Moussaka

Moussaka

We received Mary McCartney’s cookbook “At My Table” as a gift this past Christmas, and I’ve been impressed with its contents. The ideas are good, and the recipes are accessible to the amateur chef.

Mary McCartney is one of Paul McCartney’s daughters, and she’s a vegetarian, like her parents.

I like to use her cookbook as a basis for riffing. I’m an intuitive cook; I tend not to follow recipes exactly. I think of it like covering a song as a musician: Once I have the basic idea, I want to put my own spin on it.

For McCartney’s moussaka recipe, I perused the ingredient list to get an idea of the basic elements, then I used my own intuitive measurements (which is to say, I didn’t really measure; I just went with amounts I thought would taste good).

I also added a mix of ground beef and ground lamb to enhance the flavor profile. (Vegetarians can leave out the meat, of course.)

I left out the eggplant in McCartney’s recipe to simplify the ingredients a little.

Ingredients:

1 cup lentils
1 large potato, chopped
1 can chickpeas
olive oil
2 small onions, chopped
1/2 garlic head, minced
1/2 lb. ground beef
1/2 lb. ground lamb
soy sauce to taste
1 marinara bottle
1/2 cup red wine
thyme to taste
pepper to taste
paprika to taste
basil or oregano to taste

White sauce:

3.5 tbsp. butter
1/2 cup flour
2.5 cups milk
1/2-3/4 pack of cheddar
1/2 cup feta
2 eggs, beaten

Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a large pot and start cooking the lentils. About 15 min. into boiling, add the potato and chickpeas. When these ingredients are cooked, drain and return to pot with a generous pour of olive oil. Stir in the onion, garlic, beef and lamb, and add the soy sauce, marinara, red wine, thyme, pepper, paprika and basil/oregano. Add more olive oil if preferred. Simmer for 15-30 min. to get the ingredients to marry.

When the filling is cooked, preheat the oven to 350 deg F, and start the white sauce on the stove top. In a small pot, melt the butter, then whisk in the rest of the sauce ingredients, except for the eggs. When the sauce has a smooth consistency, remove from heat and stir in the eggs.

Place the filling in a Pyrex, then top with the white sauce. Bake until sauce is golden brown.