Vegetarian recipe: Mushroom and lentil moussaka (South Africa)

 

This hearty vegetarian dish was first served to us by Ardi Bardenhorst back when he was head winemaker at Rustenberg.

Now he has his own estate out in the Swartland and his sumptuous 'The Curator Red' is just the ticket to accompany it.

And with 12.5% off South African wines currently, you couldn't choose a better time to try this winning combination.

TIP: This dish can be made in advance and refrigerated once it has cooled after the 30 minutes cooking at 180 degrees. Remove from the fridge an hour before you need to reheat and put in the oven at 160 degrees for a further 30 minutes before serving.

Mushroom and lentil moussaka

INGREDIENTS (Serves 6)

600g aubergine

250g brown lentils, rinsed

300g mushrooms, sliced

400g tomatoes, skinned and chopped

10g brown sugar

2g ground cinnamon

2g salt

100g fresh parsley, chopped

500ml salted water

25ml olive oil

1 x large onion, chopped

1 x green pepper, de-seeded and diced

2 x garlic cloves, crushed

1 x bay leaf

Vegetable oil for frying

FOR THE TOPPING

50g butter

50g plain flour

375g grated cheese

2g grated nutmeg

500ml milk

2 x eggs, separated

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

METHOD

  1. After removing and discarding the ends, slice aubergines into 5cm rings and add these to a colander – salting them as you go along – and leave for 30 minutes before rinsing and patting dry with kitchen paper.
  2. Fry them in veg oil on a moderately low heat, using a large, heavy frying pan – keeping partly covered to prevent from absorbing too much oil.
  3. Meanwhile, boil lentils in the salted water for 50 minutes until soft, with most of it absorbed.
  4. Once aubergine slices are done, remove and set aside and use the pan to soften the onion, green pepper and garlic in the olive oil, before adding the mushrooms.
  5. When softened, add tomatoes, sugar, cinnamon, bay leaf, salt and parsley before covering and simmering for 20 minutes.
  6. Remove bay leaf and stir in the cooked lentils for a thick but moist mixture.
  7. In another pan, melt the butter and stir in the flour and cook for one minute before removing from the heat and very gradually adding the milk.
  8. Return to the stove and cook while stirring until thickened to make a white sauce.
  9. Beat eggs and add a small amount of the sauce to the eggs, whisking together.
  10. Add the mixture back into the saucepan and whisk constantly until combined before seasoning with salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste.
  11. Stiffly whisk the egg whites and fold these into the sauce as well.
  12. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees.
  13. Cover the base of a 20cm x 30cm oven dish with the aubergine slices, then spoon in some of the lentil mixture, then repeat this layering until used, before covering with the sauce and finally topping with the grated cheese.
  14. Bake for 30 minutes, then turn off the oven while leaving in the oven for a further 15 minutes (unless preparing in advance, as above).
  15. Serve with a simple green salad.

Enjoy with AA Badenhorst Family Wines The Curator Red, an unpretentious easy drinking bottle.