Cheats Moussaka or Greek Pasta Bolognese

I love moussaka but never seem able to make it quite as tasty as my Greek Cypriot friend. And anyway, Dad always demands carbohydrate with this so I end up making two dishes. So this pasta loaded dish is loosely based on a Greek dish Pasticcio which is a macaroni and lamb mince in a tomato sauce baked with a moussaka style topping.

Today I had just 20 minutes to get the bulk of it cooked and mixed together in a baking dish. The yoghurt & egg topping will go on when I get back from the school run this afternoon. I love grilling the aubergines rather than frying as this gives them a lovely smokey flavour that comes out in the dish. Serves 4, heartily.

450g lamb mince or leftovers
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive or sunflower oil
2 tins chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp fresh chopped mint or 3tbsp dried
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp red wine
2 large aubergines
2 eggs
1 tub greek yoghurt
100g grated strong cheddar
400g pasta

Preheat the oven to 180°C, 350°F, gas mark 4.

Slice the aubergines in half longways and place flesh side down on a baking tray. Place under a medium grill, until the skins are crisp and blackened. Remove and leave to one side to cool. When cool enough to handle, scrape the flesh out and roughly chop.

Cook the pasta according to pack. Drain, rinse in cold water and set aside.

Whilst the pasta is cooking and the aubergines are under the grill, gently fry the onion and garlic in a large casserole dish big enough to hold the meat and pasta. When the onions and garlic start to brown, add the lamb mince and fry until just cooked and the large lumps are broken down. Add the tins of tomatoes, the herbs, and seasoning. The mixture should be quite loose.

Add the pasta and aubergines when ready and mix thoroughly. Pour into a large enough high sided baking tray to hold the mixture and layer of creamy topping. Beat the eggs then mix thoroughly into the yoghurt. Pour over the pasta mix and sprinkle with cheddar cheese.

Bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown and bubbling. Serve with a big green salad.

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