30 August, 2012

August recipe: Courgette moussaka

Moussaka is a Greek dish traditionally made with aubergines. As courgettes grow better than aubergines in Britain, and have a tendency to produce a sudden glut in late summer, I tried adapting the recipe to use courgettes instead of aubergines.  It worked very well.  So, for anyone else with a garden full of courgettes, here’s the recipe.  If you have a glut of fresh tomatoes, you can use those in it as well (if not, tinned tomatoes also work well).

Courgette moussaka (serves 4)

2 lb (approx 1 kg) courgettes
8 oz (approx 250 g) minced lamb or beef
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
Approx 1 lb (approx 450 g) chopped tomatoes, fresh or tinned
1 teaspoon (1 x 5 ml spoon) demerara sugar
2 teaspoons (2 x 5 ml spoon) chopped basil or oregano (or other herbs of your choice)
1 Tablespoon (1 x 15 ml spoon) Worcester sauce (optional)
2 Tablespoons (2 x 15 ml spoon) red wine (optional)

For the white sauce and topping
Approx 0.5 oz (approx 10 g) butter
1 Tablespoon (1 x 15 ml spoon) plain flour
Approx 0.5 pint (approx 250 ml) milk
4 oz (approx 125 g) cheddar cheese

Slice the courgettes about 1 cm (approx 0.5 inch) thick, and sprinkle with 1-2 teaspoons of salt. Leave to stand for 30 minutes for the salt to draw some of the juices out of the courgettes.  Rinse the courgette slices in cold water and drain on kitchen paper.

Peel and chop the onion.

Fry the chopped onion and minced lamb or beef gently in olive oil over a medium heat until the onion is softened and the mince starting to brown.  Add the crushed garlic and fry another minute or so.

Add the chopped tomatoes, sugar and herbs and stir well.  Add the Worcester sauce and red wine, if using.  Season with salt and pepper.

Cover the pan and simmer for 30-40 minutes until the sauce is thickened and the meat cooked through.  Remove from the heat.

To make the white sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat.

Remove from the heat and stir in the flour.  Gradually blend in the milk, a little at a time.  Remember to keep scraping the flour off the back of the spoon. 

Return to the heat and bring to the boil, stirring all the time, until thickened.  Season with salt and pepper.  Simmer over a low heat for a minute or two, then remove from the heat.

Slice or grate the cheese.

Grease a large ovenproof dish.  A lasagne dish or large casserole dish is ideal.

Arrange the courgette slices and the meat/tomato sauce in alternate layers in the dish, starting and finishing with courgette.

Pour the white sauce over the top of the last courgette layer.  Top with the sliced or grated cheese.

Bake in a moderately hot oven at about 170 C for about 1 hour until the courgettes are tender and the cheese is golden brown and bubbling.

Serve with potatoes or bread.

The meat and tomato sauce can be frozen.  I’ve never tried freezing the finished dish.

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