Tag Archives: lentils

a sort of moussaka

There is a glut of courgettes in the fridge; we normally do a sort of pasta bake with tomatoes, basil and mozzarella, or stir fry them, but I caught a glimpse of some cookery programme the other day where somebody was making a moussaka with courgettes instead of aubergine, and so I thought I’d give it a try.

There was a tub of lamb/lentil moussaka lentil mix in the freezer, which was nice – we’ve just done three days on the trot working till seven, and the last thing I want to do at that hour of the night is to construct moussaka from scratch!  Padding out moussaka or spag bol – or any other mince based dish – with lentils makes it go a lot further, thus aiding the budget, and we like the texture too.

I sliced up three courgettes – this isn’t helpful, really, as they were all different sizes, but do some. I cut them in rounds, about 1cm thick.  Then I tossed them in a bowl with plenty of olive oil, put them on a baking tray, and cooked them at 210˚ for about 20 minutes.  While that was going on, I made a white sauce with some nutmeg in it.

Then I heated up the lentil/lamb mix in the microwave for a couple of minutes, to get everything kick started.  Layered a dish with moussaka / courgettes/white sauce / moussaka / courgettes / white sauce, topping with grated mozzarella.  We have a thriving basil plant on the kitchen window sill right now, so I scattered a load of basil leaves after the first layer of white sauce.

Baked at 180˚ for about 25 minutes.  It worked really well, and I’ll be doing that again.

lentil dosas

lentil dosas

I’ve been wanting to make these ever since I spotted them in one of my bread books, but I’ve never been organised enough to do it – they’re remarkably simple, but you need to start them 32 hours in advance, according to the book.

Take 3/4 cup of long grain rice (I used Basmati, as we had no long grain), 1/4 cup of red lentils, and combine in a bowl with 1 cup of warm water.

Cover with clingfilm, and leave for 8 hours.

Then, blitz the contents of the bowl in a food processor, and return to the (rinsed out) bowl, recover with the clingfilm, and leave for 24 hours.

Then stir in some salt, ground black pepper and 1/2 tsp (ish) of turmeric.  The recipe said to add fresh coriander; we didn’t have any, but I did lob in some grated fresh ginger.  It claimed it would make 6 x 6″ dosas, but I made them a bit smaller for ease of scoffing – just heat up a heavy based frying pan, add some oil, and cook them like drop scones or whatever.

They were utterly delicious – we ate them with some leftover black-eyed peas in tomatoes that I cooked up at the weekend to accompany our (home made) chicken dansak.  We shall be having them again!

aubergine, spinach and lentil bake

lentil and aubergine bake

Using up: aubergine, some red wine that had gone vinegary, 1/3 of a bag of spinach

We love this sort of food, and eat it often.  In the fridge was an aubergine, spinach, and some feta cheese, and Pete had  opened a bottle of red wine last week and inexplicably failed to drink most of it, and it had gone over, despite being properly stoppered.

So … I fried a roughly chopped onion and some garlic in a pan until it was soft, then put in about 1 tablespoon of Ras El Hanout spice mix, a fab standby in the cupboard, and fried that round.

Then I added two mugfuls (mugs full?) of red lentils and stirred, 2.5 mugfuls of water, and about 2/3 mug of red wine.  Stirred well, brought to the boil and set on a low light to cook for about 45 minutes.  You might need to add more fluid – lentils can go splurp and stick to the pan in an unexpected way.

While the lentils were cooking, I sliced an aubergine fairly thinly and fried it till browned, in batches, in olive oil, and set to drain on some kitchen paper.  Then I made some basic white sauce with nutmeg grated into it.

Then into an ovenproof dish went the lentils, then the washed and drained spinach, then the white sauce, and topped it off with the aubergine slices.  Then we put half a block of feta cheese, diced up small, on top of all that, and bunged it in a hot oven for about 25 minutes.

Cheap (because it works perfectly well with water, or vegetable stock, rather than wine) and delicious.

That amount of lentils made enough for six servings, by the way, so two tubs went into the freezer.  You can use it for a faux lasagne too, should you wish – works very well.

And I split the rest of the red wine into two small boxes and froze that too – it might not be good enough to drink, but it’ll be fine to cook with!

a cross between lasagne and moussaka (with lentils)

We had spinach to use up, and we’d normally make a lasagne or a moussaka. But there was no bolognese sauce in the freezer (and didn’t have any mushrooms left), and no aubergine.  What to do?

Well, I did a hybrid.  It doesn’t sound great, I admit, but trust me – it was utterly lovely.

I chopped an onion and some garlic, and sweated them down in some olive oil.  Then I added about two dessertspoons of the black masala we made at the weekend (I didn’t use precisely this recipe, but it’s close enough for jazz), and fried it off.

In went a mug of brown lentils, and 2 mugs of water, plus a good pinch of salt.  Brought to the boil and simmered on a diffuser for about 50 minutes.

Made a white sauce, then layered an ovenproof dish with lentils <-> lasagne <-> spinach  <-> white sauce <-> lentils <-> lasagne <-> white sauce, and topped with cubed feta.  Into a hot oven (gas 6) for about 35-40 minutes.

