Vegetarian Moussaka - a delectable way to use Butternut Squash
Author: Fiona Lesley
The inspiration for this Vegetarian Moussaka came after I had drawn a blank with many other vegetarian moussaka recipes. I love using butternut squash - it is both filling and nutritious. Therefore, using butternut as a base in this dish meant that there didn't have to be as much bulky pulse added. The result is a very satisfying dish, rich in flavor and packed with nutrients.
With regards to roasting the butternut squash: peel the butternut. Next, chop the butternut into inch (2½ cm) cubes, discarding the seeds. Place the cubes on an oiled baking tray. Massage a little oil over the butternut cubes and roast them in a moderate oven for about 30 - 40 mins, until they are cooked. Simple!
The greatest improvement in this Vegetarian Moussaka recipe is that the aubergines are not fried. I hate greasy food - but I love the taste of it! Baking the aubergines gives you the taste with minimal fat. In order to do this, grease a couple of large baking sheets. Slice 2 large aubergines into ¼ inch / 5 mm slices. Place the slices on the baking sheets in a single layer. Brush the slices with oil. Bake at 350Â° F / 180Â° C for about 20 minutes. Turn the slices over and cook for another 20 minutes. I usually prepare 4 aubergines like this and freeze the slices in between sheets of freezer paper. I haul them out to put on top of salads or into pasta sauce.
The ingredients seem endless - but everything can be prepared in advance. In fact, it is wise to make the tomato sauce the day before. It can even be made well ahead and frozen.
The addition of a teaspoon of mustard to the cheese sauce adds flavor and means that you can cut down on the amount of cheese.
A little effort
Preparation time: 45 minutes, but everything can be done in advance
Cooking time: Â½ hour for moussaka
4 cups roasted butternut - approx 1lb 4oz / 550g (see above for instructions)
2 cups cooked brown lentils
3 cups tomato sauce (see below)
1 quantity white sauce (see below)
2 large aubergines, cut into Â¼ inch thick slices and baked (see above for instructions)
Tomato Sauce Ingredients:
2 large onions, diced
about 3 tablespoons oil
2lbs / 900g tomatoes, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4 tablespoons tomato paste
Â½ cup (loosely packed) parsley
Â½ cup (loosely packed) coriander
1 cup water
Â½ teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper
Cheese Sauce Ingredients:
2oz / 60 g butter
2oz / 60 g flour
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard
Â½ teaspoon salt
1 cup strong cheese, grated - cheddar is a good choice
Use a large frying pan to make the tomato sauce. You will need a small pot for the white sauce and an oven proof dish for the Moussaka.
When you are ready to assemble, heat the oven to 350Â° F / 180Â° C.
To make the tomato sauce: fry the onions in the oil until they soften and begin to brown.
Add the garlic, tomatoes, tomato paste. Allow to simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the parsley, coriander, salt and pepper and slowly add the water. Allow to simmer for about 10 minutes until the sauce thickens. You may either blend the sauce or leave it so that it is chunky. This quantity yields about 5 cups.
To make the cheese sauce: melt the butter in the pot. Add the flour and cook for a minute. Slowly add the milk, stirring constantly. Allow to come to the boil and thicken. Add the mustard, cheese and salt and cook for another minute. Keep aside.
To assemble Vegetarian Moussaka: place the cooked diced butternut in the oven-proof dish. Sprinkle over the lentils. Spoon over 3 cups of tomato sauce. Arrange the aubergine slices on top. Spoon the cheese sauce over.
Bake at 350Â° F / 180Â° C for Â½ hour. Serve with a big salad.
Fiona Lesley has had over 20 years of experience cooking delicious meals for family and friends alike. A teacher by profession, she brings together her years of time and money-saving tips at Monthly Meal Planning