May 21, 2016

Moussaka lasagne with wild garlic pesto


How to be sure your child will end up being a food blogger in the future? When she's under 10 and asks her aunt about how to prepare wild garlic. My aunt lives in the north of Estonia and wild garlic has always been more common there. As a South Estonian kid, it always seemed so exotic for me.



That was my first contact with bear garlic a.k.a wild garlic. The second one was when my sister started bringing wild garlic pesto (Ramsl√łk) from Norway. When I first tasted it, I liked it but it definitely had a very unique taste.

And yesterday was my third time meeting this fascinating herb. We went to a grocery store and I noticed a woman outside who was selling all kinds of things from berries to wild garlic. I was so happy and instantly bought a bunch. When we arrived home, I made a load of pesto and ate it with buckwheat flake porridge and creamy dilly tomato salad. What a summery treat!


But this moussaka lasagne is really something special. It is loaded with juicy eggplant (that's the moussaka part), mildly sweet green beans, tangy tomato sauce, garlicky wild garlic pesto and my latest favorite - potato and carrot cheese heavily inspired by VeggieOnAPenny! It's luscious, creamy, hearty and super satisfying. Definitely worth making. Happy cooking!

PS! You should hurry, because the wild garlic season is ending. But if you can't find it, use any other edible (wild) herbs for the pesto.



Preparation time: 15 - 20 minutes active, 1 hour waiting.

Serves: 6 - 8 people / (12 x 9 inch / 32 x 24 cm baking dish)

Ingredients:

Wild garlic pesto:

  • 2 large handfuls of fresh wild garlic (about 2 cups / 60 g)
  • ½ cup / 120 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • (2 Tbsp nutritional yeast)
  • ¼ - ¾ tsp salt
  • a dash of ground black pepper
  • ½ cup / 50 g cashews or sunflower seeds

Tomato sauce:

  • 4 ¼ cups / 1 l tomato juice (with salt in it)
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 5 tsp (unrefined) sugar

Lasagne filling:

  • 1 large eggplant (15 oz / 450 g) +  some salt
  • 14 oz / 400 g green beans (frozen and slightly thawed)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • about 25 lasagne sheets

Potato and carrot cheese:

  • 2 cups / 300 g potato cubes (from peeled potatoes)
  • 1 cup / 150 g carrot cubes (from peeled carrots)
  • ½ cup / 8 Tbsp / 30 g nutritional yeast flakes
  • ½ cup / 120 ml cold water
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • ⅓ cup / 80 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar or lemon juice

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 F / 200 C. Make the pesto by blending all the ingredients until smooth. If needed, tilt the blender for a little bit while working or add a bit more oil, so everything gets blended. You can also use an immersion blender (then the pesto will be a tiny bit grainier). Set the pesto aside.

Mix all the tomato sauce ingredients and boil for a few minutes.

In the meantime, cut the eggplant into thin slices and rub with a little bit of salt. Mix green beans with salt (I added the salt right into the green bean package). Now grease a deep medium-sized baking dish. Ladle some tomato sauce onto the bottom. Add one layer of lasagne sheets. If needed, crack some sheets so they fit better. Add a bit more tomato sauce. Add one layer of eggplant slices and ⅓ of green beans. Add another layer of lasagne sheets. Continue adding the same layers. Remember to keep some tomato sauce to cover the last layer of lasagne sheets. For the middle layer also spread ½ of the wild garlic pesto. For the top layer you should have a layer of lasagne sheets and all of the remaining.tomato sauce. You can press the layers together by pushing them down a little bit.

At first, bake the lasagne for 35 - 40 minutes. In the meantime you can make the potato and carrot cheese. Boil the potato and carrot cubes in a same pot in plenty of water until soft. It takes about 15 minutes. Drain and add them to a blender along with nutritional yeast flakes, water, salt, oil and vinegar or lemon juice. Blend for a couple of minutes until smooth.

When the cheese is ready, take the lasagne out for a moment and spread the cheese sauce onto it. Since it's a big amount of cheese, you will most likely have a little bit of leftover sauce. You can use it on pasta, pizza or as a dipping sauce. It was actually great to dip the lasagne in it! :)

Put the lasagne back into the oven and bake it at 350 F / 180 C for 15 more minutes or until it's soft. Take it out and spread the leftover wild garlic pesto onto the top. Let it sit for about 5 minutes before serving.

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