Red lentil and aubergine mousakka

Vegetarian mousakka

Vegetarian mousakka

After a delicious meal at Ezo’s Turkish Restaurant last weekend, I decided to have a go at making mousakka myself. This new take on the classic recipe uses red lentils and aubergines. In total, it takes about an hour, but it’s well worth it!

Preparation time: 30 mins

Cooking time: 30 mins

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

For the filling:

  • 1 aubergine, sliced into thin circles
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tsp tomato purée
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 100g red lentils, cooked according to packet instructions
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  •  Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the topping:

  • 125g ricotta
  • 125g Greek yoghurt
  • 3 eggs
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • 50g freshly grated parmesan

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. Toss the aubergine slices in olive oil, then drain and season to taste.
  3. Fry the aubergine slices until golden-brown on both sides.
  4. Add the onion, pepper and garlic to the pan and fry until softened.
  5. Stir in the tomato purée and continue to fry for a further 5 minutes.
  6. Add the chopped tomatoes and cinnamon stick and simmer for 5 minutes.
  7. Add the lentils and fried aubergines to the mixture. Simmer until warmed through.
  8. Transfer the mixture to an ovenproof dish and sprinkle with chopped parsley.
  9. For the topping, beat together the ricotta, Greek yoghurt, eggs and grated nutmeg in a bowl. Season, to taste.
  10. Pour the topping mixture into the ovenproof dish on top of the filling. Sprinkle over the grated parmesan.
  11. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the topping is golden-brown. Serve immediately.

Yummy!

Photo: Candice Eisner

Turkish delight

Falafel

Falafel

Thegreenveggie took a trip to Bristol this weekend and had the chance to sample some authentic Turkish cooking at Ezo Turkish Restaurant, which is located on the bohemian Gloucester Road in St Andrews.

After being chided for not booking a table (the waiter was half-joking, but he did give us a stern lecture!) we were seated at a table right in front of the open kitchen, where we could watch the two chefs hard at work over the grill.

Turkish cuisine is probably best known for its grilled meats, but the menu presented an impressive array of vegetarian options. In fact, with dishes like red lentil soup, feta and spinach filo parcels and grilled halloumi, deciding on a starter (or meze) proved tricky.

Falafel

Having seen the size of the main courses, my guest and I decided to share a plate of falafel (fritters made from chick peas, beans and spices). These were carefully presented on a bed of fresh salad and were accompanied by delicate swirls of homous.

The falafel were perfectly cooked – crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, with subtle hints of coriander and cumin really enhancing the flavours. This was complemented well by the mild garlic tones of the homous.

The menu provided less choice for the main course, with all of the dishes from the barbecue strictly ruled out for vegetarians. However, there were three suitable oven-baked dishes, including vegetable turlu (a kind of stew) and mixed roast vegetables.

Musakka

I decided to try the musakka, which was made from potatoes and aubergines in white sauce, topped with feta cheese. From our vantage point, I could see the chef produce a steaming ceramic dish from the oven, and the waiter immediately brought it to our table.

There was slightly too much cheese for my liking, which made the top greasy, but the roasted aubergine, which can so often be tough and chewy, was beautifully tender and infused with rich flavours of garlic, black pepper and olive oil.

We didn’t try a dessert, but the baklava (layers of filo pastry with syrup and chopped nuts) looked delicious. Definitely a reason to go back! The meal was good value for money, with most starters priced at £3.95, mains at £9.95 and desserts at £3.80.

Photo: Kudu Momo

Baked spinach and ricotta pancakes

Baked pancakes

Baked pancakes

Pancake Day very much ignited my enthusiasm for pancakes and crepes! Here’s a savoury pancake recipe, which uses spinach and ricotta. Delicious served with salad, or boiled new potatoes and green beans.

Preparation time: 20 mins

Cooking time: 25 mins

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 110g plain flour, sifted
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 250ml milk
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 250g spinach
  • 250g ricotta
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 50g Parmesan, grated
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes

 Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C.
  2. To make the pancakes, sift the flour into a bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in the beaten egg. Beat the egg into the flour with a fork and add the milk gradually. Heat a knob of butter in a frying pan and pour in the pancake mixture until it covers the bottom of the pan. When the underside is golden, flip the pancake. Repeat to make eight pancakes.
  3. Fry the onions in a knob of butter in a large pan until soft.
  4. Add the garlic and spinach and cook until the spinach is completely wilted. Leave to cool.
  5. Mix in the ricotta, lemon zest and half the Parmesan and season.
  6. Spread one-third of the sauce on the bottom of a baking dish.
  7. Divide another third of the mixture between eight pancakes and roll each one up to make an evenly filled tube.
  8. Sit the pancakes side by side in the dish (like cannelloni). Pour the remaining third of the sauce over the pancakes.
  9. Sprinkle over the rest of the Parmesan.
  10. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the cheese is golden.

Enjoy…

Photo: Fahara F

Welsh rarebit

Welsh Rarebit

Welsh Rarebit

Welsh rarebit is quick and easy to make and is perfect as a snack or a light lunch. This traditional Welsh dish is delicious served with some crispy salad leaves and a tasty dressing.

Preparation time: 10 mins

Cooking time: 10 mins

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 50g flour
  • 50g butter
  • 250ml beer or ale, warmed
  • 250g cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 tsp English mustard
  • Black pepper
  • 4 large slices granary bread

Method:

  1. In a small saucepan, melt the butter and make a roux with the flour. Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring to prevent the roux from burning.
  2. Stir in the warm beer gradually, until you have a thick, smooth sauce.
  3. Add the grated cheese and stir until melted. You should now have a thick paste.
  4. Mix in the mustard and season well with black pepper.
  5. Lightly toast and butter the bread, then pile up the cheesy mixture on each slice.
  6. Cook under a hot grill for a few minutes, until browned and bubbling.

Delicious…

Photo: Tristan Kenney