raw plum tartlets + saying goodbye to summer

raw plum tartlets

It’s officially autumn now and, while the temperatures are still warm, little signs of change are becoming perceptible. It’s dark now when I wake up to head to yoga. The mornings are cooler, the breeze crisper. All little, wonderful whispers of the season to come. It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of summer – the cooler months are definitely my jam. I’m so looking forward to breaking out the knits and blankets, lighting candles in the afternoon and snuggling up with a cup of tea.

But it’s not quite winter yet, so I decided to farewell summer with the last stone fruits: plums. After the peaches and apricots and nectarines have faded, the plums linger well into the first month of autumn. They are the quintessential transition fruit. They bake up perfectly into cakes (the German cake, Pflaumenkuchen, a yeasted dough baked with plums on top until they’re jammy and soft, is one of my favourite cakes), but I thought I’d go for a light, summery raw vibe.

A creamy, soft filling, flavoured with plums and vanilla (and perfectly pink!), is topped with slices of ripe, sweet plums. It’s slight girlish, like a giggle. But, it’s not sickly sweet or over the top, with a balance between the fresh plums, sweet dates and creamy cashews. (Even Adam, who is rarely a fan of raw desserts, thoroughly enjoyed these little tartlets.) If you’re in the northern hemisphere, with no plums at hand, I’d suggest blueberries, raspberries, or even blackberries as a good substitute (frozen would be fine).

So long summer, you’ve been grand. X

plum preparation split
saying goodbye to summer
plum tartlets
raw plum tartlet
ready for a bite

raw plum tartlets

makes 4 12 cm tartlets

recipe notes

  • it is only worthwhile making these with soft, sweet plums. if decent plums aren’t available, blueberries, raspberries or blackberries would make a delicious substitution. as would figs, or mango.
  • don’t be tempted to over-sweeten the filling as you are making it – the bases are very sweet.
  • these can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container (still in their tins) in the freezer until required. remove from the freezer and top with fresh fruit when ready to eat.


for the base:

  • 1 cup (140g) raw almonds
  • 6-8 medjool dates, pitted
  • a pinch of sea salt

for the filling:

  • 3/4 cup (100g) raw cashews, soaked overnight or at least 4 hours
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • seeds of 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 4 tbsp cold water
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 plum, stoned and flesh diced (about 1/2 cup)

to serve:

  • 3 plums, stoned and sliced very thin (~0.5 cm thick)
  • 1 tbsp pistachios, finely chopped

In a food processor, blend almonds with a pinch of salt until they form a fine meal. Add dates and blend to combine – the ‘dough’ should hold together when pressed between your finger and thumb.

Divide the base mixture evenly between four 12 cm fluted tartlet tins (the kind with a removable base). Using moist fingers, press the base firmly and evenly around the tins. Place tartlets in the freezer until required, or at least 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a blender, combine all the ingredients for the filling. Blend on high until silky smooth. This could take a few minutes (depending on your blender), and will required the sides of the blender to be scraped down with a spatula a few times.

Equally divide the filling between the tartlets, gently tap pin the sides of the tine to settle the mixture. Return tartlets to the freezer for 2-3 hours, until solid.

To serve, remove tartlets from freezer 15 minutes prior to serving, and let them sit at room temperature. Arrange plum slices on top, and sprinkle with chopped pistachios.

lentil, quinoa + greens salad w lime + mustard dressing

lentil + greens salad w lime + mustard dressing

enormous pot of mint

It’s no secret that I don’t have the greatest green-thumb. In fact, I have a pretty great track record of killing plants. Combine that with the fact that we have a resident possum that loves anything green and leafy, and it makes it a little difficult to grow anything super delicious. But, I’m making progress I think – so far, the rosemary, chives, lemon balm and mint are all still standing. And oh my, the mint. I have so. damn. much. of it. It’s never-ending.

But really, this isn’t a post totally about mint, it’s about this salad. Because as much as I love mint on its own, mint does really special things when it’s combined with parsley and lentils and a delectable dressing.

