As a person who grew up in Greece I get asked for Moussaka recipes all the time. Moussaká is really as diverse as each household. Go to http://www.instagram.com/lias_kitchen to read what differentiates Moussaká from other bakes!
In this post we want to demystify one of the most popular dishes of modern Greek cooking. My usual béchamel sauce is one where milk is flavoured with mace or nutmeg in advance and then slowly heated whilst you slowly add flour, butter and one egg. Not really a roux method but something we call Kourkoúti. But to make things simple for you we recommend you make a béchamel (or morney) sauce you know how to make and have provided a link to a BBC recipe.
In the past year I have made Moussaka with what I have. I always have uncooked lentils in my store cupboard and love using them for a vegetarian, use-what-you-have version of the dish. Use 300 to 500g of minced beef if that’s what you prefer. The authentic Moussaka in my mum’s kitchen uses two layers of aubergine but potato is just fine particularly when your vegetable box has too many potatoes you need to use up.
Enjoy our delicious recipe below!
⁃ 3/4 to 1 cup or mug uncooked lentils (brown or green or black)
⁃ 1 onion, chopped
⁃ 3 allspice berries, crushed (optional)
⁃ 1/2 cup white wine
⁃ 3 to 4 garlic cloves, finely shopped
⁃ 1 tin chopped tomatoes
⁃ 500ml hot water (2cups)
⁃ 30g chopped parsley
⁃ Bay leaf (optional)
⁃ 1 egg beaten
⁃ 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
⁃ 250g crumbled or greater goat or ewe’s cheese such as feta, Abergavenny goat, manchego, pecorino or graviera.
⁃ 1 béchamel portion of your choice
⁃ Mace + bay leaf or just grated nutmeg to flavour
⁃ Half kg potatoes or as many it takes to fill a medium baking tray, sliced in circles of 1.5 to 2cm thickness
⁃ Mix of vegetable and olive oil to shallow fry
1. Soak the lentils for an hour or two (optional).
2. Start with making the lentil filling.
3. Fry the onion in 2tbsp. Olive oil with a pinch of salt for 5min.
4. Add the drained lentils, a pinch of pepper and the crashed allspice berries and fry for a couple of minutes.
5. Add the wine, stir and follow with the tinned tomatoes & hot water.
6. Add another couple of pinches of salt, the bay leaf (if using) and the chopped parsley.
7. Cover and simmer for 30.
8. Whilst the sauce is simmering make a béchamel portion of your choice and fry the potatoes till mostly cooked.
9. Use 2-3 Tbsp. Vegetable oil and 2 Tbsp. Olive oil to fry the potatoes.
10. Make sure to cool down the lentil sauce before adding the beaten egg, cheese or mix of cheeses your choice and breadcrumbs. Taste and season if necessary.
11. In a medium baking tray at least 10cm deep, layer the potatoes, the lentil sauce smoothed across the surface and then the bechamel sauce.
12. If you want sprinkle with some more breadcrumbs and cheese.
13. Bake in an 170 Celsius degree fan oven for 45 min or until golden.
We have joined forces with Ty Caws cheesemongers in Wales to tell you why we think you should give ewe’s or sheep’s milk cheese a go. Contact our friend Owen and place your order for that cheese now! Or attend some of the forthcoming Farmer’s markets in Wales where Owen and the team showcase cheese we love to eat.
To help you take that step to loving ewe, we are sharing an easy, baked cheese recipe for the fantastic & award winning #fettle cheese from Shepherd’s Purse in Yorkshire. You can order #fettle from Ty Caws or get it at forthcoming farmers market in Cardiff. We also recommend Brefu raw ewe’s milk cheese from Cosyn Cymru (uses thistle rennet so it is truly vegetarian).
Here is why we think you should eat Ewe’s milk cheese:
1. It’s so tasty! If you are not so hot on goat cheese (which we also love by the way) why not try some sheep or ewe milk cheese instead? You might actually like it.
2. It is digestible! A great alternative to cow’s milk cheese and an overall much more digestible dairy product for most humans!
3. You support UK sheep farmers who really need our help to survive during these hard times. Shepherd’s Purse Cheese company recently increased its investment in a sheep farmer collective it supports to ensure the production of fettle and other sheep’s milk cheeses. Every slice you buy it from Ty Caws in Wales this helps some sheep farmer continue having the demand to sustain a dairy producing herd. How great is that?
