Vegan Moussaka with Eggplant and Lentils

What is Greek summer without moussaka? This plant-based version of the dish is just as comforting and delicious as the original, but lighter and healthier.


Method

Sprinkle aubergines with some salt and leave in a colander for about 30 minutes, to reduce bitterness.

Preheat the oven to 190°C on the fan setting and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Pat the aubergines dry with paper towels and place on the baking sheet (they may slightly overlap so that they can fit). Brush with olive oil on both sides, sprinkle with pepper and oregano and bake for approximately 20-30 minutes, until soft and golden.

Lentil “mince”: Meanwhile, boil the lentils in a pot on medium heat with the bay leaves and plenty of water for about 20 minutes, until soft but not mushy. Remove half with the slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl.  Keep cooking the remaining lentils for another 10-15 minutes, until very soft and almost pureed. Strain, remove bay leaves and add to the bowl with the other lentils.

In the empty pot, heat the oil over medium heat and sauté the onions for 2-3 minutes, until soft. Mix in the garlic and tomato paste, and stir for 1 minute. Add the lentils, fresh tomato and all the spices. Season to taste and mix well. Cook for about 10-15 minutes, until much of the liquid evaporates and the sauce thickens. Remove from heat, sprinkle with parsley and mix.

Bechamel: Heat the olive oil with the flour over medium-low heat, stirring with a whisk for 1-2 minutes, until the flour is slightly golden. Add the warm milk in batches, whisking all the time to avoid flour lumps forming. After adding all the milk, turn up the heat a notch and add the salt and nutmeg. Whisk constantly for 4-5 minutes, until the bechamel thickens slightly. Remove from heat.

Assembling the Moussaka: Preheat the oven to 200°C. In a medium sized, oven-proof dish place the aubergines in a single layer (about 1/3 of the total amount) and cover with half of the filling. Place another layer of aubergines, add the rest of the filling and add the final layer of aubergines. Pour béchamel sauce over the top and spread to cover evenly. Sprinkle with the rusk mixture and bake for approximately 40 minutes, until golden.

Remove from the oven and set aside to cool and set. Sprinkle with parsley and serve!

This recipe was previously published in Greek at gastronomos.gr.

Ingredients

7 flask type aubergines, medium sized, cut in 1 cm slices

2 tsp. dry oregano, crushed

½ cup barley rusk, pulsed in multichopper with 2 tbsp. olive oil

2 tbsp. finely chopped parsley, to serve

50 ml olive oil

salt and freshly ground pepper

Lentil “mince”

500 g medium lentils

2 dry onions, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 tbsp. tomato paste

250 g fresh tomatoes, grated

2 bay leaves

1 tsp. boukovo (crushed red pepper flakes)

2 tsp. oregano

1 tsp. spicy paprika

1 tsp. smoked paprika

1 tsp. cumin powder

1 tsp. cinnamon

½ bunch parsley, finely chopped

50 ml olive oil

salt and freshly ground pepper

Bechamel

70 g all purpose flour

50 ml olive oil

1 liter plant milk (almond, oat, etc.), warm

salt and freshly ground nutmeg


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