Another kind of moussaka

This one doesn’t have potato in it, uses courgettes instead of aubergines, minced beef instead of lamb and has a cheesy bechamel sauce as the topping, instead of the yoghurt and feta cheese”custard” of my other version.

The recipe comes from Claudia Roden’s superb and authoritative Book of Middle-Eastern Food. I have an old Penguin paperback of this book and it is one of those essential sources of information that anyone who is interested in this kind of food really has to own.

Here is the version I made, it is slightly different to the original, but it is one that works every time.

You will need;

3 good sized courgettes
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 large cloves of garlic, crushed
500g minced beef
Half a teaspoon ground allspice
1 tin of plum tomatoes, blended into a reasonably smooth passata
A handful of chopped parsley
About half a pint of bechamel sauce with Emmenthal cheese grated in and amalgamated

Slice the courgettes into rounds about as thick as a pound coin and sauté on both sides in olive oil. Remove the courgettes and let them drain.

In the same pan and using the same oil, fry the onions until softened with the garlic and then add the beef and carry on frying until the meat is browned. Add the allspice, salt and pepper and the parsley and stir in the puréed tomatoes. Cook on a low heat until the meat and tomato sauce is nicely reduced and everything is cooked.

Layer the courgettes and meat sauce in an oven-proof dish and top with the cheesy bechamel sauce. Bake in a Mark 6 (180C) oven until the top is golden and bubbling.

Serve with salad and some nice bread or pittas to mop up the sauce.

A nice robust red wine works best here, something with Grenache, Syrah and other Mediterranean grape varieties, a Côtes du Rhône or a Côteaux du Languedoc perhaps.

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