I made this salad on the weekend for the very fancy Hannah’s birthday get-together. I wanted a salad that was sturdy, that likes (nay, LOVES) dressing, that was filling, and wasn’t going to look like it had been sitting in a hot room (you know, that sort of wilted and sad look lettuce gets if it’s been in contact with dressing for more than 10 seconds?). And I think this one fits the bill (not to mention that it’s completely allergen-friendly!). That being said, if you wanted it would be delicious with some baked tofu, or roasted pumpkin, or sourdough along side it, if you so desired.

Lastly, can we just pause on the realisation that it’s December? Where in the world did this year go, sheesh. When I think back on all that’s happened this year, and all that I’ve managed to achieve, it truly, really, boggles my mind. Finally, though, work has basically wound up for the year – only two meetings this week and then I’m on holidays! – And I’m also now allowing myself to get excited for Christmas – last night we decorated, and I’m stoked to get into some serious Christmas cooking. Which reminds me – what would be at your ideal Christmas meal? I’d love to know, so please leave a comment below.

With big, relieved, almost-on-holidays hugs, H x

fennel heart
preparing the salad
mint 1
lime + mustard dressing
lentil, quinoa + greens salad

lentil, quinoa + greens salad w lime + mustard dressing
serves 4-6
recipe notes

  • Of course, feel free to substitute regular quinoa (or what about millet? or wild rice?) instead of the red quinoa if you prefer.</em?
  • If you like, adding some wholegrain mustard to the dressing would also be a stellar idea.
  • I’ve given the cooked measurements for both the lentils and quinoa – my advice is to make a big pot of both: use some for this salad, then sequester the rest away in your fridge for easy meals the next few days.

for the salad

  • 1.5 c cooked French lentils
  • 0.5 c cooked chickpeas
  • 1.5 c cooked red quinoa
  • a generous handful of mint, chopped
  • a generous handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/3 c pepitas, toasted
  • 1/2 bulb of fennel, tops removed, fronds chopped and bulb thinly sliced
  • 1 spring (green) onion, thinly sliced

for the dressing

  • juice and zest of 1 lime
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp dry English mustard
  • sea salt and pepper

Start by preparing the vegetables for the salad, chop and slice away. In a large bowl, combine all the salad ingredients and gently toss. Prepare the dressing by combining the juice, zest, oil and mustard in a glass jar, securing with a lid and shaking vigorously to combine. (Alternatively you could whisk everything in a small bowl.) Taste the dressing, and adjust the seasoning with sea salt and pepper to your liking. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss again to coat thoroughly. Store in the refrigerator until serving.

mango coconut creamsicles

mango and coconut creamsicles

If summer in Brisbane had a flavour, I’m reasonably sure that it would taste like these creamsicles. Fruity, mango-y, creamy. I really, really, like these creamsicles. You know what I like even more? How smile-inducingly simple they are. There’s no need for added sugar, or topping up with liquids. Throw everything in the blender and you’re there. The perfect summer dessert, no?

A few weeks ago, my mum and I split a tray of lovely mangoes. And, for a few days, Adam and I ate mangoes at nearly every meal. Sliced over breakfast, creamsicle after lunch – heck, we even had Laura’s marinated cucumber noodles over a thick wedge of mango. The good news is, mango season is far from over (it’s not even officially summer yet). And I’m pretty sure that I’m going to spend most of this summer subsisting on LARGE quantities of fruit. Because as I’ve mentioned before, I do not handle heat well (yesterday it was certifiable disgusting – over 30 C (86F) and 65% humidity – needless to say I spent most of the day napping), which means that any food that is cold and only requires a minimum of peeling and cutting is fair game.

