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Vegan Greek Pastitsio

Greek gone vegan like never before! This traditional dish takes on a new healthy look without losing any of the authentic taste. Fiber, protein, deliciousness all in one!
Course Main Course
Cuisine Greek
Diet Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes
Servings 12
Calories 601kcal
Author Sophia DeSantis

Ingredients

“Meat” sauce:

Option #1 Cream sauce: More vegetable base, lighter

Option # 2 Cream sauce: Has no cauliflower and tastes more like heavier béchamel

Optional:

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 F/ 175 C. 
  • Cook brown rice in 2 cups veggie broth in a pot over the stove, watching to make sure it doesn’t burn. Remove from heat once all the broth is absorbed. The rice will be very al dente when done but you don’t want it fully cooked so that it doesn’t get mushy when adding it to the final dish.
  • Boil cauliflower until very soft. Once soft, strain and add it along with all other cream sauce ingredients to a high speed blender and blend until smooth and creamy. You can use a regular blender, but may need to mix it a while to get a smooth consistency. Set sauce aside.
  • Chop onion and sauté in veggie broth or olive oil in a sauté pan until slightly cooked. 
  • Add lentils and sauté until onions become soft. Add more veggie broth if it gets too dry.
  • Add tomatoes and parsley to the pan. 
  • Sauté for a few minutes, then add wine, salt and pepper. Add rice and continue to cook until lentils begin to get soft and rice softens a little. You do not want it to get overly cooked.
  • Once done, pour into a bowl and use an immersion blender to pulse mixture until chunky but not mushy. You want pieces of rice and lentils and not a paste. If you do not have an immersion blender, you can pour the sauce into a food processor to chop, but be careful with the sauce being too hot.
  • Cook pasta according to package instructions, but less about a minute or so. You want the pasta slightly al dente since it will be baking again in the oven.
  • In a bowl, mix half of the pasta with 1 cup of the “meat” sauce and ½ cup of the cream sauce. Place on the bottom of a 9 x 12 baking dish. 
  • Then spread remaining “meat” sauce evenly over the pasta. The sauce makes quite a bit so if it seems to be too much for you, you can leave some out and use it as a pasta sauce at a later time. It also freezes well.
  • Mix the other half of the pasta with 1 cup of the cream sauce and place over “meat” sauce layer. 
  • Pour the remaining cream sauce over the top and spread evenly. Top with Parmesan if using.
  • Cover with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 15 minutes. Let cool and set before cutting and serving for best results.

Notes

  • Makes a 9 x 12 baking dish
  • If you are not using a high speed blender, there are a couple of options for making your sauce smooth: You can use a coffee grinder to grind the nuts into a fine powder, or make sure to soak them overnight, or for at least 2 to 3 hours. If you forget, you can also boil them for 30 minutes.
  • I used the green lentils here because they stay the most firm when cooked. You can use brown, but they will get a tad mushier. I wouldn’t recommend red as they get very soft.
  • You can use water to cook the rice in but the broth gives it a little more flavor.
  • If you do not have fresh tomatoes, you can use canned or bottled crushed tomatoes but I found they give a tangier flavor that I didn’t love.
  • You can also use more broth instead of the white wine if preferred, but it gives a great flavor to the dish.
  • If you want to make this nut free, you can sub with more cauliflower, white beans, sunflower seeds or a combo of any or all. The consistency and taste when baked may not be exactly the same but it will still work.
  • I use veggie broth throughout this dish so take note when calculating how much you need.
  • Nutrition info includes the cauliflower cream sauce version.
Tips to prep ahead:
  • Make the cream and "meat" portion beforehand, then simply boil the pasta the day of and put the dish together. Make sure you set the sauces out to get to room temp before assembling.

Nutrition

Calories: 601kcal | Carbohydrates: 80g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0g | Trans Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 0mg | Sodium: 108mg | Potassium: 761mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 900IU | Vitamin C: 21.4mg | Calcium: 68mg | Iron: 4.3mg