My take on a vegetarian moussaka

Those who have seen “My big fat Greek wedding” might remember the scene when the other kids in school mock Nia Vardalos’ lunch calling it “Mous-ka-ka”. I thought it was hilariously cruel (it’s easy to make me laugh at silly things shall we say). So I decide to run around the house on evening announcing that I was going to make a Vegetarian mous-ka-ka and my partner looked at me like I’d lost it. Clearly, he hasn’t watched the movie.

This Greek dish has forever eluded me as I can’t say I’ve come across any restaurant posing a vegetarian moussaka.So I decided to take matters into my own hands and create one for dinner. First stop – the interwebs. Thanks to my fellow wordpress-ers  or wordpress-ites, I found some rather good recipes. My recipe is mainly inspired by the following two recipes http://www.culinaryadventuresinthekitchen.com/2012/02/08/785/ and http://oolongrouge.wordpress.com/2012/03/04/my-big-fat-vegetarian-moussaka/. I’d made pizza for dinner the day before mousakka Sunday so I decided to salvage some of the leftover vegetables into the dish.

Hope you like it!

Vegetarian moussaka

Ingredients (serves 4 or 2 people for dinner and lunch the next day):

1 large eggplant/aubergine, sliced into 0.5cm thick discs (Picture 11)

1 large zucchini/courgette, sliced length-wise into 0.5 cm thick slices (Picture 10)

1 large red onion, thinly sliced (Picture 1)

1 large jacket potato – peeled and sliced into 0.5 cm thick slices (Picture 9)

6 medium brown mushrooms, finely diced (Picture 2)

1 can of black cooked chickpeas (Picture 4- or any other lentils that you like)

1 can of chopped Italian tomatoes (Picture 6 – 400gms)

2 medium cloves of garlic, finely chopped (picture 2)

80-100gms of crumbled feta cheese

2 small sprigs of fresh rosemary (optional)

A few sprigs of fresh thyme (optional)

3 eggs

1 cup of milk

1/2 cup of yoghurt

2-3 tablespoons of vegetable oil/light olive oil

salt to suit your taste

For the side salad:

10 cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 yellow pepper/capsicum, thinly sliced

Generous handful of rocket leaves

Juice of half a large lemon

1 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper

2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil

Method :

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a shallow frying and sauté the onions for 3-5 minutes until translucent (Picture 1).

2. Add the garlic and rosemary and sauté for a minute or until the raw smell of the garlic no longer lingers.

3. Add the chopped mushrooms to the frying pan and cook until the liquid is absorbed into the mixture (Picture 3).

4. Strain the can of chickpeas using a sieve and run cold water over them to remove excess salt.

5. Add the washed chickpeas to the frying pan and mix them into the onions and mushrooms (Pictures 4&5).

6. Finally, add the can of tinned tomatoes, salt and cook until the mixture is reduced to a thick sauce (Pictures 6,7 & 8). Set aside to cool.

7. Place the sliced potatoes in a bowl (use one bigger than mine), sprinkle water on them and microwave for two burst of 3 minutes each. The potatoes should be mostly cooked and break when you put a fork through them. If not, put it back in the microwave for 1-2 more minutes. I noticed that the top slice got really dry and was uncooked whereas the ones down the bottom were well cooked. Use a larger bowl to fit all the potatoes in and the outcome might be better. Alternatively, cook them in a pot of water on the stove (Picture 9).

8. Grill the sliced zucchini and aubergine on a griddle pan using 1/2 tablespoon of oil with each batch (Pictures 10-13). Set aside to cool.

9. Whisk the eggs, yoghurt and milk together into a smooth liquid (Picture 14).

10. To assemble the moussaka

a. Spread half the tomato-lentil sauce on the bottom of a medium-sized, heat-proof bowl (Picture 15).

b. Layer the grilled eggplant/aubergine onto the sauce (Picture 16).

c. Layer the grilled zucchini/courgette on top of the eggplant (Picture 17).

d. Add the remaining tomato-lentil sauce to the top of the zucchini layer (Picture 18).

e. Arrange the cooked potatoes on top of the tomato-lentil layer (Picture 19).

f. Sprinkle the crumbled feta over and grind some black pepper onto it (optional – Picture 20).

g. Sprinkle the fresh thyme over the potatoes and feta (Picture 21).

h. Pour the eggy-milky mixture over the assembly (Picture 22). Make sure you don’t go crazy like me and have it overflow all over the table.

11.  Bake for an hour or until the top has gone brown (Picture 23)

12. To make the salad, add all the ingredients to a bowl with a lid. Close the lid and give it a good shake (Picture 24).

13. Serve 1/4 or of the dish (or any size you want) while still hot with the salad for a hearty lunch/dinner.

Pictures:

Steps to a vegetarian moussaka

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