It appears we still can’t get the Greek inspiration out of our minds. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, it really made me realise how everything rests on the quality of produce you have access to. I think we’ve become completely unaware of the difference in taste proper fresh and seasonal produce yields. And why would we know? Unless we grow it ourselves, or live somewhere like Crete where it’s readily available we just won’t have come across the real taste of tomatoes for example..
For the mince layer
1/3 cup brown lentils (soaked for at least 4 hrs if possible)
1 1/4 cups soya mince
4 tbs olive oil
2 sticks celery
2 small carrots
1 small green pepper
2 tbs tomato paste
1 can whole tinned tomatoes
2 cups stock or water
2 tbs liquid smoke
2 tbs red wine vinegar
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp thyme
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp cinammon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
salt and pepper
- Drain the lentils and place in a large saucepan with plenty of water. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer of 30 mins. Drain and set aside.
- Rinse you soya mince a few ties in a sieve, squeezing as you do so to get rid of the ‘soya taste’. Place in a bowl and cover with hot water. Set aside for 20 mins.
- Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed pan. Chop the celery, carrot and pepper finely and saute for 5 minutes until soft. Add the tomato paste and stir for another minute to cook.
- Now add all the rest of the ingredients, bring to the boil, then semi-cover and turn to a simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes until almost dry. Set aside whilst you make the béchamel.
- heat the oil on a medium low and add the flour. Stir to make your roux then cook for 4-5 minutes until it darkens a shade and gives a nutty aroma.
- Remove from the heat and slowly add the milk whisking all the time.
- Now place back over a medium-low heat and keep whisking to prevent lumps from forming. After a few minutes. when smooth, add the rest of the ingredients and change to content stirring with a wooden spoon.
- Stir over a medium low heat for another 10 minutes until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon.
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
- Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Add a generous amount of salt and cook your pasta as per instructions on the packet.
- As soon as it is done, drain it and mix it into the pot with the béchamel.
- Now spread the mince filling over a large pyrex baking tray and top with the pasta-bechamel layer.
- Cover with tin-foil and bake for 45 minutes, then uncover and bake for a further 15 minutes to brown the top. Let stand a good 15 minutes before serving to firm up and allow the flavours to mingle.