Been a while since I typed up a low calorie recipe. I made this Easter weekend, and through one thing or another, just didn’t get the chance to blog about it! But it’s here now, and it took some doing to get this down to under 400 calories – but I just about did it!
This is a Greek dish that is typically very VERY high in calories due to the deep frying of certain elements – potatoes and aubergines, and it contains lamb mince, which again is quite fatty. Not to mention the creamy topping made (by my Yiayia, RIP) with evaporated milk and eggs. All that equals a TASTY dish, but also about 2 zillion calories!
I’ve been making my moussaka this way for many years now. I developed it whilst on (yet another) diet plan, and omitted the potatoes, which were replaced with courgettes. I also cut out the deep frying, by grilling the vegetables instead. The topping got made with low-fat yoghurt and eggs, and the mince, well, I had to use less than normal, buy a lower fat version and drain off the excess fat that came out during the cooking.
As with [most] Greek dishes, it has quite a few steps…I said when making flaounes that I’m sure it’s to keep the women in the kitchen lol. But to me, all the Greek dishes that I make, that have been passed on to me by my beloved Yiayia (grandmother) are well worth the effort…even in lower calorie form!
The full recipe is at the end of this post, or read through my step-by-step guide to help you make it :)
First, the preparation of the vegetables – courgette (zucchini) and aubergine (egg plant), which I slice not too thick, and not too thin, lengthways…be careful with that knife! A squirt of one-cal oil spray and under the grill to brown off and cook through a little bit. Normally you’d be deep frying these – and aubergines soak up oil like a sponge! LOTS of fat cut out by not doing this!
Whilst they are cooking, I make the topping using low-fat Greek yoghurt and a couple of eggs, whisked together with some cinnamon, and then a small handful of grated cheese. Ideally I would have used halloumi, but I only had Cheddar in the fridge.
Remembering to keep an eye on your veggies under the grill, it’s time to make the meat layer.
Into a pan with a squirt of one-cal oil spray to stop the onions and garlic from sticking as you gently sweat them down. I also tend to add a splash of water to steam them a bit. Then in with the minced lamb, which does let out some extra fat.
Once the meat is browned off, I drain off the fat by pouring the mixture into a colander and letting the excess drip away. I also wipe out the pan with a paper towel to get rid of any grease hanging around.
Now the flavourings…cinnamon, dried mint and tomato purée…easy to do, but harder to tell you exactly how much, as I tend to do this by taste. I’ve given measurements in the recipe print out, but if you taste it and want a bit more of any of the herbs and spices – go for it! To me, the combination of cinnamon and dried mint is what defines a lot of savoury Greek dishes. It reminds me of ‘home’.
Did you burn your veggies? I hope not! Now it’s time to assemble everything together.
In an oven proof dish, put a layer of aubergines, covering as much of the base of the dish as you can.
Then, spread the lamb mixture over the aubergine layer.
On top of the meat, place the courgettes.
Finally, pour over the creamy topping and bake in a hot oven for about 30 – 40 minutes until piping hot through and browned on top.
Or in this moussaka’s case…a bit burnt around the edges -__- I really need to get a new oven!
I actually made the moussaka in advance during the day, and popped in the fridge until we wanted to eat dinner. I added a bit extra to the cooking time to allow the fact that it needed to ‘warm up’ from being in the fridge.
I also, made TWO moussakas, one that we ate, and the other got cooled, covered and frozen. To my amazement (it was an experiment) was absolutely fine, once I defrosted it in the fridge overnight and popped into the oven.
First portion out did fall apart on me :D But who cares? It’s a damn tasty lower calorie way to enjoy a normally high fat/high calorie favourite! Add a nice green salad (or a Greek village salad) and enjoy!
Serves 4 – 350 calories per serving
For the vegetable layers
- 400g aubergine, sliced lengthways
- 400g courgettes, sliced lengthways
- one-calorie oil spray
For the meat layer
- 1 medium white onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 250g lean lamb mince
- 1tbsp tomato purée
- 1 – 2 tbsp cinnamon
- 1 – 2 tbsp dried mint
- one-calorie oil spray
For the topping
- 250g low fat Greek or natural yoghurt
- 2 eggs
- 1tsp cinnamon
- 50g Cheddar cheese, grated
- Spray the sliced vegetables with the oil spray and cook under a hot grill until browned on both sides. Set to one side.
- Make the topping by whisking the eggs with the yoghurt and adding the cinnamon. Stir in the grated cheese. Set to one side.
- Spray a pan with some oil spray and add the onion and garlic and sweat down over a medium heat, adding a splash of water so that they don’t stick.
- Add the mince, turn up the heat a little and cook until browned off.
- Drain the excess fat by pouring the mixture into a colander. Wipe out your saucepan with a paper towel to remove any grease and return the lamb mixture back to the pan.
- Stir in the tomato purée, cinnamon and dried mint. I give approximate measures as you may like to do it by taste.
- To assemble the moussaka, place a layer of aubergines on the bottom of an ovenproof dish. Covering as much of the base as you can, cutting to fit if required. Then spoon over the lamb mixture, spreading to cover the aubergines. Next, place the courgette slices on top of the meat and finally, pour over the egg and yoghurt topping.
- Cook in a hot oven (180C-200C) for 30 – 40 minutes until piping hot through and browned on top.
- You can prepare this in advance and place in the fridge until cooking. Remember to allow extra time in the oven for it to heat through from cold.
- You can also freeze this, by following steps 1 – 7, cooling the moussaka down and covering before placing in the deep freeze. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator and cook in the oven as above.