Monday, 14 January 2013

"Lassaka Mousagne"

NAME: _Lassaka Mousagne

INGREDIENTS/UTENSILS:
Vegetables:
3 - 4 baby eggplants
3 - 4 courgettes
2 brown onions
4 cloves garlic
fresh oregano leaves, chopped (enough to make about 1/3 cup)
fresh mint leaves, chopped (enough to make the above to 1/2 cup total)
bunch of silver beet
1 tin chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 cups chicken stock
fresh lasagne pasta sheets
1 cup blended EVOO and RBO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Rice Bran Oil)
2 cups water, or chicken stock, or one of each.

Bechamel:
100g butter
1 cup milk
2 tbsp plain flour
200g grated cheese

Salt and Pepper to taste

METHOD:
Peel the eggplants and courgettes (as you fry off each lot, preferably, to avoid the eggplant turning brown) and cut into 7mm or so slices. (Thicker than 1/2cm, thinner than 1cm.) As you peel each eggplant, fry the slices to a crisp brown on each side using the oil as necessary. Place on absorbent paper or slices of stale bread to drain, set aside.

Slice the onion to a similar thickness, add two cloves garlic sliced thin, and fry until onions are light brown, transfer to pot. Deglaze the pan with about 1/2 cup water or chicken stock, set aside. Add chopped oregano and mint to the pot, turn over medium heat until fragrant, then add the deglazing liquid from the pan and the remaining stock, the tinned tomatoes and the tomato paste, season with salt and pepper. Add the remaining two cloves of garlic, crushed to paste. Simmer for an hour, until reduced.

Wash the silver beet and trim out the stems. Assemble the lasagne by lining the bottom of the pan with silver beet leaves, placing a few fried eggplant and courgette slices, and the first sheets of lasagne pasta to line from edge to edge.

Spread a few spoonfuls of the reduced tomato sauce over the pasta sheets, add slices of eggplant and courgette, spread more sauce, then some more silver beet leaves, spread more tomato sauce. Continue these layers until dish is close to full. (Don't put the top layer of pasta on until ready to cover with bechamel, otherwise it will curl.)

Make the bechamel by melting butter over medium heat, adding the flour, then the liquids, then the grated cheese, salt and pepper to taste. Adjust to a quite thick consistency. Place last layer of pasta over the silver beet, spread the bechamel over the top.

Bake in 170 degree oven for an hour. Allow to stand for 10 - 15 minutes once cooked.

SERVING:
With a green side salad, can serve up to 8 people.

NOTES:
I started off with ingredients for a moussaka, then decided to make a vegetable lasagne instead. The secret is to use HEAPS more herbs than you'd think comfortable, because the flavour consolidates over the hour of simmering. Also, because of using fresh pasta sheets, the tomato sauce and bechamel need to be less moist than normal.

ENJOY!

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