I’m going to keep this short and sweet today – I’m presenting at a conference on Thursday, and my paper is well, you know…(not even started)…so I’d better be getting to work. Big love to you all – H.

mango too
creamsicles ready for the freezer
creamsicles in a row
best summer dessert
mango coconut creamsicles
makes 10
recipe notes

  • My popsicle moulds take 1/3 cup of mixture (which I think is pretty standard).
  • I’m going to be pretty insistent on using the vanilla bean directly. Extract isn’t going to cut it here.
  • You’ll also need 10 popsicle sticks – I can pick these up pretty easily from a newsagent or craft store.


  • 450 g mango flesh (2 large mangoes’ worth)
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
  • 1/4 lime, juiced
  • 1 can (270 ml) whole coconut milk

In a high-speed blender, combine all ingredients and blend on high until smooth and creamy. Evenly pour into your popsicle moulds. Freeze for 30 minutes, then insert popsicle sticks. Freeze for a further 2-3 hours, until fully frozen. To enjoy, run the mould under a little hot water to loosen the creamsicle.

banana chai popsicles

banana chai popsicles

Summer is upon us in every sense of the word (sorry to my lovely northern hemisphere readers). It’s hot. It’s humid. It’s almost hard to move around.

As you may have picked up on, I don’t deal well with the heat. Sure, I enjoy the opportunity to lounge around in shorts and breezy dresses, but shit still needs gettin’ done. Trying to pay for lunch out with a friend the other day, it took at least 3 tries before I could work the machine properly. It almost borders on the ridiculous, and there’s probably some room for toughening up on my part. But in lieu of toughening up, here’s how I deal with sky-rocketing temperatures: large volumes of water and iced tea, raw things (I know Adam’s rolling his eyes), and frozen treats. Once the day gets hot, all I want to do is eat watermelon, nap and if I get hungry at all (which I often don’t if it’s super hot) somehow fashion a salad if I can get my brain to work my arm to chop the vegetables.

I’m being horribly melodramatic I know, but it’s hard to feel motivated to do anything when you feel like you need to take your second or third shower for the day, amiright? Here’s where the frozen treats come in (you were wondering about those, I’m sure). I firmly believe that any task to be completed above 30 C (86 F) can be successfully accomplished with one hand, while you lick/bite/suck/enjoy a popsicle with the other. I’m sure it’s a measurable fact. Frozen treats, like these popsicles, always succeed in cooling my body temperature down just enough to make everything seem doable. I highly recommend them the next time you’re in the middle of a heat-induced brain-fuzz or full-blown meltdown.

These popsicles are just sweet enough, creamy enough and flavoursome enough to satisfy everything you could want from a popsicle, without crossing over into the ‘slightly-less-healthy’ category. When you consider that each popsicle is only about 1/3 cup in volume, you can totally justify eating two in a row. Or one after breakfast, and then another after dinner. Whatever floats your popsicle loving boat. I know there’s probably a few people thinking that banana and chai might make a funky combination, but trust me, it’s divine. These little lovelies are almost caramel-tasting. In fact, I think I’m off to grab one out of the freezer right now.

organic chai tea
chai in the pot
golden beauties
banana chai joy
banana chai popsicles

makes 10 popsicles

recipe notes

  • If you’re not into soy milk, I think you’d be able to get away with cashew milk (the fat content feels pretty similar to me), but I haven’t tried this. Also make sure it’s unsweetened.
  • Feel free to substitute a red/roiboos chai if you prefer, but personally I like the colour the black tea gives to the popsicles.


  • 2 bananas
  • 2 c (500 ml) soy milk
  • 1/3 c (80 ml) agave nectar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tsp organic black chai tea
  • 1 cinnamon stick

In a small saucepan, over medium heat, whisk together the soy milk, agave and vanilla. Add the tea leaves (I put mine in bag, but you can leave them loose, just strain through a sieve once you’re done) and cinnamon stick. Heat for 10 minutes, stirring until it starts to steam, but do not boil. Cover and allow to cool completely with cinnamon and tea to infuse. Once cool, remove tea and cinnamon stick (with a sieve if necessary). Combine in a blender with the bananas and blend until completely smooth. Pour into popsicle moulds (each should take around 1/3 cup). Place in the freezer for 30 mins, then quickly remove and insert 1 popsicle stick into each mould. Return to freezer for 2-3 hours, until completely frozen. To remove popsicles from mould, run the mould under warm water to loosen the popsicle. Enjoy!

