One of my absolute all time favorite movies is My Big Fat Greek wedding. I must have watched it half a dozen times. There are so many great lines. Apparently the whole movie is based on Nia Vardalos’s colorful family members. There is a scene in the movie where young Tula brings a homemade lunch at her school. Her schoolmates ask her what she is eating, she says “It’s moussaka”, one of her friend replies “Mouskaka?” Well, had they tasted it, they would have known that there is nothing kaka about moussaka!
So what is moussaka?
I like to think if eggplant parmesan had a child with shepherd’s pie it would be moussaka. Traditionally this dish is made with lamb meat, cheese and white cream sauce. Thin layers of roasted eggplants, tomato sauce, vegetable ground meat or lentils, white cream sauce with vegan cheese topped with a thick layer of fluffy baked potatoes. It is the definition of comfort food!
Moussaka comes from the Arabic word musaqqâ, meaning moistened. In this case the eggplants have been moistened by tomato sauce. I have seen it spelled Musaka, or Musakka. If you really like it, you might want to double the recipe and freeze portions for later because it takes a little time to prepare all the layers and you will be happy to have it ready in no time.
Vegan meat layer
Since we don’t consume any babies, goat, sheep or others, we use vegie meat like Gardein’s ground round or lentils. Both are a perfect replacement and no babies was slaughtered in the making of this dish. It is a win win for all!
Potato top layer
Most recipes top this dish with either a thick layer of mash potatoes or with a white cream sauce mixed with cheese. I say why choose when you can combine! Mash the warm potatoes with a fork and combine the cream sauce.
Serve with garlic bread and don’t forget to shout a traditional “opa” to mark the event. Just skip the usual plate smashing that usually accompany the cheer!
The Ultimate Vegan Moussaka
- Lasagna baking dish
- 1 large round eggplant
- 1 large onion chopped
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 2 large potatoes peeled
- 2 cups Gardein's vegie ground round
- 3 cups tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp thymes
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 2 cups breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup All-purpose or unbleached flour
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 3.5 cups non-dairy milk (plain soy, almond)
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- dash sea salt & pepper
- Peel the 2 large potatoes.
- Bring water to a boil and blanch the potatoes until tender but still firm (5-10 minutes).
- Run the potatoes under cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside.
Roast the eggplants
- Peel the eggplant leaving a few thin strips of skin (skin can be bitter so leaving a little purple shine adds color and allows the eggplant to cook perfectly.
- Cut 1/4 inch slices. Line a baking tray with paper towels and salt the slices.
- Let them sweat for half an hour. You don't want to skip this step otherwise, the eggplant will be watery and the layer won't hold together.
- Pan fry the slices on both sides or bake them for 15 minutes at 365F just to brown them.
Vegan meat layer
- Chop the onion, mince the 4 clove soft garlic and pan fry in a little oil for 2-3 minutes until translucent,
- Sprinkle thyme, paprika and oregano and add the 2 cups of vegie ground round or cooked lentils. Stir and set aside.
- Taste and season.
- Heat up the 1/2 cup of oil and 3.5 cups of non-dairy milk.
- Add the 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour, 1 tbsp cornstarch, salt and pepper.
- Stir on medium heat until it starts to thicken. Turn off the heat.
- Add the cooked potatoes and mash using a fork.
- Oil a lasagna baking dish. Sprinkle breadcrumbs and spread evenly.
- Place the roasted eggplant slices at the bottom of the dish.
- Pour 1/2 of the tomato sauce over the slices of eggplant.
- Top with the seasoned vegie meat mixed with the other half of the tomato sauce.
- Add the last layer made of mash potatoes with the bechamel sauce.
- Optional: sprinkle some vegan cheese on top.
- Bake the moussaka at 350 F for 60 minutes.
- Set aside to cool down for 10-15 minutes, to give time for all liquid to evaporate.