Vegetarian Greek Moussaka
Delicious Vegetarian Moussaka Recipe with Mushroom Sauce
Posted in Baked, Comfort food, Heartwarming dishes, Intermediate, Main Courses, Mainland Greece, Our hand picked recipes, Sunday family meal ideas, Vegetarian, Weekend family meal ideas Originally published on October 30, 2014 Last updated on November 2, 2015 By Eli K. Giannopoulos
Juicy, creamy and absolutely delicious! One of the most popular and beloved traditional Greek dishes, now done vegetarian! Although vegetarian moussaka is not a popular dish in Greece (as we all know Greeks love their meat!), after a lot of requests from my vegetarian friends, I was more than excited to come up with a vegetarian moussaka recipe that could happily replace my lamb/beef moussaka on my family table! This easy to follow vegetarian moussaka recipe never fails to impress and is always a crowd pleaser. Each stage will require dirtying some pans, but I think you will agree that the end result is well worth it! So go ahead, indulge yourself to this little sin..
Vegetarian Moussaka recipe – The secret is in the sauce
To prepare a traditional Greek Moussaka recipe, luscious layers of mince beef (or lamb) are cooked in a tomato based sauce, layered with sweet eggplants and creamy béchamel sauce and baked together until golden. For this vegetarian moussaka recipe mince beef/lamb is replaced with a delicious juicy mushroom based sauce, keeping of course, all the fragrant spices of the traditional Greek moussaka that give it’s unique taste and flavour. To prepare the sauce the chopped mushrooms are sautéed in olive oil, flavoured with onions and garlic and then simmered in white wine and tomato sauce. Simply irresistible! Just remember to let the sauce simmer for a while to allow the flavours to mingle for that little bit of extra deliciousness!
Vegetarian Moussaka recipe – Prepare the vegetables
As in the classic moussaka, the base for this vegetarian moussaka is nothing else than fried eggplants. Some moussaka recipes also use sliced potatoes, so if you like potatoes, try adding a layer of sliced potatoes as the first layer to this amazing dish, for some extra “comfort” during the winter months! For a lighter and healthier alternative to your vegetarian moussaka, try drizzling the aubergines (and potatoes) with some olive oil and bake them for ~20 minutes instead of frying them. Some eggplants may be bitter, so it is very important to remove the bitterness by soaking in water, rinsing, seasoning with salt and letting them stand for half an hour in a colander.
Vegetarian Moussaka recipe – Prepare the Bechamel sauce
Preparing the béchamel sauce is probably the trickiest part for this vegetarian moussaka recipe. To achieve the perfect texture for your béchamel sauce, make sure the milk is lukewarm and add it in the pan with the flour/butter mix just a little bit at a time whilst constantly stirring. My personal trick is to use a hand mixer with the whisk attachment to save some of the effort while stirring, and it always works at treat 🙂 The perfect béchamel sauce for your vegetarian moussaka should be smooth and creamy. The key is to whisk the sauce constantly while pouring just a little milk at a time, allowing plenty of time for the flour to absorb the milk, so that sauce doesn’t turnt lumpy. Cook the sauce over medium-low heat in order to prevent it from burning and sticking on the bottom of the pan, but be careful to cook it enough, until you can’t taste the flour and it has a thick consistency. If you are feeling a little lazy or don’t have too much time, you can skip the whole béchamel and try topping with good quality grated cheese instead!
So go ahead, give this delicious vegetarian Moussaka recipe a try and amaze your friends and family with this extra tasty hearty dish!
- 6-7 large eggplants
- vegetable oil (for frying the eggplants)
For the mushroom sauce
- 600-700g mushrooms, chopped (25 oz.)
- 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
- 1-2 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1/4 of a cup white wine
- 1/4 of a cup olive oil
- 1 tin chopped tomatoes
- 1 tsp sugar
- one cinnamon stick
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- chopped parsley (optional)
For the béchamel sauce
- 875ml milk (3 and 1/2 cups)
- 100g butter (3.5 ounces)
- 100g flour (3.5 ounces)
- a pinch of nutmeg
- 2 egg yolks
- 100g Parmigiano-Reggiano or Kefalotyri (3.5 ounces)
- To prepare this vegetarian moussaka recipe, begin by preparing your eggplants. Remove the stalks from the eggplants and cut them into slices, aprrox.1 cm thick. Season with salt and place in a colander for about half an hour.
- Rinse the eggplants with plenty of water and squeeze with your hands, to get rid of the excessive water. Pat them dry and fry in plenty of oil, until nicely colored. Place the fried eggplants on some paper, in order to absorb the oil. For a healthier version of this vegetarian moussaka recipe try drizzling the eggplants with some olive oil and bake them for 15 minutes at 200C instead of frying them.
- Now it’s time to prepare a delicious mushroom based sauce for your vegetarian moussaka. Heat a pan to medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Stir in the chopped mushrooms and sauté, until most of the juices have evaporated. Add the chopped onions and garlic and sauté. Pour in the wine and wait to evaporate. Add the tinned tomatoes, mushing them with a wooden spoon, the sugar, cinnamon and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, turn the heat down and simmer for about 15 minutes until most of the juices have evaporated and the sauce thickens.
- Lastly prepare the béchamel sauce for the vegetarian moussaka. Use a deep pan to melt the butter over low-medium heat. Add the flour whisking continuously to make a paste and add warmed milk in a steady stream. Keep whisking in order to prevent your sauce from getting lumpy. If the sauce still needs to thicken, boil over low heat while continuing to stir. Remove the pan from the stove and stir in the egg yolks, salt, pepper, a pinch of nutmeg and the grated cheese. Whisk really quickly and set aside while you assemble the dish.
- For this vegetarian moussaka recipe you will need a large baking dish, approx. 20*30 cm. Butter the bottom and sides of the pan and sprinkle with some breadcrumbs (this will help absorb the extra juices). Layer the eggplants. Pour in the mushroom sauce and even out. Add a second layer of eggplants, top with the béchamel sauce and smooth out with a spatula.
- Sprinkle with grated cheese and bake the vegetarian moussaka in preheated oven at 180-200C for about 25-30 minutes, until crust turns light golden brown. Even though it will be really hard.. you should wait for the moussaka to cool down for a while before cutting into pieces.
- Serve this delicious vegetarian moussaka with a refreshing Greek salad aside. Enjoy!