Monday, 5 October 2009

Aubergine Moussaka

This is a wonderful vegetarian one pan meal from Nigella Lawson's How to Eat. The spices are warming and soothing but not hot or overpowering at all. The addition of chickpeas to the vegetable dish makes it perfect for a vegetarian main and leaves you pleasantly sated, while the feta and mint on top brighten and balance the meal perfectly.
I cook up batches of dried chickpeas at a time, keep them in the fridge, and use them for different dishes - but if you don't have any you could certainly use canned.

Aubergine Moussaka
How to Eat, Nigella Lawson
This is a Lebanese recipe, very different from the traditional Greek on of the same name. Boldly, strongly flavoured, but mellow, the spices and seasoning dovetail into a perfect, aromatic whole.

500g baby or large aubergines
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 to 2 onions, peeled and sliced thinly
10-12 small cloves of garlic, peeled and slivered thickly
150 g chickpeas, soaked, rinsed, drained and precooked
1 1/2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
500g tomatoes, rinsed, peeled, seeded and quartered
1 1/2 teaspoons salt or to taste
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
200 ml water
mint and feta to sprinkle over

Trim the stems of the baby aubergines.
Peel to look like Edwardian circus tents, leaving lengthways stripes about 1 1/4 cm wide.
If you’re using large aubergines instead, cut them into 1 1/4 cm cubes.
In a pan heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat and saute the aubergines for a few minutes until golden brown.
With a slotted spoon, remove to a side dish and reserve.
To the pan add the remaining oil, the onion and the garlic and saute, stirring constantly, until pale in colour and soft, about 5 minutes, adding more oil if necessary.
Add the cooked chickpeas and stir occasionally for 5 minutes, then add the pomegranate molasses.
Return the aubergines to the pan and add the tomatoes, sprinkle with salt, cinnamon, allspice and black pepper and add the water.
Bring to the boil and quickly reduce the heat to moderately low.
Cover and simmer for about an hour (they may be ready after 40 minutes or so if you’re using a large flat pan or the cubed large aubergines).
Serve warm with plenty of chopped mint and crumbled feta, and plenty of bread.
Printed recipe found on RecipeThing

To go with my Lebanese Moussaka, I made these Lavash crackers from Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice baking challenge. Click here for the recipe.
This is actually the third time I have made them, I baked them twice last year as part of a Daring Baker's challenge and was happy to make them again.
The Lavash crackers are also known as Armenian flatbreads and are seasoned with all sorts of fun spices. I used caraway, black caraway, nigella, paprika, sesame seeds, sumac, and Hawaiian sea salt.

The dough is rolled out thin - on a parchment is easiest, so you can move it after - decorated with the spices - I put a piece of wax paper over the seasoned dough and roll my pin over it to press them in - then sliced with a pizza roller and baked until crisp.
I used half whole wheat flour in the dough, cut a seam around the outside edge, and ate all the uneven edges when they came out of the oven!
That's the great thing about being a baker, you can eat the evidence.

These are totally addictive. I might have to forget to put them in hubby's lunch tomorrow...