Finding healthy recipes that your children will love is a really tricky thing to get right, I’m lucky that both of my children will try new flavours and dishes but there are still times when I have to improvise and disguise certain vegetables like Aubergine.
One of the healthiest, tastiest and most versatile ingredients that meat eaters can buy is lean red meat and experts actually recommend including it in children’s diets from weaning onwards. Red meat provides a range of important nutrients that can be low in toddlers and children such as iron, zinc, B vitamins, selenium and potassium.
I was challenged to create a delicious recipe using beef, pork or lamb in the #HealthyRedMeat challenge sponsored by the Meat Advisory panel. My brief was to bring a little variety and inspire some enticing ways to include red meat into my family diet. As I don’t eat Pork that left me two choices, Beef or Lamb – a quick trip to the supermarket had me inspired to go Greek (or Greek style) with a tasty and nutritious Moussaka.
I must be honest and say that midweek we don’t eat a great deal of red meat, as I work full time I usually look for quick meals I can make using Fish or Chicken and as red meat often gets a lot of bad press we try to limit ourselves. Dr Emma Derbyshire, a public health nutritionist and mother says: “Including a small portion of red meat in the diet a few times a week after weaning can help to bridge nutrient gaps and so help to maintain good health through childhood and beyond.”
To make my Greek Style Moussaka (I’m calling it this as i’m not sure how authentic my version is) you will need:
2 Aubergines (chopped into bite sized chunks)
2 jars of crushed tomato (tinned tomato would work well)
40g cheddar cheese (grated)
2 cloves of garlic (crushed)
1 Onion (finely chopped)
1 lamb stock cube ((Vegetable would work well)dissolved in 100ml of water)
1 bay leaf (dried)
1.5 tbsp Oregano (dried)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
10g Fresh Parsley (chop the stalks and leaves seperately)
400g Potato (sliced into discs)
400g minced lamb
60g Butter (unsalted)
60g flour (plain)
700ml Milk (Semi Skimmed)
Olive oil (vegetable or rapeseed works well)
Salt & Pepper to taste
Preheat your oven to 180 and get out an oven proof dish, 1 pan for potatoes, 1 pan for the meat sauce and one pan for the Cheese sauce.
Add your potato slices to a large pan of water and cook until they are almost tender, once cooked you can drain them and leave them to one side.
Heat a large pan with a drizzle of oil over a medium heat and add your onion and aubergine, cook until the onion starts to soften but not brown.
Add the crushed garlic, lamb mince and cinnamon and cook until the lamb mince is browned.
Add the tomatoes, stock, bay leaf, oregano, sugar and season with salt & pepper. Cook until the lamb ragu has turned into a thick sauce.
Remove the ragu from the heat and add the parsley stalks, leave to one side while you make your cheese sauce.
Melt the butter in your final pan over a medium heat, add 60g plain flour and stir with a wooden spoon until a paste forms (this is called a roux). Whisk the milk in a little at a time and cook until it has turned into a smooth thick sauce.
Add the grated cheese to the white sauce and a pinch of salt and pepper.
Now it’s time to layer up your Moussaka, start by placing a layer of potatoes in your oven proof dish, top with a spoonfull of the lamb ragu and repeat this process until you have layered all of the potatoes and ragu.
Top the dish with the cheese sauce and cook for around 20 minutes until bubbling and golden on the top. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for a few minutes so that the flavours can develop and top with the chopped parsley leaves.
Baby Gourmand is a huge fan of lasagna but not so keen on aubergine so I told him it was a new type of lasagna that used potatoes instead of pasta. Apparently it was the most delicious thing he had eaten and he asked for it again the next evening! Result.
Mini Gourmand is another aubergine hater (what is wrong with my children?) and again I decided not to inform her that the purple vegetable was hidden in my ragu. Guess what? She devoured the dish and said that I needed to make it again.
It will come as no surprise to you that Grandma Gourmand had cleared her plate in record speed and was in the kitchen helping herself to more before I’d even had time to take my first mouthful. It’s been a long time since I attempted to make a Moussaka, my previous attempts were very complicated and had more of an egg custard style topping (found on the Guardian website) this recipe although very simple really did seem to work well.