stracciatella ice cream

vegan stracciatella icecream

Oh boy, it’s true, I inherited an ice cream maker. Readers, gird your loins for an influx of recipes for ice creams, sorbets, and all manner of delicious frozen delights. I’ve got a raspberry-cashew idea floating around, along with a hankering for something rich and chocolatey. I knew as soon as I had my eager hands on that ice cream maker (kindly given by Adam’s parents, who weren’t using it), that stracciatella ice cream would be high on my list of priorities.

My trip to Venice just over two years ago is largely dominated by memories of all the gelati I ate. Which was a lot. Four scoops a day? I’m not even lying. It was truly excessive. But delicious. There was lemon, and 70% chocolate, and watermelon, and hazelnut, and strawberry. Served to you, at my favourite gelateria, by a man who my friends and I christened ‘Hot Nasty’ (he was incredibly gorgeous, but slightly surly). But my favourite gelato flavour, guaranteed to be nestled in beside whatever other flavour I was trying, was stracciatella.

You see, the thing is, I’m a vanilla girl. Not that I don’t love chocolate (I really do). But, if you held a gun to my head and said that I had to pick between vanilla and chocolate for the rest of my life, I’d pick vanilla. Hands down. (What would you pick? I’d love to know!) Stracciatella combines, for me, the best of both worlds. It’s vanilla-y and creamy soft, with flecks of dark chocolate smattered throughout. Bliss (if you eat dairy, which I was at the time). Now, I return to Australia, after a dreamy (but hectic trip) and what do I find? That all stracciatella versions I come across are missing something, something subtle, something delicious. I ponder (for a long time). Then, serendipitously, one night at our favourite pizza place, the waiter tells us their gelato flavours that night: vanilla, strawberry, and stracciatella. “Which is vanilla, with flecks of dark chocolate and roasted almonds,” she tells us, in no way understanding the breakthrough she’d just thrown me into. Needless to say, Adam ordered some and I snuck a mouthful (we’re still in the dairy-days here).

And there it was, the something that was missing: toasted almonds. But without any crunch or hint as to their existence. And that really is the secret – grinding them to form a ‘dust.’ So as soon as that ice cream maker was in my kitchen, I knew a vegan-friendly stracciatella was on its way. It’s made on a base of coconut milk, sweetened with maple syrup, and flavoured with what you might think is almost too-much vanilla. It’s silky and smooth without being rich. With the toasted almond and cacao nibs ground to a coarse dust, that ‘oh-my-what-is-in-this?’ feeling is retained. This stracciatella has a depth of flavour that makes me so very happy, recalling memories of a wonderful trip, and the city and people which made it so special. Buon Appetito!

the only coconut milk to use
vanilla bean
sprinkles of cacao nibs
roasted almonds + cacao nibs
almond and cacao dust
stracciatella waves
stracciatella w roasted almonds and cacao nibs
stracciatella ice cream

makes about 750 ml

recipe notes

  • You will make more of the almond-cacao dust than you need for this recipe, but fear not! You’ve just created something that is great as a topping on smoothies, granola, oats and probably even waffles. Store in an airtight container.
  • If you’re not keen on cacao nibs, you could use dark chocolate chips instead (but I haven’t tried this). Blitz them along with the cooled almonds, but be careful they don’t melt everywhere.
  • You could also use agave instead of maple syrup, but personally I enjoy the flavour which maple adds..


  • 2 c (500 ml) full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 c (250 ml) water
  • 1/3 c (80 ml) maple syrup
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 2 tbsp cacao nibs
  • 2 tbsp flaked almonds, toasted

In a saucepan, over medium heat, combine coconut milk, water, maple syrup, vanilla seeds, extract and xanthan gum. Whisk to combine. Continue to heat, whisking regularly (so the bottom doesn’t burn) for 10 minutes, or until it comes to the boil. Once it reaches boiling, immediately remove from the heat and allow to cool completely before proceeding.

