Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Baked Moussaka Penne



I've never had the real moussaka, I went veg before I had a chance to try it. However, while I'm vaguely sure this wouldn't really taste like the real thing, it's still damn good in its own right!

Beneath that creamy bechamel layer is a gorgeous, rich sauce of tomatoes, eggplant and veggie mince mixed with perfectly-cooked penne. If you wanted to make it even easier, you could forgo the bechamel layer (I'm all for saving pots haha), but it adds that special something that makes an extra pot to wash at the end totally worth it.

I often put a bechamel layer on tomato-based sauces because I really don't like plain pasta sauce. I need a creamy element or I just won't enjoy it. My other arsenal is capers and olives... if I have to suffer through a bolognese or similar, these little flavour bombs get me through.


But sometimes, you just gotta do the bechamel.
Look at that thing.

Ingredients
1 onion, diced
1 eggplant, diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 packet veggie mince (I used Sanitarium in this one)
1 jar pasta sauce
200g tomato paste
1 can diced tomatoes
pinch of sugar
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup milk
1 bay leaf
small amount of grated fresh nutmeg
1 cup grated cheese
cooked penne

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 180C.

2. Saute the onion in a little oil over medium heat 2-3 minutes. 

3. Add eggplant and turn heat up to medium-high and saute until soft. This might take a while and suck up a lot of oil, but if you don't saute now it will stay hard and uncooked in the finished dish.

4. When all is soft, add veggie mince and garlic, stir 1 minute.

5. Add pasta sauce, paste, tomatoes and a pinch of sugar. Turn the heat off and set aside.

6. For the bechamel, cook the butter and flour over low heat, stirring 1 minute.

7. Add the milk and bay leaf. Raise the temperature and cook, stirring, until thick and bubbling. I left mine a little thinner than usual so it would stay a sauce and not go too rubbery when cold. You might like to add a little milk. Grate a little nutmeg over and stir in.

8. Mix tomato sauce with penne and layer in a large casserole dish.

9. Pour bechamel over and top with cheese.

10. Bake in preheated oven 20-30 minutes until heated through and cheese is golden brown and bubbling.

18 comments:

  1. Sonia LifeLoveandHiccupsNovember 9, 2011 at 10:00 AM

    mmmmm drool :)

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  2. Never having cooked with eggplant because I'm scared of the bitter taste that it's meant to have I'm thinking that this might be a great way to start as there are so many other fabulous ingredients in the mix that any boo-boos I might have with the purple plant will be well and truly masked.

    Looking forward to sharing this with my family later in the week.

    Happy day!
    Felicity x

    PS: Just heard part of your interview on ABC radio as I was driving - yay!
    Is the pumpkin and fetta recipe on this site - I had to get out of the car before end of the interview?

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  3. I make a great Bechamel sauce. Not sure how since my mother taught me and hers was always lumpy with uncooked flour...

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  4. Drooool! I heart bechamel too. Thanks for the inspiration - bechamel will be on the menu tonight :)

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  5. ew, gross! that is the worst. I pride myself on my non-lumpy bechamel, but I'm the worst person to tell others how to make it considering I break all the rules when I do ;-/

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  6. Oh I'm sad you have only heard bad things about eggplant! I have never found it bitter at all... it's silky and almost sweet. This is a great dish for eggplant versions, because as you say, it's mixed in with a bunch of other stuff!

    So strange that people actually heard me... I still haven't yet! I haven't blogged the recipe, but I might. Until then, put some thinly sliced pumpkin, halved cherry tomatoes and bits of feta on puff pastry and bake. Top with basil. The end ;-)

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  7. Yummo . I'm a vegetarian of 12 years and I absolutely love eggplant in dishes, and I have never found it bitter either. You need to salt it first and it's so creamy and soft like. Love vegie moussaka

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  8. Looks delicious Stace. Never made a moussaka but this I've got to try x

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  9. you make the best food, that looks divine! I've made it just with layers of eggplant and tomato sauce and bechamel sauce - was great.  Cheats way to cook eggplant is slice thinly then put in sandwich press - cooks pretty quick without all that oil.

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  10. Ingenious!! I'm trying it. Thanks for the tip :-)

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  11. Do you hate it when people resurrect old threads? Hmmm... sorry if you do. BUT, I just had to say that I pretty much want to cram that whole thing into my face. It looks crazy-delicious!

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  12. bahahaha  not when it's as funny as this! I pretty much did cram it in for the next two days. Excellent stuff.

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  13. Bek @ Just For DaisyAugust 27, 2012 at 2:54 PM

    Okay! I grabbed all of these ingredients today! Veggie mince was a hit when I asked the guy at Coles! Is it the one in a roll a little like the dog meat comes in! ;) Anyhew, it looks delicious and I can't wait to try it tonight! x

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  14. I have never in my life seen veggie mince like that! I get the Quorn mince from the freezer section... Comes in a bag! Did you get sanitarium loaf or something instead?

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  15. Bek @ Just For DaisyAugust 27, 2012 at 10:16 PM

    Yep! It was sanitarium loaf! hahahaha!! oh dear! Hubby not impressed... I ate it.. was okay... ! :)
    Will have to look in freezer section next time! Bummer!

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  16. haha yeah that's not one of the better faux meat products out there! I think it's more for sandwiches or something :-/

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