A greens to an end

It’s Monday (again).

So what better way to celebrate everyone’s favourite day of the week, than with a vegetarian recipe!

I lack any scientific data to back me up, but I’m confident that on any given Monday, just glancing at a vegetarian recipe, can boost vigour and all-round motivation levels…

I’ll be honest though, if all you can stomach at this point in the day is a couple of nice tunes to ease yourself into the start of the week, then I’d say it’s still been worth it.

Please see below the aforementioned tunes, and a recipe for vegetarian moussaka with a chicory & lemon salad.

[Men I Trust – Billie Toppy, 2022]
[Braxe & Falcon – Step by Step (feat. Panda Bear]

Shopping list (serves 6)
Large aubergines (thinly sliced) x 8
Dried mushrooms x 30g
Carrots (finely chopped) x 3
Cherry or plum tomatoes x 200g
Celery sticks (finely chopped) x 3
Garlic cloves (minced) x 5
Black garlic cloves (chopped) x 5
Ground cinnamon x 2 tsp
Cayenne pepper x 2 tsp
Lentils x 300g
Vegetable stock x 2 litres
Red wine x 250ml

Bechamel sauce:
Whole milk x 500ml
Plain flour x 75g
Unsalted butter x 125g
Fresh nutmeg x 1 tsp

Chicory bulbs (halved) x 4
Coriander (finely chopped) x 1 handful
Zest of 2 lemons
Juice of 2 lemons
Extra virgin olive oil x 150ml
Watercress/rocket x 250g
Toasted pine nuts x 100g

Start by making sure the vegetable stock is simmering away, before adding the dried mushrooms.

At the same time, in a large saucepan or casserole dish, fry off the onions, celery and carrots in a glug of oil, over a medium heat. After 10 minutes or so, you can add both garlics and the tomatoes. Continue to stir over a medium heat for another 10 minutes, seasoning well as you go.

Add the spices, along with the lentils. Pour in the red wine, and reduce over a high heat for just five minutes, stirring constantly. You can now add in the veg/mushroom stock, along with the rehydrated mushrooms. Bring it all to a light simmer, cover and leave to cook for three hours, stirring the ragu every now and then.

In the meantime, you can toss the slices of aubergine with about half a tablespoon of salt. Leave them in a colander for 30 minutes, before rinsing with cold water, and patting completely dry.

Turn your oven to 200°C (fan)/220°C, and cook all of the aubergine slices on a flat oven tray (most likely you’ll need two trays for the whole lot) for 10 minutes, or until just starting to turn a lovely golden colour. Remove from the oven and leave to one side.

Make the béchamel sauce by melting the butter over a low heat in a medium-size saucepan, and adding the flour, and at the same time bring the milk almost to the boil in a separate pan.

Stir the butter and flour until combined, before gradually adding the hot milk, using a whisk to achieve a creamy consistency. Season well with salt, black pepper and the nutmeg.

Once the veggie ragu is done, you can begin assembling the moussaka.

Starting with the bottom of a large oven dish, simply layer the slices of aubergine evenly to create three (or four depending on depth of your dish) layers, each with a generous helping of the béchamel sauce on top of the ragu.

Keeping the oven at 200°C (fan)/220°C, you can now bake the moussaka uncovered for 30 minutes, or until golden brown on top and bubbling away beneath. Remove from the oven, and leave to rest for 15 minutes.

Make the salad by gently frying off the halves of chicory with a pinch of salt in oil or butter, for 10 minutes, until one side is browned, and they’re cooked through. Chop up the chicory, and mix together with the leaves and pine nuts. Simply combine the rest of the ingredients for the dressing.

Serve the moussaka alongside generous helpings of the salad.



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