Honestly, sometimes there's nothing better than finding food & wine that go together in perfect harmony.
That's what I found when I made my low cal, low carb take on moussaka and cracked a bottle of Aussie sangiovese.
I was recently #gifted some bottles of wine from De Iuliis Wines in the Hunter Valley - I got this sangiovese, a semillon & a shiraz. I can't wait to try the other two! But I was super excited to crack the sange. Stay tuned for my thoughts on the other wines.
I love to cook, and I wanted to find something delish to go with this lovely wine. I thought the tomato flavours and silky eggplant would go stunningly... and I was right.
I called it moussaka, but I know it's not like the real thing. I substituted the delicious béchamel sauce for simple feta, and instead of frying the eggplants I went for a score and roast method. Serving it like this helps with portion control, too.
After posting about it on my Instagram stories, I've since been told that a dish like this is called "papoutsakia", which means 'little shoes'. Adorable!
So, onto the recipe.
What you're gonna need
3 tbsp olive oil
400g lamb mince
3 or 4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp dried Italian mixed herbs
1 tsp dried oregano
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 stock cube
1 tbsp tomato paste
Lots of feta!
Preheat your oven to 200°C/fan 180°C
Cut eggplants in half lengthways and score in a criss-cross pattern. Be sure not to cut through the skin! Pop them on a baking tray or baking sheet, skin side down, and brush with some oil. Bake for 30mins until softened and lightly golden
While the eggplants are cooking, heat up some oil in a large frying pan and cook the onion for 2-3 mins until softened
Add the mince and use a wooden spoon to break it up and intergate the onion
Sprinkle over garlic & dried herbs, and stir to combine
Add the chopped tomatoes, crumbled stock cube & tomato paste and bring to a simmer. Cook for 5-10 mins, stirring regularly. If it's looking a little thick, add a splash of water, then stir and let simmer
Taste & season! Here is where I add my secret ingredient... a splash of balsamic vinegar, to give a nice bite and depth of flavour
Once the eggplants look golden and soft, take them out of the oven. Spoon the mince mixture on top, then crumble the feta over each portion
Return to the oven for 10mins until the feta is softened
Pull them out and tuck in! Serve with a salad or veg - I simply chopped some cherry tomatoes, baby cucumbers and some avocado to have on the side
This is a super quick and easy meal to throw together. And honestly, it was a perfect pairing with this Hunter sangiovese. The wine was vibrant with red fruits and a moreish savoury palate that went so well with the tangy tomato & herbs in the mince. The creaminess of the feta and the silky-smooth eggplant were a great match to the wine's elegant structure. My recipe here is a low cal & low carb version, but this sangiovese would definitely hold its own against a richer recipe too.
Food match: Tomato-based Italian or Greek dishes with plenty of tangy notes and herbs. If they have creamy cheese involved, that's a bonus!
Music match: Pop on some Maroon 5 and get lost in the vibes.
Occasion match: Your parents called an hour ago and said they're in town and coming round for dinner. Now you're in the kitchen, sipping on wine and mentally preparing yourself for the classic "you need to get back out there and start dating" conversation that will inevitably come up. Sigh.
Let me know if you give this recipe a crack and what wine you pair with it!
Connect with De Iuliis online: Instagram: @deiuliiswine
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