Veggie or vegan Moussaka
This is a rich, filling, creamy dinner recipe, perfect for any cold night or comfort food. It's essentially a pasta-less vegan lentil lasagne. Although extremely tasty, it does take a while to put together as you have to pre-roast the garlic, pre-salt and roast the aubergine, make the bechamel sauce, and make the lentil filling separately before combining them into a delicious, layered Moussaka and putting the whole thing in the oven.
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cooking Time: 30 mins - 1hr
Roasted Garlic (for the bechamel sauce)
1 whole bulb of garlic
1 tsp olive oil
2 small aubergines or 1 large
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp oil
1 large white onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, grated or crushed
1 400g can of cooked brown lentils or 220g of dried lentils + 400ml of vegan stock
1 400g can of crushed or chopped tomatoes
1 bay leaf
a splash of red wine (optional)
1 tsp dried oregano (or 2 tsp fresh)
1/4 tsp nutmeg
salt & pepper, to taste
40g plain flour (or plain gf flour)
400ml (unsweetened dairy-free) milk
1 bay leaf
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
100g (vegan) cheese, grated*
* I really recommend Violife Epic Mature or a Mozzarella-style pre-grated vegan cheese
Roasted garlic. Heat the oven to 180°C fan/200°C/gas 6. Don't peel or separate the garlic, leave it as a whole bulb and slice off the very top. Set it on a piece of foil and drizzle it with oil before wrapping it up in the foil completely. Roast directly on a central oven rack for 50 minutes - 1 hr, or until the cloves are tender, fragrant, and light golden brown. It's best to do this ahead of time to allow for cooling too.
The Aubergine. Cut the aubergine horizontally into 0.5cm/1/4in slices. Then salt the slices on both sides and place them in a colander in the sink or over a mixing bowl for 30 minutes - this will draw out moisture and bitterness. After 30 minutes, place the aubergine slices between 2 clean towels or layers of kitchen roll and pat them dry.
Transfer the slices onto large baking sheets/trays lined with baking parchment and brush both sides with olive oil. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until slightly golden brown.
Filling. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion and sauté until golden brown, stirring occasionally.
Add the garlic and sauté for another 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat if the garlic is sticking.
Add the lentils (and stock if using dried lentils), crushed tomatoes, bay leaf, and a splash of red wine (optional). Season with oregano, nutmeg, and salt & pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes (or 20-30 minutes if using dried lentils, adding water if needed). Adjust seasonings to taste.
Bechamel. Put the flour, milk, bay leaf and nutmeg in a medium saucepan and season well with salt and pepper.
Bring to a simmer, whisking constantly with a metal or silicone whisk (depending on the pan) over a moderate heat for 4–5 minutes, or until smooth and thickened.
Once the bulb of roasted garlic has cooled, squeeze up from the bottom to the top of each clove to get the roasted garlic out. It should come out as a kind of purée. Add this to the saucepan.
Add a handful or two of the (vegan) cheese and cook until it has melted in, stirring.
Assembly. In a deep roasting tin, layer the bottom of the tin with the roasted aubergine slices (overlapping slightly if needed), then top with half of the lentil filling, spreading it into an even layer. On top of this, place another layer of the aubergine slices. The remaining lentil filling goes on top of this, spread into an even layer. Pour over the bechamel and smooth it out into an even layer. Sprinkle over the rest of the grated (vegan) cheese.
Put the whole, assembled Moussaka in the oven (180°C fan/200°C/gas 6) for 25-30 minutes. It should go golden brown around the edges, if not you can whack the temperature up for another 5-10 minutes.
Let it cool for 10 minutes before serving. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for 3-4 days, or in the freezer for up to 1 month.