Bougiourntí Baked Fettle Recipe
- 150g Fettle cheese
- 1 mild green chilli pepper, sliced in rings
- 5-6 cherry tomatoes or two small tomatoes sliced
- Two sprigs of fresh oregano or a generous amount of dried oregano
- Two springs of fresh thyme from the garden (optional)
- 5-6 Tbsp Greek extra virgin olive oil
- Place a 20cm by 20Cm square aluminium foil sheet on a chopping board and fold sides in slightly to contain the olive oil you will use.
- Drizzle half the olive oil on the bottom of the foil, add the oregano springs or pinch, the thyme sprigs if you are using, half the sliced chilli pepper and half the sliced tomatoes.
- Place the slab of fettle cheese on top of the ingredients.
- Top with the rest of the oregano, thyme, pepper, tomatoes and olive oil.
- Fold the foil sides in and then downwards to create a baking purse. Rather than acking the foil tightly and flat fold like you would a brown paper bad and allow an air gap for the roasting.
- If you have a small lidded pot use that instead of aluminium foil.
- Bake for 20 min on 180 degrees Celsius in the oven.
- Cool for a couple of minutes before serving. Eat with plenty of bread to enjoy the juices of the baked cheese, seasonal veg, herds and olive oil.
Whilst Fettle uses a feta cheese making method it is not feta but it is utterly delicious. It seems less ‘pickled’ than Greek feta cheese and is therefore less tangy! But as the sheep herds graze on grassier plains the cheese is creamier, nuttier and denser in texture (as well as salty enough to make it distinct). When baked its texture changes beautifully to be a little bit more chewy (like halloumi on a grill). We also loved it in fresh tomato salads with salted onions and generous amount of extra virgin olive oil.
Lia’s Kitchen is a community interest company which aims to raise awareness on independent, sustainable and local food producers and suppliers as part of its objectives. We seek out local knowledge to raise awareness of such produce. We also aim to raise awareness on food which is accessible to people with health conditions and dietary restrictions – ewe’s milk cheese makes dairy products accessible to those with cow milk intolerance or allergies. Whilst were given free samples of the ewe’s milk cheese we were not obliged to write about it or to recommend its consumption Please make sure you do not consumer dairy products if you are allergic to all dairy! . We were not paid for this feature.
National Vegetarian Week in May 2019 coincided with a new crop of cauliflower from one of our organic vegetable suppliers, so we thought it is best to share one of our best kept secrets. Cauliflower rice is a recipe which became a regular dish in our kitchen since 2015. We decided to share this at Riverside Real Food Roath Farmers’ Market two weeks ago for one of their community events. It is an easy and quick alternative to grain rice and a great additional side dish to your dinner table. It’s versatility also makes it the perfect addition to lunch boxes, picnics and barbeque tables.
This recipe is inspired by south American and Caribbean flavours. Think lots of lime, a bunch of coriander and a combination of caramelised onion and garlic. And did we say its vegan and gluten free? Cauliflower is a wonderful vehicle of flavours and you can adjust this recipe to take other flavour notes. Other cauliflower dishes we love include the Greek steamed cauliflower salad in lemon and extra virgin olive oil, cauliflower base pizza and deep-fried cauliflower nuggets (the current vegan craze).
- 1 large cauliflower head, grated
- 2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
- 30g coriander, chopped
- Juice of two limes
- ½ tsp pepper
- 1-1.5tsp fine sea salt ff
- Heat the olive oil in a wide, non-stick pan. You will need your widest pan for this.
- Add the finely chopped onion with a generous pinch of salt. Lower the heat and sauté for 10-15 minutes, until the onion slightly caramelises. Don’t forget to stir occasionally to make sure the onion browns evenly.
- Cut the florets off the cauliflower and chop the stem into small chunks.
- Grate the whole cauliflower to rice grains size. The easiest way to do this is through a food processor (pulse in batches to reach the grain like consistency). But you can also grate by hand on the large side of your grater.
- Add the minced garlic to the onion stirring well and stir fry for another 2-3 minutes.
- Increase the heat to medium, add the cauliflower in three batches, stirring well to coat the cauliflower grains with the oil and onion/garlic flavour.
- After 10-15 minutes of stir frying add the lime juice and salt, stir quickly and thoroughly and remove from heat and cover.
