David Frenkiel’s hearty moussaka is packed full of goodness and gorgeous texture. Make no mouss-take… it’s delicious
“I spent many summers boat-hopping around the Greek islands and vegetable moussaka was always a reliable dinner companion. This oily pasta-free Greek relative to the Italian lasagne is filled with lentils, which makes it a very nourishing dinner.
Normally the moussaka is baked with enormous amounts of cheese on top, but we skipped that and went for a vegan béchamel instead. Our version has the same richness to it and makes for a most comforting meal.”
For the layers:
• 2 aubergines, very thinly sliced
• 2 tablespoons cold-pressed olive oil
• sea salt
• 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and very thinly sliced
For the lentil and tomato sauce:
• 2 tablespoons cold-pressed olive oil or 2 tablespoons cold-pressed coconut oil
• 1 large onion, finely chopped
• 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 2 teaspoons dried oregano
• 2 tablespoons tomato puree
• 250g green lentils, preferably presoaked for 1 hour or up to 8 hours
• 600ml water
• 400g canned chopped tomatoes
• 1 teaspoon sea salt
For the vegan béchamel sauce:
• 2 tablespoons cold-pressed olive oil, plus extra for drizzling, if necessary
• 4 tablespoons chickpea flour or 4 tablespoons flour of your choice
• 2 cups unsweetened plant milk
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
• sea salt
• freshly ground pepper
• micro greens or sprouts
1 Preheat the oven to 200°C. Lay the aubergine slices on a grill rack in a baking tin and brush the tops with a very thin layer of oil. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and roast in the oven until soft and lightly browned, about 10 minutes, depending on how thinly sliced they are.
2 Place the prepared sweet potatoes in a bowl of cold water until ready for use to keep them fresh and moist.
3 Make the lentil and tomato sauce by heating the oil in a saucepan. Add the onion, garlic, cinnamon and oregano and fry until fragrant, stirring occasionally. Add the tomato purée and keep stirring until well mixed.
4 Now add the lentils, water and tomatoes. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 30–40 minutes, until the lentils are soft and the sauce is ‘dry’.
Make the béchamel sauce by heating the oil in a small saucepan over a medium-low heat. Add the flour and stir until thick and slightly browned.
5 Whisking constantly, add half the milk, whisk, add the remaining milk and whisk until smooth.
6 Add the nutmeg and season. Cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce comes to the boil and thickens.
7 Reduce the oven heat to 180°C. Arrange a third of the aubergine slices in the base of a fairly large baking dish. Top with half of the sweet potato slices and half of the lentil and tomato sauce. Repeat.
8 Finish with the remaining aubergine slices and then pour the béchamel sauce over. Bake for 35–40 minutes.
9 Test to see if the sweet potatoes are tender by inserting a sharp knife down through the centre.
10 Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 30 minutes before serving. Drizzle some olive oil over it before serving if it looks a little dry.
Recipe and image courtesy of David Frenkiel, extracted from Green Kitchen Travels.