the kitchen paper, brush both sides with olive oil and place under a hot grill for roughly 8-10 minutes turning half way through.
- Place the onions and garlic in a frying pan with a little oil and soften on a low heat for roughly 5 minutes.
- Add the lamb mince, thyme, cinnamon, ground coriander and sweet paprika, cook until the mince has browned off stirring occasionally.
- Once browned, add the tomatoes, tomato puree and stock cube. Simmer on a medium heat for 5-10 minutes stirring occasionally. Taste and season as necessary.
- Prepare your moussaka in a 25cm deep pie dish. Place some mince in the base of the dish, cover with aubergine and repeat until the mince is used up and making sure that your last layer is aubergine.
- Cover the top layer of aubergine with crème fraiche, sprinkle over the cheese and grate over some fresh nutmeg.
- Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. Serve with a green salad.