- Add the finely chopped coriander and freshly ground pepper.
- Taste to check if you need more salt or lime.
Try making a masala cauliflower rice with a bit of chilli sauce and some chopped tomatoes. Or an Italian flavoured one with basil, garlic and parmesan. Yum!
Fáva is a velvety, smooth dip very popular in the taverns and homes of Greece. Not to be confused with the fava bean or broad bean, it is usually made with yellow split peas. Occasionally it is also made with dried and broken fava beans (κουκιά) but that dish has a light, green colour instead of its usual pale, mustard-yellow. It is usually served cold with chopped onion, lemon juice and a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. But mother often fed us warm fava for a filling and nutritious meal – and we loved it. My favourite fáva flavour has a Cretan inspiration. Toasted cumin seeds and fried onion flavour my fáva recipe whilst roasted tomatoes and often caramelised onions are also paired or ‘married’ with it, as the Cretans say. Fáva can be paired beautifully with lamb but also octopus. It is nutritious and filling, and an impressive alternative to Hummus.
- 1 cup (around 250g) yellow split peas
- 500ml vegetable stock
- 1 small onion, quartered
- 1 garlic clove, peeled
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- 1 – 2 tbsp. lemon juice
- Olive oil
- Salt (optional)
- Pepper (optional)
- Rinse the yellow split peas well and place in a sieve.
- Add enough oil to coat the base of a medium pot (2 to 3 tablespoons).
- Add the onion, garlic clove, bay leaf and cumin seeds, and stir fry for around 5 minutes till the onion slightly softens.
- Toss in the yellow split peas and coat well in the oil and flavours.
- Add the boiling hot stock and bring to a low simmer for up to 40 minutes.
- At the beginning the mixture might froth. If this happens remove the froth with a slotted spoon.
- Half an hour into cooking check whether the dish requires additional water so that it does not stick to the pan.
- When cooked the peas should be getting mushy when mixed and should not have a bite.
- Take off the heat, remove the bay leaf, add the lemon juice and cream the mixture with a hand blender.
- You can serve mixed in with roasted tomatoes and topped with caramelised onions.
- Yellow split peas are not the same as chana daal (yellow split lentils) commonly used in Indian cooking. You can source great quality, British grown, organic peas online through hodmedods.co.uk.
- Good quality ingredients make a great dip, so as well as using Hodmedods yellow split peas, I recommend you source use good quality extra virgin olive oil for this dip. Some of my choices include Oliveology, the Olive Press in Ludlow and The Greek Secret olive oils.
This Wasteless dip is inspired by my Greek heritage. Skordalia is a popular dip which can be made with stale bread or potatoes. My favourite is the one using bread. It is a kind of bread sauce, brought to life by walnuts, sharp vinegar flavours, garlic and extra virgin olive oil. It is traditionally served with deep fried salt cod and once you start you can’t stop eating it. At Wasteless suppers we usually serve it with smoked paprika temperate vegetable and cucumber slices.
- 200g leftover bread, soaked in water and well drained
- 1 large handful walnuts
- 3 tbsp. white wine vinegar
- 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
- 60 ml extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. pepper (optional)
- a generous pinch of grated nutmeg (optional)
1. Soak the bread slices with the crust in some water until soft.
2. Squeeze out the water well with your hands and place in a food processor.
3. Add the garlic cloves crushed. You can add more garlic but the longer you leave the dip in the fridge the stronger it becomes.
4. Top with the walnuts, salt and pepper/nutmeg and olive oil and blitz until lovely and creamy.
5. Taste to adjust the salt and vinegar levels. The vinegar really makes this dip special so if you feel something is missing add another teaspoon.
6. This dip is absolutely delicious with raw vegetable, as an accompaniment to salads, with tempura vegetable and fried fish (in the traditional Greek way).
The resurgence of nettle, wild garlic and other foraged greens cooking is a delight to me. I still think that eating and foraging wild greens is a skill that needs more nurturing to become part of our yearly eating calendar. I don’t mean that you have to see nettles on supermarket isles to be able to say they are back. I am not talking about food trends. I am talking about making wild green habit and seasonal eating more of a habit for life.
This nettle pie is a simple way to connect with wild greens that are available in abundance in your surroundings in Spring. Turn the TV off. Take a stroll into your local forest or park. Pick, cook and taste. Have a look and hopefully be inspired by this video.