While the mixture is cooling, combine the toasted almonds and cacao nibs in a coffee grinder or food processor, and blitz them for ten seconds or so, so form a coarse ‘dust.’ Once the liquid has cooled, add to your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Once everything is moving about, add 2 tbsp of the almond-cacao dust. When finished, store in an airtight container in the freezer. Allow to thaw for 10-15 minutes before serving.

massaged kale salad w a maple-lemon truffle dressing

massaged kale salad w strawberries, tomatoes + maple-lemon-truffle dressing

The salad screams of the transition between winter and summer. The kale is still going strong at the markets, which are also flush with strawberries (though it’s almost the end of strawberry season…sniff) and tomatoes. What better than to combine them into a massive, delicious kale salad? Nothing, dear reader, could be better than that.

This is a picnic-friendly, make-ahead, forget-about-it-in-the-frigde-for-a-few-hours kind of salad. It actually gets better the longer you leave it sitting in its own dressing (a rare beauty in the salad game). After a little while, the strawberries and tomatoes start to release their juices, enhancing the already kick-ass dressing, which by itself is zingy and light, with a touch of I-don’t-know-what thanks to the truffle oil. The almonds are toasty and crunchy, throwing their nutty, roasted flavour profile in the mix.

I took this salad to a birthday-picnic this past weekend, and perhaps it’s just my ego (a little), but this sturdy salad seemed to go down a treat. It makes a lot, and is definitely a salad to share. Need I mention the sheer physical joy of massaging kale? You may feel a little weird at first, but kale needs love (like everything), and getting your hands in there is the best way to go about it. After its massage, and a few hours marinating? macerating? (what verb to use?!), the kale softens and becomes silky, with the dressing clinging to all its nooks and crannies.

I think I’m going to be eating riffs on this salad all summer long. It’s simple and easy to make, but incredibly to both look at and taste. My sort of food. I’m already craving the next one. Enjoy! x

curly kale
torn kale leaves
the pinkest strawberries
strawberries + tomatoes
fresh mint
the salad of spring
massaged kale salad

massaged kale salad with maple-lemon truffle dressing

serves 6-8

recipe notes

  • If you don’t have truffle oil, don’t worry! Use regular olive oil, and it will still taste great.
  • If you’ve got basil instead of mint, feel free to substitute! I hand mint on hand, so used it.
  • I can’t stress enough how the kale really needs a decent massage here. Don’t be meek. Scrunch, rub, and crinkle it into a massaged glory.

for the salad

  • 1 bunch (3 stems) curly kale, stems removed
  • 1/3 cup flaked almonds, toasted
  • 250 g (just over 1/2 lb) fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 320 g (about 5 smallish) tomatoes, sliced into bite-size wedges
  • 1/2 cup packed mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup spring onions, finely sliced

for the dressing

  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp truffle oil
  • pinch of sea salt
  • lots (about 1/2 tsp) freshly cracked black pepper

To make the dressing, combine all ingredients in a jar and shake, or mix in a small bowl. Tear the kale leaves into bite-size pieces, similar in size to the halved strawberries. In a large bowl, combine the dressing and torn kale. With your hands, massage dressing into kale leaves for at least one minute, preferably a couple more.

Add the rest of the salad ingredients to the bowl and stir (with your hands or spoon, whatever) to combine. Here, I usually add even more black pepper, but – up to you.Refrigerate until required, but eat the same day.

iced tea mixology

IMG_5195I’d like to say we’re tea-enthusiasts in our household, but really, we’re tea-crazies. Hot, cold, sugar, honey, morning, afternoon, and night. There are few things a really good cup of tea can’t fix, or at least put in perspective. In the photo above, clockwise from bottom left, you’ve got Ruby Red Rosehip, Black Rose, Honey Vanilla, Peppermint, and Vanilla Mint. (This is just a selection of our collection…we also usually have a plain black tea, a Chinese green tea, and a chai in rotation too.)

