The beautiful, bulbous, purple eggplants that are around at the moment totally inspired me to try a healthier version of the traditional Greek Moussaka. The meat sauce is absolutely packed with lovely veggies. Plus, there's no potato and I've substituted the rich creamy bechammel for a cauliflower-cheese sauce that is just as delicious but SO much lighter! Serve with steamed veggies or a gorgeous green salad and you've got a balanced meal that will walk right off the plate.
1kg lean beef mince
2-3 large eggplants
4 large zucchini
1 large cauliflower
1 large brown onion
1/2 bunch celery
3 large carrots
1 large red capsicum
300g chopped mushrooms
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (I used the dried kind)
1 1/2 cups grated pizza blend cheese - this is a mix of cheddar and mozzarella. Hot tip: Pizza cheese has only 10 calories per serve more than light cheese and tastes way better! There's also a couple of good pasta bake blends that melt really nicely too.
1 small tub tomato paste
2 x 400g tins crushed tomato
2tsp crushed garlic
3Tbsp Mediterranean herb paste (I used Gourmet Garden)
1/4 cup brown sugar
2Tbsp balsamic vinegar
Olive oil for basting grilled veggies and greasing your pans
To prepare your oven roasted veg;
Pre-heat your oven to approx 180 degrees (fan forced) and line as many roasting trays as will fit in your oven with baking paper
Slice the eggplant and zucchini into thin-ish strips about 1/2cm wide
Place eggplant slices on your baking trays and brush lightly with olive oil, turn over and repeat on the other side.
Bake until eggplant is golden brown on both sides, oven temperatures vary so just keep checking them, they should take between 20-40mins
Bake your zucchini slices in the same manner, I bake both veggies separately as zucchini has more water in it and tends to take a little longer. Plus all that veg doesn't fit in my oven in one go!
Chop your carrots, capsicum and celery - to make life easy I shove the whole lot through a food processor on a thin slicing blade
Finely dice brown onion and brown with garlic and olive oil in a large, hot saucepan
Add your chopped celery, carrot and herb paste and cook until soft
Add the beef mince and cook until brown
Add the tomato paste and cook for another 5 mins
Throw in the mushrooms, two cans of tomato, brown sugar, balsamic and salt & pepper to taste
Reduce over a low heat for approx 45min, stirring occasionally. The longer the better!
Wash your cauliflower and cut into florets, if some of the stalk gets involved, don't stress.
Steam in about 1 cup chicken stock, I don't get fancy here I used salt reduced powdered stock and chucked the whole lot in the microwave for around 15minutes
Throw the cauliflower into a food processor and add just enough stock to make it creamy without being watery. Usually around 1/2 cup but go easy, it depends on the size of your cauliflower.
Add the parmesan and blend until the mixture is creamy, no need to cook or reduce this before assembling as the oven will do the work for you.
Lightly grease the bottom of a large casserole dish and layer your eggplant, then zucchini followed by meat sauce then 'béchamel' repeat until you've reached the top (my pyrex dish only held two layers). There is always enough meat left over to feed the mini-punks for a meal or two, bonus!
Top the whole lot with the grated cheese and bake at 160degrees fan forced for approx 20mins or until the cheese goes golden.
Macros (just in case you give a toss): Cals: 414 Carbs: 24.4g Fat: 13.6g Protein 33g