We're all dreaming of warmer climes, and with the prospect of holidays slipping further from our grasp i thought i'd post one of my favourite mediterranean dishes to give you a virtual boost of sunshine. Rich with garlicky tomato, lamb, aubergine and halloumi. This one pot wonder strangely and deliciously checks both the summer and the comfort food boxes.
Ingredients for meat sauce
500g Lean lamb mince
1 400g jar passata
4 large tomatoes chopped
4 fat garlic cloves chopped
2 small red onions finely chopped
1 green pepper finely chopped
2 sticks celery finely chopped
1 cinnamon stick
2 tbsp dried mint
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 lamb stock cube
1 large glass red wine
1 tbsp sugar.
3 bay leaves.
handful of fresh shredded mint leaves.
2 large aubergines sliced into 1 cm rounds
2 tbsp fine salt
3 large or 4 medium potatoes peeled and sliced into 1 cm rounds (maris piper work well)
Ingredients for bechamel sauce
4 tbsp plain flour
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 block of halloumi finely grated
250g thick greek set yoghurt
1 large egg yolk
1 bay leaf
1/2 block halloumi grated
Start with the aubergine, these need salting to remove the bitterness.
Slice the aubergines and place in a colander and liberally sprinkle with 2 tbsp fine salt, leave covered in clingfilm in the sink to drain for 2 hours then rinse and pat dry.
I like to roll them up in a clean tea towel until I'm ready to use.
Peel and slice 4 medium sized potatoes about 1cm thick. don't cook all the way through. (i usually just bring to the boil from cold and drain.)
now set aside for assembly with the aubergines.
Now on to the meat sauce.
Fry the lamb mince in a large heavy bottomed stove top pan or casserole dish and drain excess fat.
Add onions, peppers, celery and garlic and gently fry until softened.
Add tomatoes, passata, oregano, dried mint, bayleaves, wine, stock cube, cumin, cinnamon stick, and a cupful of water and set to a high heat until boiling.
Now turn the heat right down and simmer stirring occasionally for 2 hours.
Your meat sauce should thicken, reduce and be the consistency of bolognese.
Fish out the cinnamon stick and bay leaves.
Now its time to make the Béchamel sauce.
Add the nutmeg and a bay leaf to the milk and pop in microwave for a couple of minutes until hot.
In a medium sized saucepan add butter and melt over a medium heat.
Add the flour and cook and stir until it resembles a doughy paste.
incrementally add the hot milk beating well with each addition until you have a pourable thick white sauce.
Finely grate in half a block of halloumi cheese until melted.
Now add greek yoghurt and finally beat through the egg yolk. season to taste.
Time to assemble!
Preheat the oven to 180c
Using a large deep oven dish (30cm x 30cm or similar) lightly coat in olive oil.
Now place an overlapping layer of aubergine slices on the bottom.
Cover with a layer of meat sauce.
Now an overlapping layer of parboiled potato.
Cover with a layer of meat sauce.
Now a layer of overlapping aubergine.
Cover with a generous layer of béchamel.
Top with coarsely grated halloumi and a few aubergine slices (optional)
Cook for 40 minutes on 180c. the top should be puffy crisp and golden brown.
Allow to cool down for 5-10 minutes prior to serving, the interior is molten!!!!
Enjoy with a good glass of greek white wine, and a fresh crisp salad.
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