Vegetarian Moussaka

A new twist on the classic Greek dish.

Vegetarian. Hands-on time: 20 mins. Total time: 1 hour 40 mins.

Contributed by Moira Adams (March 2003).

Vegetarian Moussaka

Photo © Veg World

A traditional Greek moussaka is made with minced lamb. This succulent vegetarian version uses lentils in place of the meat, giving it a deep rich flavor - and without losing the authentic Hellenic taste. Any kind of lentils will work in this recipe (except the red variety, which goes mushy when cooked). I've had good results with both Puy and black beluga lentils.

Most of the dish can be made ahead of time; it is only the sauce that should not be left standing for too long. The quantities given here will produce four good portions if served with a green vegetable or side salad.



Oven: Pre-heat to 400F (200C)

Start by cooking the lentils in plenty of boiling water until just soft - about 20 to 30 minutes.

While the lentils are cooking, peel the potatoes and cut them into thin slices. Cover with salted water, and bring to the boil. Boil for about 20 minutes or until they are just beginning to soften.

Heat the oil in a large skillet and add the chopped onions. Cook for a few minutes. Then add the garlic, mushrooms, tomatoes and cinnamon. When the lentils are ready, drain them and add them to the skillet. Stir well, and remove from the heat.

Next, cook the eggplant. Cut it into thin slices, and broil or roast on a medium heat for about 30 minutes, turning once (if necessary, baste with a little olive oil or butter to keep it moist). Alternatively, cook the whole eggplant on high power in the microwave for about three minutes or until it is soft; leave it to cool before cutting it into thin slices.

You are now ready to assemble the moussaka. Place the lentil mixture in an oiled oven dish. Cover the mixture with the sliced eggplant, and then with the sliced potatoes; these should cover the entire surface area.

Finally, make a white sauce. Heat the oil in a pan, stir in the flour, then gradually add in the milk. Keep stirring as the sauce thickens. Let the sauce cool, then stir in the beaten egg. Spread the sauce over the top of the moussaka.

Cover the dish, and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the cover for the last ten minutes of baking.

Note on quantities and temperatures:
Quantities are given in American (cups), imperial (oz, fl oz) and metric (g, ml) units. Do not mix the units - use one or other system throughout the recipe.
See also How much does a cup weigh?
oz = ounces, fl oz = fluid ounces, g = grams, ml = milliliters, tsp = teaspoons, tbsp = tablespoons.
Oven temperatures are given in degrees F (Fahrenheit) and C (Celsius).
For fan-assisted ovens, reduce the temperature by 20F or 10C.