Whilst I may have skipped a month of sharing recipe ideas with you inspired about one of my favourite places in Wales, it seems that the summer crop that has done so well on Blaencamel Farm’s land this summer keeps going strong this first week of September. This year the almighty broad bean has inspired various summer version of one of my favourite Greek dishes, Spetzofai, a stew which hails from beautiful Pelion on the Greek mainland (the land of the Cyclopes).
This simple sausage stew requires flavoursome, good quality sausages containing at least leek with a hint of spice, fresh seasonal vegetable and beans. The freshly podded broad beans make for a lighter and quicker version of the dish. To replace the broad beans chose either giant (Lima/Butter) beans or cannellini. As I am always inspired by my Greek heritage, Welsh producers and my local farmers’ market so I recommend you use Charcutier’s Italian fennel or their Thyme sausages for this recipe. The stew follows the same cooking method as the July 2017 Fasolakia dish which is popular in Greek cuisine. You can adapt it to make your own vegan, vegetarian and meat dishes Greek-Stylee. As usual you can source most of the recipes at the Roath and Riverside Farmers’ Market in Cardiff as well as other farmer market locations supplied by the farm in Wales.
Ingredients (for 4 people)
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 pack Charcutier Italian Fennel or Thyme sausages, in chunky cubes (280 g)
- 1 bag Blaencamel farm broad beans, podded (250g when podded)
- 2 Blaencamel bell peppers, halved, seeded and sliced
- ½ Blaencamel Hungarian wax pepper
- 4 Charlotte potatoes, washed and halved with skin on
- Optional – half a pack of Blaencamel farm spinach (200g)
- 1 bunch of parsley, roughly chopped
- 1 Tbsp. tomato paste or 1 large tomato grated
- ½ glass white whine
- 1.5-2 tsp. sea salt
- 0.5 tsp. ground black pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 parmento/all spice berries
- Olive oil or extra virgin olive oil
Preparation (60 min)
- Coat the base of a wide pot with enough olive oil to cover it.
- When the oil is hot add the cubed sausage and sauté until browned.
- Add the onion, peppers, one teaspoon sea salt and sauté until the onion softens.
- Add the tomato paste or grated tomato and fry for a couple of minutes stirring well.
- Add the chunky cubed potatoes, beans of your choice and roughly chopped spinach. Stir fry for a couple of minutes until they are well coated in tomato paste and oil.
- Add the wine and the chopped parsley. Stir well.
- Add half to one tsp of sea salt and enough boiling water to almost cover the veg and meat (but don’t submerge them).
- Stir well but before you place the lid on the pot to simmer for around 40 minutes, try to push the meat and potatoes to the bottom of the pot and the beans and courgettes closer to the top so that they steam.
- From this point on do not stir so that your vegetable does not fall apart when cooked.
- The dish is ready when the water has reduced but not fully evaporated.
- Set aside for 20-30 minutes. Or for a real Greek meal enjoy (cold or in room temperature) the next day.
Enjoy with a chilled glass of Greek Agiorgitiko Wine .
May is the period of the hungry gap but at Blaencamel Farm where, during this period of summer anticipation , they continue to grow nourishing greens. Gem and pink, and green Battavia lettuce have appeared on the stall. There is spinach, sweetheart cabbage, wild and green garlic. Whilst the seasonal bouquet garni can complement the dill that makes this spring soup so special.
May’s recipe is a Greek traditional Easter soup with a Welsh and clean-eating twist! Mageiritsa is traditionally cooked with lamb’s liver and plenty of greens and salad leaves. This is a vegetarian version and could be made vegan if you choose to not use avgolemono, the egg-lemon sauce typical of many Greek recipes. If you live in Wales what makes this Mageiritsa extra special is using dried kelp from Pembrokeshire. And the final Greek note is the use of the tangy and sharp sea buckthorn berry, which is becoming a staple in my cooking this year.
Visit www.liaskitchen.com for more ideas and monthly seasonal recipes inspired by Blaencamel Farm’s crops.