IMG_5185 IMG_52291. Ruby Red Rosehip with blueberries and lemon balm.

Now, if you love tea, I highly, highly recommend you invest in a decent tea jug (pictured above). I use this one (also available here), and from the moment I brought it home, it’s been true love. My preferred brewing method is a cold-brew or sun-brew: fill the jug with filtered water, place 4-6 tablespoons of tea into the tea compartment, screw the compartment into the lid, close the jug, give it a good shake, and leave it for 2-4 hours (either on your kitchen bench or outside in the sun) depending on how strong you’d like your tea to be.

That’s it! No hot water, no trying to cool hot tea. Once it’s brewed, all you have to do is pour over ice, and add any extras you desire. Most of the teas I’ve shown here are herbal or caffeine free (which I prefer because when I make iced tea, I drink a lot!), but you can make iced tea with practically any loose-leaf or bagged tea. I thought I’d share a few of my favourites, with ideas for making them even more special.


2. Honey Vanilla with cloudy apple juice and lime.


3. Black Rose with lemon.

IMG_52004. Vanilla Mint Virgin Mojito (lime juice and fresh mint).

Ideas for extras:

  • Lemon, lime, orange juice and slices (any citrus really, depending on the flavour of your tea)
  • Fresh berries
  • Apple slices
  • Fresh mint, lemon balm
  • Apple juice
  • Sparkling mineral water
  • Cranberry or pomegranate juice
  • Honey or maple syrup
  • Other fruit: peaches, pineapple, melon, etc

Whose to say, in fact, that you can’t mix different flavours of iced tea? No one! My favourite stall at the markets on a Sunday is the iced tea man, whose mix of Jasmine and Peppermint is amazing.

I make iced tea very regularly, it’s so refreshing, and in the hot weather, there is nothing I’d rather drink. If you don’t like drinking plain water it’s a great way to stay hydrated, and much better for you than soft drink or straight fruit juices. I also love to make them when I’m having friends over – it’s such a good non-alcoholic alternative to have on hand.

Well, that’s my manifesto of iced tea mixology! I’d love to hear about your tea experiences, or if you have any more ideas – I’m all about sharing the tea-love!




recipe: a duo of sublime smoothies

lemon balm smoothiepeach smoothie

Earlier in the week, I promised you the recipes for the two smoothies from my seven days of breakfast. And here they are! Blueberry, pear, and lemon balm (top image), and peach, strawberry and mint (bottom image).

Jazzing up regular fruit smoothies with fragrant herbs is one of my favourite ways to make breakfast just that bit more exciting, they’re also full of wonderful oils (lemon balm for instance, contains an antibacterial oil). I’d just recently harvested my mint (as it had started to flower), and to preserve the leaves for later use, I chopped them up and packed them tightly into a ice-cube tray. Then I covered them with water and placed the tray in the freezer. Once frozen, voila! You’ve got mint to use in smoothies all year round. You could definitely do the same with lemon balm, but mine isn’t ready to harvest yet so I just picked leaves from the bush. Each cube of mint, I find, is generally equivalent to two generous handfuls.

A few more notes: I add linseed, almond, and sunflower mix to my smoothies, for a bit of extra protein and good fats (you could swap this for a dollop of yoghurt or protein powder, if you like). I like my smoothies to be relatively thin, so if you’d like yours to be thicker, add less water or a handful of ice cubes. Lastly, both recipes include banana, but rest assured you can’t taste it – it’s in there to achieve a silky-smooth texture.

All those notes aside, I hope you enjoy these smoothies! I’m excited to try different combinations as the season changes into autumn and winter (in the southern hemisphere, here), and different fruits start appearing at the markets. So, stay tuned!

