Incredible Greek food in the healthiest way possible. This vegan moussaka gives the original version a run for its money! Creamy, satisfying and delicious.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Ralphs. The opinions and text are all mine.
This post was originally published on 11/14/16
Eeeek!!! The holidays are right around the corner. Am I the only one freaking out? It’s officially go time, and this is going to be top of my list this year. Creamy, satisfying and delicious. And, it’s based on my Greek mothers authentic recipe, this is the real deal people.
Growing up Greek, moussaka is something my mom made at home. It took some work, so she usually reserved it for special occasions. Since I love having something different when I host Christmas, I decided that it was time to make this traditional Greek recipe vegan.
What is moussaka made of?
Traditionally, moussaka is made of cream and meat. Two things that are not part of a plant based diet. But I knew that with some experimenting, I could make it happen.
After the success of my Greek Vegan Pastitsio, this vegan moussaka has been on my list of family recipes to create and post, which made it a perfect recipe to create as part of the Ralphs Thanksgiving campaign, showing people how great a plant-based main dish can be for the holidays.
I used the Ralphs Private Selection and Simple Truth Organic products and got busy in the kitchen. I think I hit it out of the park with this one.
The creamy béchamel I knew I could easily do. The meat sauce was a little trickier. I went with the traditional lentil base because I really like the texture of the lentils, but I wanted a little more to it.
That’s where I added some chickpeas and walnuts to the mix. I went with the dried chickpeas (soaked overnight) because I think they have a much meatier texture.
Cooking both the walnuts and the chickpeas with the rest of the sauce helped soften them a bit, and pulsing the mixture at the end gave it that perfect consistency. I love the added layer of texture and flavor these gave to the vegan moussaka!
Can you make Vegan Moussaka ahead of time?
Moussaka is a love hate kind of recipe. It is SO good but takes some work. However I have a few tips on how you can prep this recipe so that is isn’t so hard the day you need it.
- Make the meaty filling.
- Make the béchamel.
- Prep the eggplant.
Store all of these in the fridge until ready to use. I would suggest that you make these no more than 2-3 days ahead of time. You can also make the meaty filling and béchamel and freeze them until ready.
The moussaka itself can be made the day before you want to serve it if you don’t have time the day of. I would half bake it, then bake it the rest of the way the day of. Make sure to check to see if you need to add some broth to the dish so it doesn’t dry out when baking.
If it starts to get too dry and burn at the bottom, then just drizzle a little broth along the sides so it sinks to the bottom of the dish.
Tips for freezing and storage
You can also make this moussaka ahead of time and freeze until ready to eat it. Nothing is as good as it is fresh, but this recipe freezes pretty well. Make sure it has cooled completely before you attempt to freeze it. Here is how I do it:
- Make the moussaka. Cool completely.
- Wrap the top in plastic, with the plastic layer touching the top to help with freezer burn.
- Wrap the top in foil.
You could also cut it into pieces, then wrap in plastic and foil and store in an airtight container in the freezer. When you are ready to eat it, defrost it on the counter. Then you can heat in the microwave or reheat in the oven adding a drizzle of broth if it starts to get dry or burn.
How to Make Vegan Moussaka
Not going to lie, this one takes some time and effort. But it is SO worth it! You can also check out my tips on how to prep ahead to make this easier.
- Broil the eggplant and make the “meaty” layer.
- Make the béchamel layer.
- Layer the moussaka similar to how you layer lasagna.
- Bake and serve!
Side trick I learned if you don’t like eggplant, you can sub with potatoes or zucchini! Not the original idea, but it does the trick and it’s pretty good!
What do you serve moussaka with?
When it comes to moussaka, you don’t really need to serve it with anything because it’s an all encompassing recipe. You have protein, and grains and veggies so one and done!
