This vegetarian version of the classic recipe gets great feedback from both veggies and meat eaters alike. It is hearty, warming and satisfying.
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 2 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced
- 100g mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp tamari (for gluten-free option) or soy sauce
- 200ml red wine
- 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 200g tinned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 200g tinned green lentils, drained and rinsed
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 large potatoes (approx. 500g)
- 2 large aubergines (approx. 600g)
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley and thyme, or 2 teaspoons dried mixed herbs
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- For the sauce:
- 50g butter or vegetable oil
- 50g buckwheat flour (for gluten-free option) or plain or spelt flour
- 600ml milk
- 150g mature Cheddar, grated
- 100g feta cheese
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 large eggs, beaten
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4 and lightly oil a 30 x 20cm oven dish or non-stick roasting tray.
2. In a medium saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, then add the sliced onions and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add the mushrooms, garlic and tamari (or soy sauce) and allow to cook gently for 10 minutes, stirring often.
3. Stir in the wine and simmer for 1 minute to allow the alcohol to cook off. Add the tomatoes, chickpeas, lentils and bay leaves, stir well and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 20 minutes, adding a little water – around 2 tablespoons at a time – if the sauce gets too thick.
4. Meanwhile, cut the potatoes into rounds about 1cm thick. Put into a medium pan of cold water, bring to the boil and parboil them for 10 minutes, then drain.
5. Prepare the aubergines by trimming off the woody ends and then slicing into approximately 1cm-thick rounds. Lay the potatoes and sliced aubergines on two greased non-stick baking trays, brush them with the remaining oil and sprinkle with the herbs. Bake for about 30 minutes, turning them once halfway through cooking, until golden. Now turn to your white sauce. Melt the butter (or oil) in a medium saucepan over a low heat. Add the flour, stirring with a wooden spoon to form a paste. Take the pan off the heat and gradually add the milk a little at a time, stirring with a hand whisk to keep the sauce smooth and lump-free. Put the pan back over a medium heat, bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 2–4 minutes, stirring continuously, until the sauce has thickened. Add two-thirds of the grated Cheddar and crumble in the feta cheese, then stir until the cheese has melted. Add the nutmeg and freshly ground black pepper to taste and allow to cool slightly before finally beating in the eggs.
6. To assemble: pour half the tomato sauce into the prepared oven dish, followed by a generous layer of roasted potatoes and aubergines (about half the vegetables). Repeat with another layer of tomato sauce and the rest of the vegetable slices. Top with the white sauce and sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese. Bake for 30–40 minutes until golden and bubbly.