The perfected recipe for this vegan Moussaka took weeks to perfect! The layers of roasted eggplant blend perfectly with the hearty lentil tomato filling. It is then topped with amazing roasted garlic and cashew Bechamel.
Ten ingredients are all you need to make this dish. We’ll show you exactly how to make it!
Origins of Moussaka
Moussaka, a dish popular in Greece and elsewhere, is an excellent choice. The word is typically made of layers of eggplant, ground meat, and Bechamel. There are also regional variations with different ingredients.
It’s not known where Moussaka originated, but it is believed to have Arab origins and was possibly inspired by a Levantine recipe called Mishkan. It is thought that Greek chef Nikolas Tselementes made the addition of French bechamel during the early 1900s.
How to make vegan Moussaka
This vegan Moussaka is made up of three layers.
We sprinkle the eggplant with salt generously and let it sit in a bowl or colander before roasting. It helps to draw out moisture, so the eggplant is fork-tender and has sweet caramelized edges after roasting.
Start by sautéing the onion and garlic. The lentils and tomato are then added, along with oregano and optional nutmeg.
Roasted garlic bechamel is the star. Roasting the garlic transforms it from an intense and sharp flavor to a mild, sweet one. Blended with cashews and olive oil along with nutritional yeast, water, salt, and nutritional yeast, it makes a delicious, creamy sauce.
It’s now time to put the layers together. The filling of lentil tomato is placed between two slices of roasted aubergine and then topped with Bechamel. The top of the dish becomes slightly caramelized and golden after baking. Swoon!
ROTATED GARLIC (for Bechamel)
- One head of garlic, average size
- 1 tsp olive oil
- Small to medium eggplant
- Salt 2 tablespoons (for sweating eggplant)
- 2 tbsp of olive oil
- 1 cup raw cashews, soaked
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- Add more nutritional yeast to taste.
- Add more salt to taste. 1/4 teaspoon sea salt is a good starting point.
- 3/4 cup of water
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg (optional)
- If oil is not available, substitute twice as much water or vegetable broth.
- Chop 1 cup of white or yellow onions
- Three cloves garlic, minced
- Can of green or brown lentils (15 oz), rinsed and drained (1 can yield about 1 1/2 cups cooked).
- Can of crushed tomatoes (15 oz.)
- Add more salt and pepper to taste. 1/4 teaspoon each of sea salt and pepper
- Oregano dried (or fresh oregano): 1 tsp
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg (optional)
- Begin by soaking the cashews for 30 minutes in hot water. While you wait, continue with the next step.
- ROASTED GARLIC: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (204 C). Cut off the top of the garlic head and place it on a sheet of aluminum foil. Wrap the lid in foil and drizzle with oil. Roast directly on the center oven rack between 50 minutes and 1 hour or until the cloves become tender, fragrant, and golden.
- EGGPLANT Slice eggplant vertically 1/4 inch thick. Salt the slices on both ends and place them in a colander over a bowl of water or in a sink to catch any moisture. Rest for 30 minutes. This will draw out moisture and reduce bitterness. After 30 minutes of resting, rinse the food and then press it between two clean towels to dry.
- Transfer the mixture to two large baking sheets that have been lined with parchment paper. Brush both sides of the pan with olive oil. Bake at 400 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden brown.
- BECHAMEL: Drain the cashews, then add them to a blender with the roasted garlic cloves (cool down a little, then squeeze from the bottom up to the top of the blender to remove the cloves), nutritional yeast, olive oil, salt, water, and optional nutmeg. Blend until smooth and creamy.
- Add more salt if you like it or nutritional yeast if you want a cheesy taste. Set aside.
- LENTIL FILM: Heat a large skillet on medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onions and cook until they are golden brown. Stir occasionally.
- Stirring occasionally, add garlic, and continue to sauté for another 3-4 minutes. If browning is occurring too quickly, reduce heat.
- Add crushed tomatoes and lentils. Add salt, pepper, oregano, and nutmeg, if desired. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. (If splattering occurs, reduce heat and cover the lid with a crack, but do not close completely to let steam escape). Season to taste and adjust as necessary, adding oregano if you want an herbal note, nutmeg if you like a nuttiness, or salt or pepper according to your preference.
- ASSEMBLY: Add 1/3 of the eggplant (overlapping slightly if necessary) to an 8×8-inch dish. Then, top it with 1/2 of the lentil mixture. Spread evenly. Add another third of the eggplant. Add the remaining lentil mix and then top with the remaining third of the eggplant. Pour the Bechamel over and smooth it into an even layer.
- Bake at 400F for 25-30 mins, or until edges are bubbling and the top looks slightly dried and golden brown.
- Allow to cool for 10 mins before serving. Cooled leftovers can be stored in the fridge for 3-4 days or the freezer for one month.