Recipe: Vegetarian Moussaka
Serves 6 | Prep Time 1/2 hour | Resting Time 10 minutes | Cooking Time 2 hours total
- 1 large eggplant
- 1 large russet potato
- 2 cups of button mushrooms, white or crimini
- 1 medium onion
- 1 medium red bell pepper
- 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1 pinch ground cloves
- 1 tsp paprika
- Olive oil
- 1 cup Vegetable stock
- 1 cup strong red wine, such as a Cabernet Sauvignon
- 1 cup San Marzano tomatoes, blended
- 4 to 5 sprigs of thyme
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp all purpose flour
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Peel the eggplant and the potatoes. Then slice into 1/4 inch half discs.
- Place a piece of parchment paper on two sheet pans. Oil lightly.
- Place the potatoes on one pan and the eggplant on the other.
- Coat well with the oil by sliding the slices once on the parchment paper.Squirt some more olive oil on top of the vegetables and salt lightly.
- Place in the oven for about 5 to 10 minutes until very tender. Test with a knife checking for the right resistance.
- Meanwhile make the sauce and the topping.
- Dice the red bell pepper and the onions very finely.
- Sweat in a sauce pot at low temperature with the addition of a pinch of salt. (Sweating means cooking at very low temperature allowing the water inside the vegetables to evaporate leaving the flavor behind and concentrating it.)
- Take the vegetables out of the pot and reserve. Add the finely chopped mushrooms and brown thoroughly at high heat. The mushrooms need to evaporate their water before they actually start browning, so take your time with this step.
- Push the mushrooms to the sides of the pan and add some more olive oil to the center area. Cook the garlic in the olive oil for about 30 seconds, until fragrant.
- Bring the reserved vegetables back to the pot and mix everything together with a spoon.
- Deglaze the pot with the wine and scrape the bottom to dissolve the “fond” (the little caramelized pieces of mushroom left over from the browning process). This is crucial to developing a more complex flavor.
- Add vegetable stock and the crushed tomatoes.
- Add thyme. Allow to simmer for about an hour, to concentrate flavors and develop more complexity.
- Add the cinnamon, cloves and paprika. Taste and adjust seasonings and the spices as needed.
- Meanwhile make the topping. Melt the butter in a small pot.
- Spoon in the flour and dissolve well.
- Pour milk, whisk well, and cook until it thickens. If lactose intolerant, replace the milk with vegetable stock.
- Crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk until yolk and egg white are well mixed.
- Temper the eggs with a little bit of the sauce and mix well. The idea here is to bring the eggs slowly to the right temperature without scrambling.
- Off heat, pour the tempered eggs into the sauce and mix well.
- Oil an oven proof dish large enough to fit the moussaka.
- Place a layer of the cooked potatoes in the bottom.
- Coat with a thin layer of sauce.
- Place a layer of eggplant on top and coat again with sauce.
- Repeat with more layers of eggplant and sauce until you reach about 1/4 from the rim of the dish.
- Spread the topping evenly.
- Place in the 350F oven for about 20 minutes until the top has cooked.
- Allow to rest 10 minutes before serving.
- Using a knife cut into serving portions. Make sure the moussaka is cut all the way and that the sides are separated from the dish.
- Using a wide spatula, serve on each dish as you would a lasagna.
This Greek dish is traditionally made with ground lamb. We replace it here with mushrooms minced finely to resemble it.
The sauce carries traditional Greek spices: cinnamon, cloves, paprika. The cloves are so strong that putting any more than the tiniest amount can ruin your dish, so be careful. You can always add more but not take away what has been placed in.
It is important to let the dish rest before cutting. Ingredients need to settle so that pieces will come out cleanly.
Learn to make this and much more during our cooking class :