Recipe: A meat-free veggie feast

If you are looking for a meat-free dish this January, why not try out this Veggie Moussaka.
Recipe: A meat-free veggie feast

Aubergine, Courgette and Mushroom Moussaka by Di Curtin.

HAPPY New Year everyone! There can’t be many of us who are not glad to see the back of 2020. Here’s hoping 2021 will bring better days as spring begins to approach.

We’ve still a long way to go to that though. So I guess there’s not much else for it but to stay at home where possible and eat some more food!

In most households, Christmas feasting is usually based around meat, meat and more meat. But by now, every last shred of turkey and ham has been scoffed for another year, so it’s time to let the veggies shine.

My menu this week features an extremely tasty vegetable based Moussaka. Generally, this Greek speciality is made with minced lamb in a rich and fragrantly spicy tomato sauce, layered with aubergines and finished with a creamy cheese and yogurt topping which gets golden and bubbling in the oven.

For a change, I’m swapping the meat for a mix of courgette and mushrooms, still spiced with typical moussaka spices, but a lot lighter to eat. Even the most avid meat eater won’t miss the meat in this dish, it’s big on taste and texture, as well as sustaining and satisfying. Makes a great start to introducing more veggie based dishes into the diet for 2021.

AUBERGINE, COURGETTE AND MUSHROOM MOUSSAKA

Ingredients (Serves 4)

2 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for frying 

1 largish onion, peeled and finely chopped 

2 fat cloves, garlic, peeled and crushed 

1 large courgette, in small chunks 

500g mixed mushrooms (Portobello and Chestnut are good) 

½ tsp each ground cumin 

1 tsp ground coriander

2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes 

150mls vegetable stock 

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 

1 tsp dried oregano 

Few sprigs fresh thyme, leaves chopped 

2 largish aubergines, sliced 

3 tbsp thick Greek Yogurt 

2 fresh free range eggs 

25g Feta cheese, crumbled 

25g mature cheddar, grated 

Method:

  • Heat olive oil in a large frying pan and cook the onion and garlic till soft but not browned.
  • Add courgette and mushrooms and cook for a further few minutes till softening, stirring. Add spices and cook for a minute more.
  • Add chopped tomatoes and stock. Bring to bubbling. Season and stir in oregano and fresh thyme.
  • Cook over low heat, partially covered, for about 15 minutes Keep an eye on liquid levels and add a little more stock if necessary.
  • While vegetables are cooking, prepare the aubergines. Slice them thinly lengthways and pat slices dry between two clean tea towels or kitchen paper sheets.
  • Pour a thin layer of olive oil in the base of a clean non-stick frying pan and fry aubergine slices a few at a time, to brown both sides and begin to soften. Lift out with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels to drain while you cook the rest. Drain each batch on paper towels.
  • To assemble, layer a third of the aubergine slices in the base of a large ovenproof dish. Spoon over half mushroom and courgette mix.
  • Repeat with another third of aubergine slices and top with remaining mushroom and courgette mix.
  • Finish with remaining aubergine in a layer on top.
  • Whisk the yogurt and egg together and season. Pour over the top. Scatter with feta and cheddar and bake in a pre-heated oven till heated through thoroughly and top is fluffy and golden brown.

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