This is just the type of wintry comfort I’m needing right now. It is a bit of a process, but this recipe will feed a crowd. If you prefer, halve or even quarter the recipe and layer the moussaka in small gratin dishes for individual serves.
1 tbs olive oil
1 red onion
2 cloves garlic
1 x 700g bottle tomato passata
1 cinnamon stick
1 pinch dried oregano
freshly ground pepper
pinch of sugar (to taste)
Vegetables ( you can use any combination of vegetables you choose, just as long eggplants and potatoes are in the mix)
6 starchy potatoes, peeled
3 eggplants, sliced in lengths (about 1cm thick)
2 red capsicums
1 zucchini, sliced lengthways
1/4 pumpkin, peeled and sliced
extra olive oil
1 cup plain flour
4 cups warm milk
freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
150g fetta cheese, crumbled
In a deep frypan, saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil on a low heat until soft and transparent. Add the passata, cinnamon and oregano and let it simmer on a low heat for 20 minutes before you season with salt, pepper and if necessary with sugar. You are looking for a well rounded sauce, you’ll know when you’re there.
Whilst your sauce is bubbling away prep the veges. This does take time, as I mentioned earlier – but enjoy it, put some tunes on, get the kids to help etc. Turn the oven on to 180C, cut peppers /capsicums in half and de-seed them, place them in a baking tray along with the peeled and sliced pumpkin and drizzle with a little olive oil. Bake them for 30 mins or until golden and blistering.
Peel the spuds and boil them whole for 15 minutes until just cooked through, drain and slice fairly thinly.
Salt the eggplant in a colander over the sink for 20 mins. Whilst it’s drawing out the bitter juices, grill the zucchini in a griddle pan until golden on both sides. Rinse the eggplant and pat dry with a paper towel. Grill the eggplant on both sides just like the zucchini. You will need a little olive oil to baste but don’t go too overboard as you will end up with a super oily moussaka.
Take the capsicums and pumpkin out of the oven when done and sweat the capsicums in a ziplock bag to release the skins. Peel when done.
Assembly! Lightly spray a lasagna dish with olive oil spray or baste with olive oil and sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the base. First, layer the potatoes and then the eggplant. Spoon over some sauce and layer the peppers, zucchini and extra eggplant, followed by more sauce and then the pumpkin. Sprinkle the top with fetta cheese and set aside whilst you make the bechamel.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan and gradually add the flour whisking as you go. Cook this mixture out for a minute or so then begin to gradually add the milk and nutmeg (if using), stirring, do not stop stirring. After about 5 minutes you will have a gloriously silky smooth thick bechamel. Pour this without delay over the fetta layer and bake in a moderate 180C oven for 40 minutes until golden.