Moussaka-style dishes, with meat or otherwise, involve quite a deal of labour. You have to slice aubergines, paint them with olive oil, and fry or bake them. You have to prepare any other vegetables individually, because they have different cooking times and you don’t want to end up with a vegetable mush. If you’re eating meat, you have to prepare a ragout. But for a dinner for two, at the end of the week, I could not be bothered to go through this palaver. How bad could it be if I baked the vegetables together, topped them with a bechamel, and baked the dish further? Not bad at all.
I put 2 chopped cloves of garlic, a sliced aubergine, 2 chopped red peppers, and a sliced courgette, with salt and pepper, into a heavy casserole dish. I tossed the vegetables with a generous quantity of olive oil, and put them into a gas mark 8/220C oven for half an hour, stirring regularly. By this time, the aubergines were tender. I stirred in a drained tin of chickpeas. I turned down the oven to gas mark 5/190C.
Meanwhile, I had made a tomato sauce, simply tipping a tin of tomatoes into a saucepan, adding salt, a few pinches of cayenne, and a tsp of sugar. I mashed the tomatoes with a potato masher, and simmered them until they were thick. I stirred the tomatoes into the vegetable mixture.
I made a bechamel (see this moussaka recipe) with about 30g butter, a tbsp of flour (I used gluten-free), and just under half a pint of milk – it made a thick, pasty sauce. I stirred in a couple of tbsps of Parmesan, and seasoned the sauce with salt and nutmeg. Now that it was cooler, I stirred in a beaten egg – it causes the sauce when baked to puff up, souffle-like.
I spread the sauce over the vegetable mixture, sprinkled a couple of tbsps of Parmesan on top, and baked the dish for 25 minutes. Then, I browned the top under the grill.
This was a meal by itself.