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Vegan Moussakas (Nistisimos)

Vegan Moussakas (Nistisimos)

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This vegan moussakas (nistisimos) is as delicious as the real one. It is layered with eggplants, potatoes and zucchini, with a vegan vegetable filling and a delicious vegan “faux” bechamel sauce. 

Vegan Moussakas Nistisimos image

Moussakas, (which is a singular noun and not moussaka, plural moussakas) is one of the most known Greek dishes.

The traditional way of making it is with layers of vegetables, with a meat sauce in the middle, again a layer of vegetables and topped with a béchamel sauce in which some myzithra is added to the sauce or grated on top.

Doesn’t that sound delicious? Well if you want that version of moussakas you will find the recipe here.

When I made the vegan béchamel, I then knew that this was the beginning of a lot of other delicious dishes.

My second recipe using the vegan béchamel after pastitsio, was of course to make moussakas.

The dish is so delicious and healthy that even non vegans will admit that this is much better than the original and this will be regularly in our menu, not only during Lent.

Vegetable filling image

The total amount of olive oil used was not more than 1/2 a cup for the whole dish.

I used my sautéing pan instead of frying them and for each vegetable I sautéed I added a tablespoon of olive oil on the pan.

The only vegetable which needed a little bit more oil, was the eggplant as it absorbs the olive oil quickly.

Make sure to peel it and sauté it immediately, as eggplants oxidize and change colour to brown quite quickly.

You have probably seen in many recipes that you have to soak the eggplants in water with salt to remove the bitterness.

This does not apply any more because modern methods of cultivating eggplants have managed to remove the bitterness from the eggplants.

I always prefer to use tsakonikes eggplants, which do not have seeds in them.

Tsakonikes eggplants image

However, if you think that the eggplants you usually buy in your country are bitter, then you’ll have to soak the eggplants in salted water for at least 30 minutes and then pat dry before sautéing.

collage preparing vegan moussakas image
Bechamel on top of Moussakas image

Vegan Moussakas

Yield: 8
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes

This vegan moussakas is as delicious as the real one. It is layered with eggplant, potatoes and zucchini, with a vegan vegetable filling and a delicious vegan "faux" bechamel sauce. 

Ingredients

  • 4 medium tsakonikes eggplants, partly peeled and cut into thin slices (Japanese or other types of eggplants can also be used)
  • 4 potatoes, cut into thin slices
  • 3 small zucchini, cut into thin slices
  • ½ cup olive oil for frying
  • Ground cinnamon to sprinkle on top

Vegetable Filling:

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 small eggplant, peeled and cubed
  • 1 zucchini, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1 celery rib, finely chopped
  • 200 grams (7 oz) pleurotus (oyster) or other mushrooms, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup pummaro (concentrated tomato juice)
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • A pinch of oregano and thyme
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, only the leafs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ cinnamon stick
  • ½ cup parsley, finely chopped

Faux Béchamel Sauce:

  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled and boiled
  • ¾ cup blanched almonds
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp vinegar

For the Roux:

  • 50 grams extra virgin olive oil
  • 50 grams all-purpose flour
  • About 5 cups of the potato water
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • White pepper to taste (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg

Instructions

Prepare the filling:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a sautéing pan and sauté the onion until soft.  Add the garlic and sauté for a few seconds
    until fragrant. 
  2. Add the zucchini (courgettes), the mushrooms, the carrots, the eggplant (aubergine) as well as the celery and sauté until they are soft.
  3. Add the tomato as well as the tomato juice, bay leaf, oregano, savory, rosemary and oregano or thyme. 
  4. Season with salt and pepper, allspice and cinnamon, add the water and simmer until the vegetables are cooked and remain with a thick sauce.
  5. When they are cooked discard the bay leaf and mix in the parsley.

Fry the vegetables:

  1. Meantime, wash the vegetables and dry them.
  2. Peel the potatoes and cut them into ½ cm thick slices.
  3. Heat the olive in a non-stick frying pan and fry the potatoes on both sides, in batches.
  4. While frying them, cut the zucchini a little bit thinner without peeling them. 
  5. Eggplants must be cut just before frying as they oxidize.
  6. Remove in a colander or on kitchen paper.  Continue
    with the zucchini and fry them on both sides.
  7. There will be some leftover olive oil so remove it in a metallic bowl and leave just about 1 tbsp olive oil in the frying pan.
  8. Fry the eggplants on one side, brush them on top with a little bit more olive oil and fry them on the other side as well.  Continue with the remaining eggplants adding a tablespoon olive oil each time and brushing them before turning them over.

Preparethe Béchamel sauce:

  1. Peel, wash and cut potatoes into smaller pieces.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and then simmer until the potatoes are soft.
  2. Reserve 5 cups of the boiling potato water and then drain.
  3. In a food processor add the almonds, garlic, olive oil and
    vinegar and mix until they are pureed, adding a few tablespoons of the potato water, if necessary. 
  4. In a separate saucepan prepare the roux. Heat the olive oil
    over medium heat and mix in the flour, the salt, the pepper and the nutmeg and keep mixing until the flour starts roasting and turns into a light brown colour. 
  5. Add the potato water gradually and mix to get a thick sauce. (There might be some leftover water}. Add the hot potatoes and with a hand mixer, puree them in the roux (or you can do this separately and combine).  
  6. Add the puréed almonds and mix. Taste and add more salt if necessary.

Assemblingthe dish:

  1. Place a layer of half of the vegetables, in a 32 x 23 x 6 cm (12.5 x 9 x 2.3 inch) baking tin and season with salt. 
  2. Mix in a couple of tablespoons béchamel in the vegetable sauce.
  3. Add the vegetable sauce on top of the vegetables, then the remaining vegetables, which again season with salt.
  4. Add the béchamel sauce on top and sprinkle some cinnamon on top.
  5. Bake in a preheated oven to 180o C /350oF (160οC / 320oF for a convection oven) and bake for about 45 - 50 minutes or until golden on top.
  6. Set aside to cool before serving.

Notes

Roux (pr. Rou)is the method of cooking any kind of fat with flour and is the base of makingsauces and gravies, or thickening soups and stews.  The mixture is stirred in the hot oil untilthe flour is incorporated, and then cooked until the flour starts changingcolour to a darker shade.



Nutrition Information
Yield 8 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 765Total Fat 37gSaturated Fat 5gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 30gCholesterol 0mgSodium 1864mgCarbohydrates 104gFiber 19gSugar 19gProtein 15g

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Cakelaw

Thursday 26th of March 2009

I love moussakas (called moussaka by Aussies!), and your vegan version looks wonderful. So, when am I coming to dinner ;)

Peter

Wednesday 25th of March 2009

The mushrooms are nice addition...makes the dish "meatier" if you will.

Reeni

Tuesday 24th of March 2009

This looks wonderful, Ivy! I have never tried this before and you've inspired me!

Bunny

Tuesday 24th of March 2009

Your vegan bechemel sauce has opened up a whole new way of cooking hasn't it Ivy! This is terrific!

Peter G

Tuesday 24th of March 2009

Glad to see you worked out the comments thing Ivy! A wonderful, hearty version of Moussakas! Delicious!

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