But, if you wanted to make something a bit extra, I suggest serving it with a salad, greens or veggies of some sort. Here are some of our favorite sides for moussaka:
- peas with scallions and dill
- sautéed spinach
- maple roasted carrots
- maple roasted Brussels sprouts
- vegan spanakopita
Vegan Moussaka Recipe
- 2 pounds eggplant (about 2 large)
- 1 cup sweet onion , chopped
- 2 cloves garlic , chopped
- ½ cup dried chickpeas (soaked overnight then rinsed and drained)
- ½ cup dried green lentils
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- 2 cups veggie broth , low sodium if needed
- 1 pound tomatoes , chopped (about 4 medium)
- ½ cup chopped parsley
- ¼ cup tomato sauce
- ¼ cup red wine
- 2 teaspoons sea salt , divided
- 1/8 teaspoon white pepper (see note)
- Your favorite cooking oil or more veggie broth to sauté and coat eggplant
- 9 tablespoons breadcrumbs , gluten free if needed (1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon)
- Grateable Vegan Parmesan
- Cook the potato for the béchamel sauce by boiling it on the stove until soft.
- Meanwhile, slice the eggplant into thick pieces, about ½ inch. Place them on a paper towel and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the salt. Allow them to sit while preparing other parts of the recipe. This will help bring out some of the water.
- Make vegan Parmesan if not made. Divide it into 4 equal parts.
- Take eggplant pieces and wipe of any excess water with a paper towel. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and brush with oil or broth.
- Put eggplant in the oven and broil. Start with 5 minutes on each side, keep checking and leave until golden brown. Mine was 8 minutes on the first side, and 5 on the second.
- Make béchamel sauce by placing all ingredients into a blender and blending until nice and smooth.
Make “meat” sauce:
- Sauté onion and garlic with half of the salt (1 teaspoon) and oil or splash of broth until brown.
- Add presoaked chickpeas, lentils and walnuts, sauté a few minutes. Add broth, fresh chopped tomatoes and parsley.
- Cook partially covered for 20 minutes until the liquid is almost gone and beans are al dente. Then add the tomato sauce, wine, the other half of the salt and pepper. Stir and cook partially covered for another 5 minutes until most of the liquid is gone.
- Allow it to cool a bit, then put it into a food processor and pulse to make it a chunky ground meat like texture. This is optional, if you prefer to leave it whole, that’s fine too. You could also simply pulse the soaked chickpeas before putting them into the pot so that at least those aren’t round and whole. Just take note that if you don’t pulse the mixture a bit the texture will be off.
- Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C)
Put the moussaka together:
- Brush bottom of a 9 x 12 dish with a drizzle of oil or broth.
- Put ¼ cup breadcrumbs on the bottom to coat it and help prevent burning.
- Line the dish with half of the eggplant pieces.
- Sprinkle with ¼ of the parmesan.
- Top with the “meat” mixture.
- Sprinkle ¼ cup breadcrumbs on top.
- Sprinkle with ¼ of the parmesan.
- Place half of the eggplant pieces on top.
- Sprinkle with ¼ of the parmesan.
- Pour the béchamel over it.
- Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of breadcrumbs.
- Sprinkle the top with the last ¼ of the parmesan.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes until the top is brown. Make sure not to overbake or it will dry out. Allow it to cool so it can thicken and settle. Devour your hard work!
- If you prefer not to use wine, then add veggie broth in place of it, although the red wine gives it a great flavor.
- You can make breadcrumbs if you prefer homemade. Toast 2 pieces of bread until crisp, then blend in a food processor.
- If you are not using a high speed blender you can either soak the cashews overnight or grind them into a fine powder using a coffee grinder.
- You can use regular black pepper in place of white pepper in both parts of this recipe, the white allows the béchamel to look smooth without any black spots in it.
- If you are not an oil user, then feel free to use more broth when sautéing and broiling.
- If you hate eggplant, you could also sub potatoes for the eggplant, or even zucchini. Just make sure to cut the zucchini thick and salt it as it has a lot of water.
- Soak chickpeas. You can make the “meat” mixture, béchamel and parmesan before the day you put it together to make it go must faster day of.
- Great baby and toddler food. Make sure you pulse the “meat” mixture well so that there are no large pieces of walnuts left. You may also want to skin the eggplant as the skin can sometimes be tough for young ones to eat.
Recipe by Veggies Don’t Bite, visit our site for more great plant-based recipes.