This meatless moussaka should be on everyone’s ‘to try’ list, not just vegetarians, because it is sensational – rich, oily, creamy, filling, tasty and absolutely moreish. Serve with a salad, and, yep, have a lie down after!
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2 x 400g (8 oz) cans crushed Italian tomatoes
¼ tsp ground cumin
⅛ tsp ground cinnamon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
45g (3 Tbsp) butter
4 level Tbsp standard flour
400ml (about 14 fl oz) milk
Salt and flaky sea salt
Freshly grated nutmeg
Freshly ground white pepper
¾ cup grated vintage cheddar cheese
1 medium (size 6) free- range egg
1.2kg (about 2½ lbs) floury potatoes
2 medium eggplant (aubergine)
Flaky sea salt
1 Make the tomato sauce first. Heat extra virgin olive oil in a medium-sized saucepan over gentle heat. Add garlic and cook for a few minutes until fragrant and just starting to change colour. Tip in tomatoes and add cumin, cinnamon, ½ a teaspoon of salt and plenty of black pepper. Bring to a gentle boil, lower heat and cook gently for 15 minutes.
2 For the cheese sauce, gently melt butter in a small saucepan, remove from heat and stir in flour, then blend in one-third of the milk. Slowly blend in the rest of the milk. Set pan over medium heat and whisk until bubbling. Cook for 1 minute, stirring, then remove pan from heat and whisk in ½ a teaspoon of salt, a good grating of nutmeg, white pepper and grated cheddar. Cover sauce with a lid and leave to cool.
3 Cut potatoes in half if they are large, then steam them in their skins, or gently boil, until nearly tender. Cool, peel and slice.
4 Slice eggplants. Pour some olive oil onto a plate. Dunk each slice in a little oil and cook until golden in a preheated ridged grill pan or cast-iron frying pan. Transfer slices to a plate as they are done and sprinkle with flaky sea salt. Continue with the rest of the eggplant.
5 Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F). Assemble moussaka in a buttered casserole with a 2.5–3 litre capacity (2.5 litre = US 2.6 quart/UK 2.1 quart.) Layer potatoes, sprinkling with salt, then fried eggplant and tomato sauce until all ingredients are used up. Beat egg into cheese sauce and spoon on top of moussaka. Bake for 30 minutes, or until puffed and golden.
A warning! Potato & Eggplant Moussaka is not the sort of dish you can whip up after work. There are 4 main prep steps: tomato sauce, cheese sauce, cooking potatoes and frying eggplants, although the tomato sauce can be made a day or more ahead, and the eggplant fried a day ahead. Allow plenty of time to put it all together so it becomes an enjoyable and rewarding experience.