If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
-J.R.R Tolkien

16 January 2012

Vegetarian moussaka

 So, we have a pretty good selection of cookbooks but we rarely pick a recipe and follow it. I am on a mission to change this, and started with Jane Noraika's "New Food for thought". Food for thought is a lovely little vegetarian restaurant in Covent Garden of London, which I used to regularly visit when I lived over there in 2004-2005. It was also the first ever restaurant I took my meat eating boyfriend to, with success I think. He took me to Pizza Hut. :D

He gave me this book around 2006 (we can't agree on the year...) but not many recipes have been followed, as I said. I browsed through the book and decided to start on Moussaka, as it is most certainly apt food for the dark cold wintertime.

(Serves 6)

Tomato sauce:
Olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 sticks celery, sliced
1 carrot, grated
tinned chopped tomatoes, 400g
2 tbsp tomato puree
splash of soy sauce
bunch of fresh basil, chopped

White sauce:
50g butter
50g flour (2tbsp in the original recipe, found that it wasn't enough)
pinch of nutmeg
150 ml milk
100g cheddar (think I nearly doubled this...oops)
(original recipe adds a beaten egg white but I gave it a miss)

100g green lentils (bought mine ready cooked)
675g potatoes, cooked and then sliced
2 aubergines (aka eggplant), sliced
275g mushrooms, cut into quarters
1 red pepper, de-seeded and sliced into thin strips
450g FRESH spinach, washed very well

 1. Preheat oven to 180C.
2. Cook lentils if didn't buy them ready cooked.

 3. Place sliced aubergine on a large oven tray with plenty of olive oil. Add pesto if you want extra flavour. I used the new Pirkka lemon pesto, which is nice and fresh. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes until tender, stir every now and then.
 4. Stir-fry mushrooms and peppers, set aside.

5. Cook the spinach quickly in a saucepan in olive oil and butter (no butter in the original but I think spinach needs it) until it's wilted. Squeeze extra liquid out.

6.In a large saucepan fry the onion, garlic, celery and carrot in olive oil until soft. Add tomatos, tomato puree and soy sauce. Bring to the boil and season with basil, salt and pepper. Let it cool down for a while.Combine with lentils, mushrooms, peppers and spinach.

The best ever white sauce I ever made! (Might be the first one too...)
 7. In a small pan melt the butter with the nutmeg. Lower the heat and stir in the flour slowly. I needed much more flour than 2 tbsp like the original recipe suggested, almost the same quantity as butter. Cook until the texture of the roux changes to breadcrumb-like. Slowly add the milk and stir vigorously all the time to avoid lumps. Stir in the cheese and season with salt and pepper. Stir until the cheese is melted.
8.Cover a deep dish with half of the tomato mixture, layer half of the aubergines on top.Add half of the potatoes on the aubergines. Repeat, and cover the final layer of potatoes with the white sauce. Add extra cheese if you're as greedy as me.

9. Cook in the oven at 200-225C for 20-30 minutes until the cheese is golden brown and bubbling.

10. Serve with something green and ENJOY!

I look forward to making more yummy vegetarian recipes from this book. I really need to experiment more with pulses and stuff to get more vegetable proteins, I eat too much fish for my liking at the moment. I'd like to eat soups more regularly, so the next recipe might be a red pepper and almond soup. And we are hoping to visit UK at some point this year, maybe it's time to visit the good old Food for thought again...


  1. it was very delicious, but way toooooo big portion even for two of us. I still have it in my fridge.

  2. Yes it's very big! I got 8 portions out of it, and froze half. The cookbook I followed assumes that people eat big portions I think!