Ingredients (4-6 portions)
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 -2 leeks, finely chopped
- 1 green garlic or 1 bunch of wild garlic
- 500-700g finely chopped mixed Blaencamel greens, such as spinach, lettuce and/or sweetheart cabbage
- 500g mushrooms, Blaencamel farm or chestnut if they are not available
- 1 punnet of mixed Blaencamel farm herbs (fennel, sage, mint, thyme) (Optional)
- 1 finely chopped bunch of dill or 1 tbsp. tried dill
- 2 Tbsp. uncooked rice
- 1 heaped tsp. Pembrokeshire Beach Company Kelp or other dried/crumbled sea weed (optional)
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- ½ tsp. ground black pepper
- 1 tsp. sea buckthorn berries roughly chopped (optional)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Around 2 litres of stock
For the Avgolemono sauce:
- 1 small egg
- Juice of one small lemon
Preparation (45 minutes)
- Coat the base of a deep pot with olive oil and sauté the onion and leeks with one teaspoon of salt until soft and translucent.
- Add the cubed mushrooms (2 -3 cm chunks) and sauté for 2-5 minutes.
- Add the finely chopped herbs, wild or fresh garlic and greens, and stir fry for a couple of minutes.
- Then add the stock, stir well and (if you are using) add the dried kelp or other sea weed, pepper and sea buckthorn berries.
- Simmer for about 10 minutes and then add the rice.
- After 20 minutes (when the rice has softened and soup has thickened) remove from the hob.
- Beat the egg really well until it is fluffy and creamy (around 5 minutes), and whilst you continue whisking gradually add the lemon juice.
- Take one ladle of hot stock from the soup, strain through a fine sieve and add the hot stock slowly to the egg-lemon mixture whilst still whisking on low speed or by hand.
- Finally add the thinned egg-lemon and stock juice to the hot soup stirring in well to make sure it flavours and thickens all of the soup.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
In April return to Greece for culinary inspiration. This month’s recipe is a risotto dish much loved in my homeland and to make it I am using seasonal organic Greens from Blaencamel Farm in West Wales. The key difference of this Greek risotto, called ‘Spanako-rizo’ or ‘Spanakoprasó-rizo’ is that it is less complicated in its cooking process (when compared to its Italian cousin) and it uses a lot of greens as the star ingredient rather than focussing on making a creamy rice. Whilst the rice is also added before the water it does not follow the Italian risotto method and you add all the water at once simmering the rice slowly to complete the dish.
Traditionally this dish is made with a rice called Karolina. In the UK, you can find this in Greek specialty shops, but also on the shelves of many of the Middle Eastern shops where you should seek it as Egyptian Rice. It is a short grain variety which keeps its bite when compared to Arborio. If you cannot find Karolina/Egyptian rice why not try Thai Jasmin rice which I find is a great replacement for many Greek recipes. In fact, as I am not a purist, I recommend that you try this dish with all rice varieties to find your preferred version.
Chard is regarded a wild green in Greece and has traditionally been foraged. Now cultivated widely in farms such as Blaencamel it has become a staple of our diet in the UK. Which is why I am using it together with spinach. Its meatier leaves, organic spinach, delicious Welsh leeks, foraged wild garlic and wonderful onions complete this version of the dish. In fact, Blaencamel farm’s April box will include all the ingredients you need to make your Greek Risotto. A perfect gift of the emerging Spring time and a great dish to help your body detox the heavy flavours of winter!
Ingredients (4 portions)
- 300g Blaencamel leeks (1 bunch), sliced
- 450g spinach (1 bag), roughly chopped
- 450g chard (1 bag), roughly chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 bunch wild garlic
- ¾ cup of rice
- Juice of one small lemon
- 1 tsp. tomato paste
- Up to 2 tsp. sea salt
- ½ tsp. black ground pepper
- 1 tbsp. sea buckthorn berries (optional)
- 1 finely chopped bunch of dill or 1 tbsp tried dill
- Extra virgin olive oil
Preparation (30 minutes)
1. Coat the base of a 20cm pot with olive oil and sauté the onion and leeks with one tsp of salt until soft and translucent.
2. Add the tomato paste and stir well.
3. Gradually add the chopped greens (spinach, chard, wild garlic) so that wilt slightly.
4. Add the raw rice and mix well.
5. If using chop the sea buckthorn berries roughly or crush and add to the rice and green.
6. Add the lemon juice, around two cups of boiling water, dill (if adding), another teaspoon of sea salt and the pepper.
7. Simmer for 20 minutes or until the water is absorbed.
8. Serve with more crushed sea buckthorn, some feta cheese and drizzle with raw olive oil.