Moussaka with Cauliflower Béchamel

A few years ago we had an amazing holiday in Greece and although it was the height of summer I still enjoyed ordering moussaka.  It was absolutely delicious but also very rich and filling.  The other day across my Facebook feed came a "paleo moussaka" from Australia'a favourite Paleo Chef Pete Evans.  As a Nutritionist there are a few things I don't agree with about paleo eating (the exclusion of wholegrains and dairy) but there are a few things I love (plenty of veggies and lean protein).  I loved how the paleo recipe included cauliflower in the béchamel sauce and the layer of silver beet (swiss chard).   Cauliflower and silver beet are both a great source of Vitamin C.  Combining this with zinc from the lamb makes this a great immune boosting recipe for winter. I decided to combine the paleo recipe with a more traditional Greek recipe from George Colombaris to create a beautiful healthy moussaka.  


MOUSSAKA WITH CAULIFLOWER BÉCHAMEL

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggplant (about 450 g), sliced 1-cm thick
  • sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ bunch of silverbeet or kale (about 200 g), central stalks removed and leaves chopped
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 600 g lamb or beef mince
  • 1 red capsicum/red pepper, diced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried organo
  • 2 crushed cardamon pods
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 400g tins of crushed tomatoes

Cauliflower béchamel

  • ½ head cauliflower (about 550 g), processed into "rice"
  • 500 ml (2 cups) milk
  • 3 tablespoons arrowroot (see note)
  • 80g parmesan cheese, finely grated, plus extra to serve

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Cook the eggplant in batches in a frying pan with a little olive oil over med-high heat until lightly browned. Remove from the pan and set aside. Wipe the pan clean, add a little more olive oil and sauté the silverbeet or kale over medium heat for 2 minutes or until wilted. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  3. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in the frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes, or until softened. Stir in the lamb or beef mince and spices, breaking up any lumps with a spatula. Season with salt and pepper and cook until the meat is browned. Add the tinned tomatoes, mix to combine and simmer for 15 minutes. 
  4. Meanwhile, to make the cauliflower bechemal, bring half the milk to the boil with the cauliflower rice and simmer  for 15 minutes until very soft.  Process with a stick blender.  Whisk the arrowroot with the remaining  milk until combined. Turn the heat down to low and whisk in the milk and arrowroot mixture. Cook, whisking constantly, for 1 minute until the sauce has thickened. Remove from the heat and whisk in the grated cheese. Season with salt and pepper and allow to cool slightly.
  5. To assemble, lay half the eggplant slices in a single layer in a large baking dish. Spread the silverbeet or kale on top, then pour on the mince mixture. Add the remaining eggplant slices. Finally, pour over the cauliflower béchamel.  Sprinkle with extra parmesan.
  6. Bake for 40 minutes, or until lightly golden. Allow to stand for 15 minutes before cutting and serving with a simple green salad

Serves 6

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