I love Greece any day, but being in Greece for Easter makes my soul (and stomach) really happy, especially as someone who prefers veggie delights. During holy week, most Greeks observe a strict vegetarian diet, meaning all those Greek favourites now become my Greek favourites. Among those has been a vegetarian Moussaka. Normally made with beef or lamb (or both), moussaka is a hearty, heavy dish. Not really something I could eat anytime I have a craving.
So, I set out on a mission to try all the vegetarian moussaka I could in Chania and create one myself. A tough job, I know. After all my diligent work in the name of creating a healthy version for all of you, I think I’ve come up with a winner. It has that same rich, meaty flavour without the meat or the dairy.
- 3 eggplants roughly peeled and cut lengthwise in 1/2 inch slices
- pinch salt (enough to lightly salt eggplant)
- 60 ml (1/4 cup) olive oil
- 20g (2 tbsp) vegan margarine or olive oil
- 200g (1 cup) puy lentils
- 500ml (2 cups) water
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 clove of garlic
- salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- 2 onions, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 300g cremini mushrooms, diced
- pinch cinnamon
- pinch freshly grated nutmeg
- 3g (2 Tbsp) dried parsley
- 1x 8 ounce can tomato sauce
- 120 ml (1/2 cup) red wine
Vegan Bechamel Topping
- 340g (1 cup) unsalted cashews
- 454g (1 pound) silken tofu, drained
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp sea salt
- pinch freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp nutritional yeast
- Start the bechamel topping first by covering the cashews with hot water. Leave to soak for 1 hour or overnight until soft and plump. Set aside and continue with the filling
- Lay the slices of eggplant on paper towels, sprinkle with salt, and set aside for 30 minutes to draw out the moisture. Then quickly fry in a skillet over high heat with olive oil until browned. Set aside on paper towels to drain.
- Put lentils into a colander, pick over any shrivelled lentils, or debris. Rinse under running water
- Transfer lentils into a saucepan and cover with water. Add bay leaf and garlic. Cook uncovered for 15 minutes to soften slightly. Strain lentils and remove bay leaf and garlic.
- In the same pot you cooked the lentils in, melt margarine and olive oil over medium heat then add onions and garlic. Cook until the onions are translucent. Add the diced mushrooms and cook until browned.
- After mushrooms are browned add the lentils, cinnamon, nutmeg, and parsley. Pour in the tomato sauce and wine. Simmer for 20 minutes. Allow to cool.
- To continue making the bechamel, drain away the soaking water and puree the cashews with the remaining topping ingredients in a blender or food processor until creamy. Scrape the sides occasionally with a spatula. This may take 1-4 minutes depending on your blender. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 375F and grease a 9×13″ baking dish. Arrange a layer of eggplant in the dish and cover with all of the lentil filling. Cover with remaining eggplant. Pour the bechamel sauce over the top using a rubber spatula to spread the topping evenly. Sprinkle top with freshly grated nutmeg.
- Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes or until the top feels firm. Heat the broiler on high and broil for 3-4 minutes until browned. Remove from heat and let cool before slicing