Our Sommelier Suggests
Moussaka is a traditional dish to eat in Greece. Fresh summer vegetables, and savoury homemade vegan béchamel come together beautifully in this summery plant-based dish. For a vegan and gluten-free dish that all eaters will enjoy, try this hearty moussaka. This is a delicious Greek dish that is ideal for relaxed summer entertaining. Xinomavro, ‘acid and black’ in Greek, is one of the world’s rarest noble indigenous red grapes originating from the wine-privileged zone of Macedonia, Greece. Xinomavro is quite the diva on the grape runway, as it demands special terroir and care. Xinomavro is actually an ambassador grape variety of Greek wine and can be found with both Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) and PDO (Protected Designation of Origin), such as PDO Amyndeon (also Amyntaio, a town in the Florina regional unit of Macedonia, Greece) and PDO Naoussa (also Naousa, a city in the Imathia regional unit of Macedonia, Greece). Possibly the most popular Greek rosé (and affordable as well), Xinomavro is a very sexy wine that delivers aromas of wild red fruits and ripe tomatoes. Perfect pairing with Xinomavro rosé wine is a Mediterranean Greek feed of moussaka on the beach! Sit back and enjoy this earthan treat.
- Aubergines 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 aubergine. Brining the aubergines makes them extra creamy and sweet.
- Cooking potatoes in alkaline water — with added baking soda — can help tenderise 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 them develop a crispy outside coating. Also, this way you are using the minimum amount of a healthy oil for cooking, the Greek extra virgin olive. 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 perfectly complements the delicate earthy flavour 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 colour and texture. Pan-steaming or steam-frying or healthy sautéing is one of the healthiest cooking methods. The water-sautéed mushrooms are even tastier than the olive oil-sautéed ones!
- I recommend a healthy cooking method for every layer of vegetables for the vegan moussaka in order to boost flavour 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 flavour.
- 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!