Traditionally, moussaka is made with tomatoes, sauteed aubergine (eggplant) and minced meat. Although I think of moussaka as a Greek dish, it’s also native to the Balkans and Middle East (thank you, Wiki!).
I made this dish with neither aubergine nor meat (nor faux meat!), but yes, I still dare to call it moussaka.
Many thanks go to Wendy from A Wee Bit of Cooking for her great vegetarian moussaka recipe, upon which mine is based. Wendy set out to duplicate Marks & Spencer’s veggie moussaka, and spent months toiling in the kitchen perfecting her creation.
I’ve actually never sampled the M&S moussaka, as it’s vegetarian and not vegan. Wendy’s version is also vegetarian, and the topping is made with milk, cheese and eggs. But the filling is vegan, and I must say it is simply delicious. Although it’s made with lentils and vegetables, with nary a bit of faux meat in sight, it tastes surprisingly meaty.
I had a few courgettes (zucchini) on hand, so decided to use those instead of aubergine. But next time I make it, I’ll definitely try it with aubergine.
To make the topping vegan, I used soy milk, vegan cheese and omitted the eggs. It didn’t have the same consistency as traditional moussaka topping, and to be honest, needs a bit of work. It tasted really good, but was a bit too thin. Next time I’ll play around with the topping.
For the vegan cheese, I used a combination of mozzarella-style cheese (Cheezly brand) and vegan blue cheese (Sheese brand).
Vegan Greek moussaka
|550g||courgettes (zucchini)||1-1/4 pounds|
|extra virgin olive oil|
|38g||brown lentils||3 tablespoons|
|38g||Puy lentils||3 tablespoons|
|1||medium red pepper, finely chopped||1|
|1/2 stick||celery, finely chopped||1/2 stick|
|1 clove||garlic, minced||1 clove|
|1/4 teaspoon||dried thyme||1/4 teaspoon|
|1/2 x 400g tin||chopped tomatoes||1/2 x 14-oz can|
|75ml||red wine||2-1/2 ounces|
|dash||vegan Worcestershire sauce||dash|
|to taste||salt and freshly ground pepper||to taste|
|300ml||vegan bechamel sauce||1-1/4 cups|
|75g||vegan cheese||3 ounces|
1. In a heavy skillet, gently saute courgette (zucchini) in a little olive oil until golden and tender. Set aside.
2. Make the bechamel sauce (I used the same one as Wendy, here, substituting soya milk for milk and margarine for butter. Stir in the cheese until it melts. Set aside.
3. Put lentils in two separate pots. Cut the onion in half, then cut one of the halves in half again. Add one of the smaller onion chunks and half a bay leaf to each pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until lentils are cooked. Drain, reserving a bit of the cooking water. Discard onion & bay leaf.
4. Gently fry the remaining half onion in a bit of olive oil for 10 minutes, until translucent. Add red pepper and celery and continue to cook for another 10 minutes. The onion should be golden and the pepper & celery almost cooked through. Add garlic and thyme and cook for a couple more minutes.
5. Preheat oven to 180C (350F).
6. Add cooked lentils to the vegetables and stir well. Add tomatoes and wine. Mix well, increase heat and bring to a boil. Add some of the lentil cooking water if the mixture looks too dry. Add Worcestershire sauce and salt & pepper to taste.
7. Lightly grease a small casserole dish with olive oil. Assemble the moussaka: half the courgette (zucchini); all of the lentil mixture, the other half courgette; and bechamel sauce.
8. Bake for 35 minutes until golden and bubbling.
Makes two generous servings.