Blueberry, pear and lemon balm smoothie

Serves 1

  • 1 pear, cored and chopped
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 2 large handfuls of lemon balm (~20 leaves)
  • 2 tablespoons of LSA mix
  • 1/2-1 cups filtered water
  1. Place all ingredients in blender, adding more or less water depending on how thick you’d like your smoothie to be, blend until smooth.

Peach, strawberry and mint smoothie

Serves 1

  • 1 yellow peach, stoned and chopped
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1 cube of frozen mint, or 2 large handfuls (~20 leaves)
  • 2 tablespoons of LSA mix
  • 1/2-1 cups filtered water
  1. Place all ingredients in blender, adding more or less water depending on how thick you’d like your smoothie to be, blend until smooth.

recipe: red lentil moussaka

IMG_5077Ok, so when I call this recipe ‘Red Lentil Moussaka,’ I know I’m making a stretch. Sure, it may look like tradition Moussaka, and may even smell like tradition Moussaka, but traditional Moussaka it is not. Taking the cue from this inspiring idea, I decided to make a vegan, gluten-free, protein and vegie packed version.

First of all, you could most definitely use aubergine/eggplant instead of zucchini (Adam has an aversion to aubergine – crazy, I know! – so I used zucchini instead). The roasted strips of zucchini I topped with a cinnamon-and-oregano-spiced red lentil and tomato filling (much like a traditional Moussaka filling). Finally, instead of the rich and heavy béchamel, I substituted a soft and delicious puree of cannellini beans. Sprinkled with thyme, and drizzled with olive oil, it is then baked until bubbling.

If I was feeling especially gratuitous, I’d serve this moussaka with a crisp and lemony green salad, but for the gluten-munchers out there, crunchy hot bread would also be great. This dish also has the added bonus of being make-ahead friendly. You could easily prepare everything up to the final stage (i.e. before putting the whole thing in the oven), then cover and place in the fridge until you need it – making preparing it the day before a really great option.

I took this for dinner at my parents’ last Sunday (you can see a few more sneaky photos here), and it was superb. Everything you could want in a moussaka – warming, flavourful, comforting – without any of the heaviness or greasy come-down. Enjoy!

Red Lentil Moussaka

Serves 6

  • 7-8 medium zucchinis or 3 large aubergines/eggplants, sliced lengthwise into 5 mm strips
  • olive oil
  • a few sprigs of thyme
  • black pepper

For the filling:

  • 1 red onion, finely diced
  • 2 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • pinch of chilli flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 400 g tin of diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/4 cup of dried red lentils, rinsed
  • 600 mL water or stock

For the cannellini bean puree:

  • 3 cups cooked cannellini beans (tinned is ok)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
  • 250 mL water or stock
  • sea salt
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees centigrade. Once oven is preheated, arrange zucchini strips onto baking trays in a single layer, drizzle with olive oil and bake for approximately 10 minutes, or until tender.
  2. In a large baking dish, layer roasted zucchini, seasoning to taste as you go.
  3. To prepare the filling, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Add onion, garlic, chilli flakes, oregano, and the cinnamon stick, and gently sauté for 10 minutes, until soft and translucent.
  4. To the onion mixture, add the lentils, tomatoes, and water or stock. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes, until lentils are cooked and the filling has thickened.
  5. Remove the cinnamon stick, and pour the filling over the zucchini.
  6. To prepare the puree, place all ingredients into a small (ish) saucepan. Bring to the boil, then remove from heat. Either puree with a stick blender, or in a standing blender or food processor.
  7. Pour the puree over the lentil filling, spreading it over the surface with the back of a spoon.
  8. Sprinkle the puree with the leaves from a few sprigs of thyme, drizzle with olive oil, and also grind black pepper over the top.
  9. At this point, you can cover the whole thing will foil and place in the fridge until needed (remove from fridge 30 minutes before placing in oven).
  10. Or, in your preheated oven (180 degrees C), bake your moussaka for 30-40 minutes, until little bits of the lentil filling have started to bubble up around the edges, and the middle is heated through.