Traditional moussaka is usually such a heavy dish, more suited to winter rather than summer. I always feel a little torn though as the key ingredients, eggplant and zucchini are such beautiful summery vegetables. Recently we had a huge glut of giant pale green zucchinis (some would perhaps call them a squash) and gorgeous bright red tomatoes, I could resist tinkering with the traditional ingredients to make a lighter, vegetarian moussaka recipe.
For the fresh tomato sauce:
4 garlic cloves, minced
500g tomatoes, grated with liquid
1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
2 cinnamon quills
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
1/4 cup olive oil
For the Béchamel Sauce:
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
3 cups milk, warmed
2 egg yolks
3/4 cup drained feta, mashed
1. Preheat the oven to 200C and prepare the vegetables.
2. Place the eggplant and zucchini slices in a colander and salt them liberally, leave for 1 hour.
3. Peel the potatoes and boil them whole for about 10 mins until just tender. Drain, cool, and slice them in 1/4 inch slices. Set aside.
4. Rinse the eggplant and zucchini slices and blot remove any excess moisture with paper towels. Place the zucchini and eggplant slices on baking tray, drizzle with a tiny amount of olive oil and bake for around half an hour.
5. While the eggplant is cooking, make the tomato sauce.
Make the Tomato Sauce:
6. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large heavy based pan. Add garlic and saute until fragrant about 1 minute.
7. Add grated tomatoes, cinnamon quills, chilli, sugar, salt, and pepper. Add the 1/4 cup of olive oil and leave to simmer, uncovered for 30mins. Remove cinnamon quills.
Build the moussaka:
8. Lightly grease a baking pan and cover the bottom of the pan with a layer of potatoes. Top with a layer of eggplant slices. Add tomato sauce on top of eggplant. Add zucchini slices next. Top with another layer of tomato sauce. Add a final layer of potatoes.
Make the Bechamel Sauce:
9. Melt butter over low heat and whisk in flour continuously to make a smooth paste - do not allow it to brown.
10. Add warmed milk to mixture, whisking continuously and simmer over low heat until it thickens slightly.
11. Remove from heat and whisk in the mashed feta. Stir in beaten egg yolks and pinch of nutmeg. Return to low heat and stir until sauce thickens, be careful not to boil or over heat.
12. Pour the béchamel sauce over the potato layer and be sure to allow sauce to fill the sides and corners of the pan. Sprinkle with grated cheese. Bake in 220C degree oven for 45 minutes or until béchamel is golden brown. Allow to cool for around 20 minutes before slicing and serving.