Honestly – it was really nice.  A bit fusion-y, I know …

a lentil bake

lentil sort of moussaka thing

using up: a mozzarella, half a bag of spinach, some creme fraiche

I’m a big fan of lentils – I just love the texture, and we often have a lentil lasagne or moussaka.  We don’t have a veg box at the moment (I cancelled the one we were using because it wasn’t quite what we wanted, and haven’t started a new one), but on my veg shop yesterday, I bought a couple of aubergines, just so I could concoct this.

I used the last of my Seasoned Pioneers Organic Ras-El-Hanout spice pack; I never buy these as a rule, but this one caught my eye at a food market.  It contains, galangal, rosebuds, black pepper, ginger, cardamon, cayenne, allspice, lavender, cinnamon, cassia, coriander, mace, nutmeg and cloves.  We have most of those on the spice shelves, but not all, and I have no idea of the mix, of course, but I might have a bash … it’s a lovely blend.

Anyway – to the food.  I chopped one large onion roughly, and about five cloves of garlic, and fried them in some olive oil in a cast iron casserole (use a big one – this grows 🙂 until they were just browning.  Then put in about 1/4 of the spice mix (all that was left) and fried that too.

Added about 2.5 mugs of lentils and stirred them round, about 4 mugs of water, and a slosh of red wine.  Shook in some red pepper flakes.  Brought to the boil, then turned down very low and cooked for 35-40 minutes.

While that was going on, Pete finely sliced the aubergine, and fried them till brown in still more olive oil, setting them to drain off on kitchen paper.  I washed the half bag of spinach that needed using, and made a white sauce, using the quarter or so tub of creme fraiche in it, as that needed eating (gave it a nice tangy flavour – I’ll do that again).

When the lentils were done, we did one full tub for the freezer (and it went in – amazing), and ladled the rest into a big lasagne dish.  Covered the lentils with spinach, and grated some nutmug over it – spinach and nutmeg is one of those wonderful combinations.  Next on went the white sauce, and then the fried aubergines.  Last of all, the mozzarella  – two days past its sell-by date 🙂 – was chopped and scattered over the top.

Gas 6 for 25 minutes and out it came.  We ate half of it for supper last night, and it was utterly gorgeous.  The other half has been carefully transferred to a smaller dish, covered with clingfilm, and put in the fridge for supper later in the week.

lentil lasagne

lentils[sorry – no photo]

Using up: some spinach

As my regular reader will know, I made some lentil moussaka mix last weekend for the freezer. I even bought an aubergine to go with it.  But then I thought “we always make moussaka when we have aubergine”, and decided I might try something different with it.  Which I will be doing tonight, so you can read about it in a couple of days – unless, of course, it’s a disaster.

However, as I had removed the lentils from the freezer, I had to think what to do with them.  And this is what I came up with.

Make a white sauce with plenty of nutmeg.  Layer half the lentils in a dish, cover with lasagne verdi, add a thick layer of spinach and half the white sauce.  Repeat, but without the spinach this time.  Sprinkle the top with a mixture of parmesan and gruyere, grated.  Bake at 200/gas 6 for about 30 minutes.

It was spectacularly nice – I’m not sure I didn’t like it better than lasagne with a bolognese sauce.  We’ll be doing that again.

lentil moussaka

Sorry – forgot the picture!  Using up: aubergine, some grated cheese

This turned into a bit of an epic, and was lovely.  I looked up some recipes, both on the interweb and in my copious collection of cookery books, but nothing seemed quite right, so I made it up as I went along.

I put some olive oil in our small Le Creuset casserole, while I chopped a large onion and some garlic.  Then I realised it would be *too* small so decanted the oil into the next size up. Sautéed the onion and garlic  until the edges started to brown.  Then I added half a sachet of “Egyptian spices”, which has been on the shelf for ages.  It consisted of cumin, coriander, ground hazelnuts (!) and some other stuff – easy enough to replicate.  Stirred that around a bit, then in went a mugful of puy lentils, a tin of chopped tomatoes, and a mugful of water (with which I swilled out the tomato tin first), and a sloosh of red wine.   Put the lid on, moved to the back on a low light.  A little later, when I thought of it, we added some thyme and rosemary from the herb garden.

Regarded the oil sticking to the small casserole, and decided that I couldn’t waste it.  So I chopped three potatoes into dice, boiled them for five minutes then fried them in the small casserole, with more olive oil.  That’s reactive!  Set them aside.

Sliced an aubergine into, um, slices, and Pete fried them in olive oil (we must have used a lot last night).  Set them to drain on kitchen paper.  Made a bechamel-style sauce, and added half the grated cheese; it was red leicester and gruyere, I think, and had been grated on Sunday night for the pasta bake, but we decided to use a mozzarella instead.

The lentils were done by now – I think they had about 45 minutes in all.  I put the potatoes into the lentil mix, then took a pyrex dish, and layered lentils / aubergine / cheese sauce twice, and scattered the remaining cheese over the top.  It had about 20 minutes at gas 6/200°, and then we ate it and it was divine.

Half the lentil mix went in the freezer for another day, so this would serve 4 quite hungry people.