Moussaka is the classic Greek dish made by layering eggplant (and/or potato and/or zucchini) with a spiced meat filling (usually lamb), topped off with a rich and creamy béchamel sauce and baked until golden brown.
As you can imagine, this traditional dish is very rich, filling and satisfying. However it contains a lot of fat, in particular saturated fat (from the meat, cheese and butter), which is the type that clogs up your arteries and increases your risk of diabetes and cancer. Ewww!
So I thought I would try making a healthier version for this weeks MFM (Meat Free Monday).
First step – replace the meat with a vegetarian protein source.
Puy lentils, so named after the Le Puy region in France where they were first cultivated (they are now grown here in Australia), are a little slate-green lentil with blue marbling (see photo below). They hold their shape when they are cooked, so are a good textural substitute for meat. They are rich in protein, a low GI carbohydrate source and pretty much fat free.
To replace the béchamel sauce, which is very high in fat due to all the butter and cheese in it, I used a very quick option of Greek yoghurt mixed with an egg. Some grated parmesan on the top helped it bake to a beautiful golden brown colour.
I salted the eggplant as this is supposed to get rid of any bitterness, however I am yet to eat a bitter eggplant! But I do find that you need less oil when you cook them after soaking them. Normally the eggplant slices in a traditional moussaka would be shallow fried, and they can soak up the oil like a sponge. To reduce the oil used to cook the eggplant, I brushed them with a little olive oil and baked them in the oven instead. They came out lovely and soft, and a beautiful golden colour. Perfect!
The result was a really filling, satisfying, tasty moussaka that was not missing a thing! YUM!
- 1 large or 2 medium eggplants (approx 380g), sliced about 3mm thick
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, plus 2 teaspoons extra
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- ½ cup red wine
- 1 large zucchini (140g), finely chopped
- 180g (1½ cups) of pumpkin, finely chopped
- 1½ x 400g cans of chopped tomatoes
- ½ cup dry puy lentils*
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 2 teaspoons vegetable stock powder (I use Massel)
- 240g (1 cup) Greek yoghurt*
- 1 egg*
- 2 tablespoons fresh parmesan cheese, grated*
- *see below recipe for vegan alternative
- You will need a 4-6 cup casserole or baking dish, preferably ceramic, to bake the moussaka in
- Sprinkle eggplant slices with salt. Sit in a colander for 30 minutes, then wash well to rinse off the salt
- Meanwhile, make the sauce:
- Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. When hot, add onion and olive oil and sauté the onion until browned
- Add garlic and sauté for 2 minutes
- Add tomato paste and cook for 2-3 minutes
- Deglaze pan with red wine (allow wine to bubble until the alcohol evaporates), then add zucchini and pumpkin
- Finally add the tomatoes and rinse out the empty tomato tin with about 1 cup of water; then add the lentils, oregano, cinnamon, allspice and stock.
- Bring to the boil, then simmer over medium-low heat, covered, for about 40 minutes until the lentils are cooked
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Line a baking tray with greaseproof baking paper
- While the lentils are still cooking, rinse off the eggplant, brush with extra olive oil and bake in the oven for 15 minutes until lightly browned
- In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the egg and yoghurt (yoghurt sauce) and set aside
- Cover the base of a casserole dish with a third of the cooked eggplant
- Spoon half of the lentil sauce over the eggplant, then cover with another third of the eggplant
- Add another layer of lentil sauce and cover with the final third of the eggplant
- Spread the yoghurt sauce evenly over the final eggplant layer to cover completely and sprinkle parmesan cheese over the top
- Bake in oven for about 30 minutes, until the top has turned golden brown (if it starts to brown early, turn the oven temperature down)
- Allow to sit for about 10 minutes before slicing
- Serve with salad or steamed greens
Make a bechamel from plant based milk, cornflour and nutritional yeast
Use this as the topping in place of yoghurt/egg combo
Crumble plant based feta or other cheese over the top before baking
Per Serve: 1332kJ or 317 calories; P 21g Fat 11g SFat 3.5g CHO 25g Fibre 10g