For three summers in a row Pascal & I went to Greece - we went to Elounda, Santorini & Mykonos - I absolutely loved everything about the resorts especially the food - the feta, olives, taramasalata, vine leaves, kebabs etc….Pascal enjoyed the food for about a day and then decided he couldn't stand it…..hence why we went to Mallorca last summer.
I really want to go back to one of the Greek islands this coming summer as I think it is just beautiful, incredible sea, it's not too far away, you are guaranteed sunshine and it doesn't cost the earth like most places in France and Italy. So being the sneaky girl I am, I thought I would start sowing the seeds and what better way to do it than cooking Pascal a delicious welcome home meal of moussaka!! The start of this recipe is a bit time consuming but it is worth it.
Ingredients for 5-6 people:
2 small aubergines, trimmed at both ends and cut into 1/2cm thick slices (mine were terribly uneven)
100ml olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
500g pack of ground lamb
190g jar of red pesto sauce
10g pack of fresh oregano (I just used a tablespoon of dried)
200ml of either lamb stock or red wine
200g tub of Greek yogurt
2 eggs, beaten
150g Grana Padano, finely grated
This would be enough for 5 people on its own, however if you add a salad, it would easily feed 6.
The part of this recipe that takes the longest is cooking the aubergines unless you have an industrial size grill….I don't and have to cook about 6 slices at a time and each time takes 8 minutes each. Frying them is quicker however not as healthy so I go down the grilling route.
Anyway preheat the grill to high, line a large grill rack with foil and arrange the aubergine slices over it in a single layer. Mix the oil with a little salt and pepper and brush over the aubergines. Grill for 3-4 minutes or until golden. Turn the slices and repeat the process. Then put the aubergines to one side once all are cooked.
Next preheat the oven to 190 C / gas mark 5. Heat a wide pan, add the onion and lamb and fry gently for 10 minutes until browned. There was quite a bit of grease so I just spooned this away.
Add the pesto, oregano, red wine / stock and some freshly ground black pepper and mix together. Simmer for 2-3 minutes or until piping hot.
Arrange a third of the grilled aubergine slices in the base of a shallow ovenproof dish (it is meant to be 1.8-litre but I just use whatever I have available). They don't have to be touching or cover the bottom entirely.
Spoon around a third of the meat sauce on top.
Then more aubergine.
And so on until you have three layers of each.
Beat together the yogurt, eggs and half the cheese.
Spread this over the dish and then sprinkle over the remainder of the cheese.
Finally pop it in the oven for 40 minutes or until golden brown and piping hot.
(I did 37 minutes and it was definitely enough)! I had to leave it to cool for 5 minutes as it was bubbling like crazy. Then voila!!
Amazeballs….even if I do say so myself. Even Arabella who apparently doesn't like aubergines loved it, the red pesto is a brilliant addition and of course the cheesy top. Pascal adored it (yey)! It would work perfectly with a little Greek salad of chopped tomatoes, cucumber, sliced red onion, feta, Kalamata olives, oregano and a dressing of olive oil and lemon. In fact I think this will be my next dinner party meal!
Another great thing about this moussaka is that you can make it a day in advance, and put it in the fridge until you are ready. It also tastes fantastic the next day….I cannot wait for mine today. The diet definitely starts Monday!!