I’ve been meaning to post a vegan Moussaka for some time but it’s one of those recipes I hadn’t yet got around to doing (there are many of them). Recipes for moussaka vary considerably from region to region and it is a popular dish throughout the Balkans and the Middle East. We are perhaps more familiar with the Greek version, which is the most popular in Europe and America. I have put my take on it here and I hope you will enjoy this version, which uses vegan mince. If you’re not a fan of vegan mince, then try using a combination of mushrooms and cooked lentils instead. Canned green lentils would be perfect.
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The recipe uses quite a lot of aubergine, which you will need to salt first to remove the bitterness. To do this, just slice up all of the aubergine and lay the slices out on trays. Sprinkle with salt and leave for about 15 minutes. You will see lots of moisture come out of them, which can then be patted dry.
Potatoes are also a common ingredient in a lot of moussaka recipes and I have chosen to use baby potatoes for mine, with the skins left on. The potatoes are sliced thinly and boiled for just a few minutes before draining. If you overcook sliced potatoes you’ll quickly end up with lots of broken pieces, so do keep an eye on them. Four minutes seems to be a good amount of time, so that you can poke a small knife through them but there is still a little resistance.
This is quite a lengthy dish to make, with all the segments being cooked separately before being pieced together at the end, so you will need to allow a bit if time to make it. If you use fresh mince you can portion it and freeze it later if you are on your own, or if there are just two of you. Otherwise it will happily feed a family of six.
Making this dish gluten-free is very easy. All you have to do is use a gluten-free vegan mince and switch to chickpea flour (or another gluten-free flour) to thicken the bechamel.
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Easy to make gluten-free.
- 3 aubergines
- A large sprinkle of salt
- 3 tbsp olive oil per batch of aubergines
- 600 g baby new potatoes skin left on
For the Tomato Sauce:
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 red onions sliced
- 1 large / 2 small courgettes halved and then sliced
- 3 large cloves garlic roughly chopped
- 600 g vegan mince use gluten-free if required
- 100 g tomato puree
- 2 cans chopped tomatoes
- ½ can water plus a little more if needed
- 4 heaped tsp smoked paprika
- 2 heaped tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 tbsp sugar
- Salt and pepper to taste
For the Bechamel:
- 50 g vegan butter
- 2 tbsp flour use chickpea flour of you need gluten-free
- 350 ml vegan milk
- 3 heaped tbsp nutritional yeast
- A good pinch of salt
- 75 g vegan cheese grated
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- 50 ml vegan cream
- 2 heaped tbsp vegan yoghurt Greek style is best
- 75 g vegan cheese grated
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- First slice the aubergines to about 5mm thick, lay them out onto trays and then sprinkle over the salt. Set aside for 15 minutes, until moisture seeps from them. Wipe this off with kitchen paper or a tea towel just prior to cooking.
- While they are resting, bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and cook the potato slices. Test them after 4 minutes by inserting a small sharp knife into some of them. If it goes in fairly easily then they are cooked enough. You want to stop the cooking before then become too soft and crumble, so keep an eye on them. Once cooked, drain, cover and set aside.
- Once the aubergine is ready, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan or skillet. Lay out as may aubergine slices as you can in your pan and cook for a few minutes on each side, until they are browned both sides. You will have to do this in a few batches. Alternatively, you can do this in the oven. Just brush the aubergines with the oil and lay them out on baking trays. Cook as many batches as you can in the oven on gas 6/200C/400F, for 15-20 minutes. Once all of the aubergines are cooked, set them aside until ready to use.
- To make the main tomato sauce, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or wok. Cook the onions and the courgettes together for 8-10 minutes, until they are soft and browned. Add the chopped garlic and cook for another 3 minutes or so, until the aromas come through. Now stir in the vegan mince and give it a few minutes to brown slightly in the pan.
- Now it’s time to build up the sauce. Stir in the tomato puree, the 2 cans of tomatoes and the half can of water. Bring to the boil and turn down to a gentle simmer (you can add a little more water here if you need to). Now put in the paprika, oregano, cinnamon and sugar, stir in and cook for about 20 minutes, until you have a nice thick tomato sauce. Season with the salt and pepper to your taste, cook for a couple more minutes and then set aside.
- To make the bechamel sauce, melt the vegan butter in a small saucepan and stir in the flour until it is lump-free. Pour in the vegan milk, a little at a time and stirring throughout to prevent lumps from forming. Add the rest of the bechamel ingredients and gently simmer for about 5 minutes. You should have quite a thick bechamel sauce at the end. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to gas 6/200C/400F.
- This recipe fits the dimensions of my oven dish, which are: 33cm x 22cm x 6.5 cm. It goes to the very top, so you don’t want anything smaller, or you’ll have some left over.
- Place your oven dish onto a baking tray to catch any potential spillage. Spoon a third of the tomato sauce onto the bottom of the dish and spread out evenly. Now layer half of the potato slices on top of the sauce and half of the aubergine slices on top of the potatoes. Spoon another third of the tomato sauce to cover the aubergines, then repeat with the last of the potatoes and aubergines. Now spoon on the final layer of tomato sauce. Pour the bechamel over the top and spread until it covers the sauce, then sprinkle over the grated vegan cheese. Finally dust with the paprika and the oregano.
- Place in the middle of the oven and cook for 40-50 minutes, until browned and bubbling on top. Allow it to stand for about 15 minutes before serving.
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