I wanted to try something a bit different from the classic mince and aubergine moussaka I make on occasion. With a glint of enthusiasm in my eye and Mrs Beaver-to-be’s obsession with the Incan “mother of all grains”, quinoa, I set out to shake it up a little. However, the glint soon became a mere flicker after a tasteless, underdone first attempt. Undeterred though, round 2 was knock-out time and it came up trumps. I was beaming once more.
Licking the spoon of the mixture was as much as I could do to restrain myself from eating the whole lot before even serving. It didn’t help that I used a little maple syrup in this one and that always makes me feel like a deserving lip-licking child in front of a pile of pancakes. The sweetness doesn’t come through in this dish but adds a terrific flavour. And what’s more, maple syrup is a natural sweetner, like honey or agave nectar, so passes the non-refined sugar test and therefore gets to stay in my cupboard.
4 small courgettes, sliced thinly lengthways
1/2 large butternut squash, cut into long thin slices (1/4 pumpkin would work)
Bunch fresh parsley, chopped
Bunch basil, chopped
3 sprigs of rosemary, finely chopped
3 sprigs of thyme, finely chopped
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 tube tomato paste
2 tsp maple syrup
1 cup brown lentils
1 cup quinoa
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1 chilli, finely chopped
If you time this right, you can have this ready in about 35 minutes.
Place the lentils and quinoa into their own pots and boil until cooked (20mins/15mins respectively).
Meanwhile, heat the oven to 150C. Slice the courgettes and butternut squash. Add them to a foil lined tray, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle the thyme and rosemary over them and roast for 15 minutes – they shouldn’t colour much.
Chop your basil, parsley, chili and spring onions and place in a mixing bowl. Drain out the water from the chopped tomatoes and add to the bowl. In goes the maple syrup and the whole tube of tomato paste. When the lentils and quinoa are cooked, drain them and add to the bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Mix together.
Oil your baking dish (25x25cm), and add half the mixture evenly into the bottom. Next layer your courgettes like soldiers, with a layer of butternut squash on top.
Only use half the butternut as you will need enough to cover the top. Next add the rest of the mixture, spread evenly and don’t eat it all now! Top with a layer of the remaining butternut and any herbs left in the roasting tray.
Cook for 35 mins at 180C. By the time you have finished eating, you’ll have forgotten all about mince altogether.