…last night’s answer to “What The Fuck Should I Have For Dinner?” This is a question I often have to answer when I (a) honestly have no clue what I feel like eating, or (b) know what I want but don’t have the ingredients and/or time to make it, or (c) have lots of meal-makings but am not in the food-mood for any of them. Sometimes, like last night, this results in a fabulous new recipe. Frustration turned into creation. Yay!
I hear you saying, “But moussaka’s not a new recipe!” and you’re quite right, but I looked around the interwebs for a vegetarian version, couldn’t find one that sounded great to me as-is, so I got down to the nuts and bolts of what makes a vege mousakka great, and boiled em down (so to speak) to make MY version of it. And damn, was it GOOD! A lot of work, yes, and I wish I had thought of it a couple of hours earlier – I started at about 8pm and ate just before 11, I think. But hell, I’m on holiday this week, so who cares? I can stay up all night cooking if I wanna.
If you’re good at multi-tasking, it might not take you as long to make this dish as it took me. I was taking it as quickly as I dared, venturing into new food territory. (Not to mention cooking whilst somewhat sloshed. :P) There’s a whole lot of sliced veges to fry in batches, and you could make your sauces on another element at the same time if you’re careful not to neglect and burn anything.
If you don’t really have a concept of what moussaka IS – like I didn’t – it’s sort of a lasagna crossed with a shepherd’s pie, using vegetables to make the layers and a lentil (or mushroom, or other bean) and tomato sauce – and then topped off with creamy cheese sauce. This can be easily veganised; simply use your favourite creamy UNcheese sauce. I recommend this one.
Here it is, in all its glory(?!). Not the most photogenic of foods, but it more than makes up for its appearance in deliciousness.
1 cup brown/green lentils
2 bay leaves
vegetable oil, for shallow frying
1 large eggplant
1-2 teaspoons crushed/minced garlic
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 vegetable stock cube
400g can crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
salt and pepper
about 3 cups of your favourite cheese/uncheese sauce
½ teaspoon nutmeg
Preheat oven to 180° C. Rinse lentils and put them in a pot with bay leaves and plenty of water. Gently boil until soft, then add a teaspoon of salt. Simmer for a few minutes more, then drain and remove bay leaves.
Meanwhile, thinly slice the eggplants, zucchini and potatoes. Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the vegetables in batches until golden-brown and fork tender. Remove from pan onto paper towels.
While the last batch of vegetables are frying, peel and dice the onion and garlic. Fry them in the now-empty pan, with the dried herbs, until translucent. Crumble in the stock cube, then add the tomatoes and tomato paste. Reduce heat and simmer for at least ten minutes. Season to taste. Stir in the cooked lentils.
Prepare cheese/uncheese sauce, including the nutmeg.
In a large rectangular baking dish, layer the eggplant, zucchini and potatoes with the lentil-tomato sauce, ending with a layer of vegetables. Then pour over the cheese sauce.
Bake for 30-40 minutes, until bubbling and golden-brown on top. Allow to cool for at least fifteen minutes, then serve, alone or with crusty bread on the side.