ZUCCHINI MOUSSAKA with Lentils & Fennel

Roasted Zucchini Slices

Makes about 700g

1kg large zucchini

1 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons olive oil

Cracked pepper

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius.

Slice the zucchini lengthways, about 5mm thick. Place in a large bowl and sprinkle with the salt, then toss to combine. Cover with a tea towel and set aside for one hour. After this time drain away the liquid collected in the bowl and pat the zucchini slices dry with a clean tea towel.

Arrange the zucchini in a single layer on a baking tray and brush with olive oil (about 1 tablespoon). Season with pepper.

Slide the tray into the oven and bake for 20 minutes, flip the slices and bake for a further 15 minutes until beginning to colour.

Cool on the tray then transfer to a shallow container, drizzle with the remaining olive oil, plus the vinegar. Store in the fridge and consume within one week.

Delicious served as a dinner side with feta slices or used in zucchini moussaka.

Zucchini Moussaka with Lentils & Fennel

This Greek dish is traditionally made with eggplant, but as I am presently swimming in zucchini it is Zucchini Moussaka. I use a combination of lamb mince and cooked lentils to stretch it out. Or make it completely vegetarian by omitting the mince and use twice the quantity of cooked lentils (1 cup dried lentils equals 3 cups cooked).
Servings 4
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes


  • 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 400 g lamb mince
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon plus extra for dusting
  • ½ teaspoon ground fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 to 6 chopped fresh tomatoes OR 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon raisins
  • 1 ½ cups cooked brown lentils OR 2 x 400g canned lentils drained
  • Salt and pepper
  • 50 g butter
  • 1/3 cup flour gluten-free – use white rice flour
  • ¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 2 cups milk
  • 100 g feta crumbled
  • Roasted zucchini slices about 3 large zucchini – see above recipe


  • Heat a heavy-based frying pan over a moderate heat. Add olive oil and onion and garlic and saute for five minutes.
  • Add the mince, cinnamon, fennel, and rosemary and cook until browned. Add the bay leaf, tomatoes and raisins and cook gently for around 15 minutes until the mixture is nice and saucy. Add the drained lentils and cook for a further five minutes. Season to taste.
  • Make the white sauce. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the flour and nutmeg, mixing to make a roux (thick paste). Pour in the milk a little at a time while whisking constantly to remove lumps. Once all the milk is added simmer for several minutes then crumble over the feta and whisk to melt through the sauce.
  • Preheat the oven the 190C.
  • Assemble the moussaka in a baking dish starting with a layer of half the lentil mixture, then a layer of half the zucchini then repeat once more. Pour over the white sauce spreading out evenly. Sprinkle with a little cinnamon and bake for 30-35 minutes until bubbling around the edges. Serve immediately with a summer garden salad.

The dry heat of the oven works wonders on moisture-rich vegetables such as zucchini. When I have a load from the garden my usual go-to is a slow-roasted vegetable sauce to preserve into jars for winter cooking. When I have a deluge from the garden my usual go-to is a Slow-roasted Vegetable Sauce to preserve into jars for winter cooking – a recipe shared in my Homegrown Kitchen cookbook. 

This year, the zucchini are a few weeks ahead of the tomatoes and piling up on the bench. I am quite sure I am not the only one in this predicament! To keep ahead, I am batch cooking the cucurbits for the week ahead as a quick and flavoursome side on the summer table. Or layered into moussaka in place of eggplant, which is, honestly, just as good.



*Recipe first featured 31st January 2108 on Stuff.co.nz.

Join the Conversation

  1. Oh this looks delicious. I might give the courgettes another day or two to fatten up (!) then pick them to make this on the weekend.

    1. Good idea, they do seem to have slowed down this last week now the weather is little cooler 🙂 Enjoy.

  2. Just made this dinner!!! Was amazing!!! Loved it!! Though I added an extra tin of tomatoes and more lentils. I’ll totally make this again!! The sauce was amazing!!! Thank you xx

    1. Thanks Madeleine, great to hear. Love that you made it your own with extra additions. Happy cooking!

  3. Made a vegetarian version of this with a mix of Eggplant and Zuchinni. Amazing! All your recipes are excellent. And your book is a bible. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    1. Thank-you Alana, that really makes my day! Happiest cooking 🙂

  4. melanie pigptt says:

    Hi I find the zucchini moussaka with lentils and fennel was very nice and it inspires me to try new recipes of yours. regards melanie.

    1. Hi Melanie, thank-you 🙂 I have been writing and sharing recipes for over 18 years now, in some form or other, so this is lovely feedback to receive.
      Happy cooking! Nicola

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