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Moussaka
Summer vegan moussaka has so much flavor and it is hearty and light. This is a vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free recipe! Moussaka is a retro dish created by the Greeks of Smyrna and Alexandria; vegan moussaka is just as tasty as the traditional one: sweet eggplants, hearty potatoes and savory mushrooms, all topped with a rich vegan béchamel sauce.
Cuisine Smyrna
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 60 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
For the layer of potatoes
For the layer of eggplants
For the layer of mushrooms
For the vegan white sauce (béchamel)
Other
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil Greek extra virgin (for greasing the baking dish)
  • 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs topping (optionally)
Cuisine Smyrna
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 60 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
For the layer of potatoes
For the layer of eggplants
For the layer of mushrooms
For the vegan white sauce (béchamel)
Other
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil Greek extra virgin (for greasing the baking dish)
  • 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs topping (optionally)
Instructions
  1. Wash the eggplants, trim off the stems and peel off the skin. Cut the eggplants into 1cm or 1/2 inch disks. Fill a large bowl with cold water, add 1tbsp salt and stir until it dissolves completely. Submerge the disks in the salted water. Let the eggplant disks sit in the brine for at least 20'.
  2. Scrub the potatoes clean, but leave the peel intact. Add cold water, plus 1tsp. baking soda to a cooking pot. Place the potatoes in the pot. Set on medium-high heat. Bring the water to a boil and simmer the potatoes for 15'. Remove from heat. At this point the potatoes are partially cooked. Drop the potatoes in cold water and peel off the skins. It is easier to peel off the skins after the potatoes are cooked. Cut the potatoes into 1cm or 1/2 inch slices.
  3. Preheat oven to 230°C or 446°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  4. Rinse the eggplant disks and throw out the water. Sprinkle eggplants with 1/4tbsp salt, pinch of pepper and 2tbsps olive oil and mix by hand. Arrange them on the half of the baking sheet.
  5. Put the potatoes, 1/2tbsp salt, 1/4tbsp ground black pepper and 2tbsps olive oil into the same bowl and toss them around to form an even coating, then place on the same baking sheet. Roast the vegetables, uncovered, 20' until they are tender and slightly brown on edges.
  6. In a nonstick pan sauté the diced scallions and the minced garlic with some lukewarm water over medium heat for about 3'.
  7. Add the mushrooms. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon. The liquid is evaporated in about 5'. Now is the best time to pour some wine over them, if desired, and let it evaporate. Sprinkle with oregano and season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour 2-3tbsps olive oil, stir to mix and immediately remove from heat.
  8. Use olive oil to grease a casserole dish or a pyrex glass baking dish 25x19cm, optionally sprinkle breadcrumbs for crispy texture. Place a layer of potatoes in the base, top with mushrooms, and finish with a layer of eggplants.
  9. Preheat the oven to 220°C or 428°F.
  10. For the vegan béchamel sauce, keep 1/2 cup milk aside and boil the rest of it in a heavy bottom pan set over medium heat.
  11. In the meantime, add the cornflour to the 1/2 cup milk and mix until dissolved. After the milk has reached boiling point, lower the heat, then add the cornflour and almond milk mix to thicken the sauce. Stir vigorously. Season with salt and pepper and pour the olive oil. After 2'-3' the sauce has reached the desired thickness (keep in mind that the sauce will continue to thicken as it cools). Remove from the heat.
  12. Spoon over the sauce, making sure it covers in a thick, even layer. Optionally sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Bake for 20', or until golden and crispy on top. Βon appétit!
Recipe Notes

Tips

Eggplants are at their very best in the height of summer and they are one of the most important staples in the Mediterranean. The moussaka principal ingredient is, of course, the eggplant. Brining the eggplant makes the eggplant extra creamy and sweeter.

Cooking potatoes in alkaline water—with added baking soda—can help tenderize the potatoes while preventing them from falling apart (see the photo of me holding the potato slice). Boiling your potatoes before you toss them into the oven, helps the pieces develop a crispy outside coating. Also, this way you are using the minimum amount of a healthy oil, the Greek extra virgin olive, for cooking. This is a fast and healthy way to cook potatoes.

Mushrooms have high water content; when they are cooked, they release a lot of liquid. It is better to cook the scallions until tender, and then add the mushrooms, this way you do not end up with a soggy mess. Food retains heat, so the mushrooms continue to cook well after being removed from the heat. Also, mushrooms are very absorbent, so they absorb the oil quickly. Greek extra virgin olive oil is a perfect complement to the delicate earthy flavor of mushrooms, plus olive oil is traditionally used in the Smyrna cuisine and it is considered the secret to good health. By steam-frying or sautéing mushrooms using water and by adding the oil after cooking you get all the health, taste and texture benefits of olive oil.

When cooking vegetables I would strongly advise you to do so in a way that retains as many nutrients as possible, and preserves color and texture. Pan-steaming or steam-frying or healthy sautéing is one of the healthiest cooking methods. The water-sautéed mushrooms are even tastier the olive oil-sautéed ones!

I am recommending you a healthy cooking method for every layer of vegetables for the vegan moussaka in order to boost flavor and minimize nutrient loss.

You can add less ground black pepper to this recipe, if you wish (be sure to taste test). Vegan moussaka is not too spicy, but it releases a very subtle pepper flavor.

This velvety vegan béchamel sauce has the right consistency, it is a classic béchamel in texture, and has a hint of nuttiness. It actually tastes better than the non-vegan béchamel sauce. Vegan béchamel sauce recipe requires only 5 healthy and accessible ingredients; its simplicity is the key to success in cooking a perfect decadent vegan white béchamel sauce.

You should try vegan moussaka, it will excite your palate!

Wine and Food Pairing

For the optimum eating experience, pair your homemade moussaka with a fresh, fruit-driven rosé wine with a dry finish. The gourmet main dish is creamy and calls for a soft, smooth rosé with floral notes and tropical fruit flavors.

Gluten-free

Healthy and delicious moussaka is gluten-free! If you're on a gluten-free diet, do miss out on life's simple pleasures, the summery vegan moussaka.

Retro Recipe

Moussaka is a retro dish created by the Greeks of Smyrna and Alexandria; vegan moussaka is just as tasty as the traditional one: sweet eggplants, hearty potatoes and savory mushrooms, all topped with a rich vegan béchamel sauce.


Moussaka

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