Nick’s Rustic Vegan Moussaka

During the last two months of the COVID related lockdown period, I have been spending some time in the kitchen. I enjoy cooking and find it a theraputic and healing outlet. One of my favourite dishes is the famous Eastern Mediterranean dish moussaka. Making moussaka is a veritable treat and worth the effort. It is one of my favourite foods and my plant-based version of this dish is very filling and healthy. When I first made the original meat version of this dish, I followed a recipe on YouTube by the Greek chef Akis Petretzikis. I like his recipe since I find it rather easy to follow. What’s more, he bakes the aubergines, rather than fries them in oil, which I think is a much healthier alternative. I have incorporated some methods and elements of his recipe to this recipe and of course I have brought my own twist to this delicious dish.

In the original classic moussaka recipe, ground beef is used for the mince. Instead of ground beef, I use lentils. I also add some additional flavours to the mince by using cumin seeds and ground paprika.

The béchamel sauce is normally made using butter, milk and egg yolk. For my recipe, the béchamel sauce is completely plant-based and doesn’t include any dairy products or eggs. My version of the sauce is made simply by using extra virgin olive oil, plain flour and soya milk plus ground nutmeg, salt and ground black pepper for taste and flavours.

Lastly, for the first layer of the dish, I have added sweet sliced potatoes to go with the standard sliced potatoes.

 

INGREDIENTS 

1 large potato
1 large sweet potato
1 red onion
1 large aubergine
2 medium sized courgettes
Fresh or dried thyme
Extra virgin olive oil
Ground black pepper
Salt

For the mince:

2 cans of lentils (or cooked lentils)
1 can of diced tomatoes
2 generous tablespoons of tomato paste
1 red onion (chopped)
3 cloves of garlic (chopped)
Vegetable oil
Cumin seeds
Ground paprika
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

For the creamy béchamel sauce:

1 litre of soya milk
Plain Flour
Extra virgin olive oil
Ground nutmeg
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

 

Instructions:

1) Grease well a normal sized baking dish with oil.

2) Peel and thinly slice 1 large ordinary potato and 1 large sweet potato. Then peel and chop one red onion. Next put the sliced potatoes and chopped red onion into a bowl and drizzle them in extra virgin olive oil and add salt, ground black pepper and fresh or dried thyme.

3) Transfer the potatoes and onion mixture into the baking dish and evenly spread out.

 

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The first layer of sliced potatoes and chopped onions before entering the oven 

 

4) Preheat an oven to 200 degrees Celsius and put the baking dish inside for 20 minutes.

5) Whilst the potatoes and onions are cooking, finely and thinly slice the aubergine. Then put the cut slices into the bowl and generously drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and add salt, ground black pepper and fresh or dried thyme.

6) During the remainder of the time, as the potatoes and onions continue to cook, proceed to finely slice the two courgettes.

7) After 20 minutes remove the baking dish from the oven.

8) Then add to the dish, over the cooked potatoes and onions, the second layer of the sliced aubergines.

 

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The second layer of the sliced aubergines

 

9) Return the baking dish to the oven and cook for another 20 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius.

10) Whilst that is cooking, transfer the sliced courgettes into the bowl and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and add salt, pepper and thyme before mixing well.

11) Then for the rest of the time, before taking out the dish again, heat some vegetable oil in a wide and deep pan. Add a sprinkling of cumin seeds to the cooking oil. Then proceed to add the chopped red onion and garlic cloves  to the pan and cook on a reasonably high heat for a few minutes.

12) Turn down the heat and add a generous tablespoon of paprika and mix well.

13) Next, add the lentils and two generous tablespoons of tomato paste and mix it thoroughly into the lentils.

14) Then add and stir in the chopped tomatoes.

 

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The lentil mince mix of the dish

 

15) Add salt and ground black pepper to taste. Keep the lentil mince mix on a very low flame stirring occasionally.

15) By now, the potatoes, onions and aubergines should be ready to take out of the oven.

16) Once the baking dish is out of the oven, add the sliced courgettes over the aubergines and then return the baking dish to the oven and cook for 10 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius.

 

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The third layer comprising of the sliced courgettes

 

17) As the courgettes and other vegetables cook, heat a good amount of extra virgin olive oil in a saucepan. As the oil cooks, slowly add small teespoons of plain flour to the oil and mix well and thoroughly with a wooden spoon. Once the mixture becomes like a ball of sticky dough, slowly add a little of the soya milk to the mixture and mix well. Keep repeating this until you end up with a silky textured and creamy-like sauce.

18) Next, add salt and pepper to taste followed by a generous sprinkling of ground nutmeg to further enhance the flavour.

 

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The béchamel should have a silky and creamy texture

 

19) Once the béchamel sauce is ready, add a couple of generous tablespoons of the sauce to the lentil mince mix and stir in well.

20) When the courgettes are ready, take the baking dish out of the oven.

21) Transfer the whole lentil mix from the pan and smother over the courgettes in the dish.

 

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The fourth layer is made up of the lentil mince mix

 

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The plant based béchamel sauce makes up the final layer 

 

22) Next, scoop all the béchamel from the saucepan and cover over the lentils in the dish.

23) Finally return the baking dish to the oven and cook for 30 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius. Once the 30 minutes have elapsed, the moussaka should be ready to serve.

 

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Recipe and photos by Nicholas Peart

(c)All Rights Reserved

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