Meatless MoussakaJan 11th, 2013 | By Peter Minakis | Category: Cheese, Dairy, Eggplant, Eggs, Featured, Greek, Greek Wine, Herbs, Main, Onions, Potato, Sauce, Vegetarian
Ahhh Moussaka, a dish food historians can’t agree upon who it belongs to or food critics argue about who makes the best one. I can assure you Greeks love Moussaka and our version is usually made with alternating slices of eggplant, meat sauce and topped with a Bechamel sauce. Probably an equal amount of Greek families will add a layer of potato in their Moussaka and then the variations.
I once had an all zucchini version of Moussaka in Mykonos back in the early nineties and I still make this version from time to time. I also like making a Moussaka with one layer of eggplant and the other with zucchini.
Moussaka is very popular and I’m delighted when many friends tell me they love Moussaka. The Turks also make Moussaka, you will find it in the Levant, Balkans and the name Moussaka itself is Arabic. The Greek version that you and I know has received some massaging and re-tooling over time and Greek Chef Nikos Tselementes can be held largely responsible for this Moussaka shift. Cookbook author & Greek food authority Agalia Kremezi goes into detail about the origins of Moussaka, how in may have been made and how it came to be made in present day Greece.
Today, I am offering up a vegetarian version of Moussaka and one I think you’ll make, especially when you’re looking to skip another meat dish. I am not the first to offer a vegetarian version of Moussaka nor will I be the last. Some will replace the meat with peppers, mushrooms, chick peas, lentils and I’ve even used green beans.
Today I am simply using thicker slices of eggplant and zucchini and substituting the usual topping of Bechamel with a faux version made of mashed potato. You can use leftover mashed potatoes here, there’s some eggs in here to give the potato some lift, grated sharp Greek sheep’s milk cheese we call Kefalotyri and fresh grated nutmeg. The mashed potato makes this vegetarian version of Moussaka filling and you’ll be glad you skipped meat this evening.
If it were Summer I would use ripe, fresh tomatoes and use a box grater to make sauce but alas, it’s January and ripe tomatoes are a distant July memory. So, I encourage you to use a quality jarred sauce as an alternative. Today I am using a jar of Louise Prete Tomato and Basil sauce, just released for sale to the public. Prior, one could only taste this sauce by buying one of Louise Prete’s lasagnas.
2 large eggplants
3 large zucchini
sea salt and black pepper
approx. 1 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion
1 jar of Louise Prete tomato sauce
2 bay leaves
3-4 allspice berries
1/2 tsp. dried Greek oregano
salt and pepper to taste
4 medium-sized Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled
salt to taste
1/4 cup unsalted butter
approx. 1 cup milk
fresh grated nutmeg
1/2 cup grated Kefalotyri cheese (Pecorino Romano if you can’t find it)
1/2 cup plain yogurt (full fat)
Pre-heated 375F oven
- Cut off the stem ends of your eggplants and zucchini and cut into 1/2 inch slices. Brush both sides with olive oil and lightly season with salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes then flip the vegetables and bake for another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and place the vegetables on paper to absorb excess oil.
- To make the sauce, place a skillet on your stove and add the olive oil over medium heat and add the diced onions and sweat for 5 minutes. Now add the sauce, bay leaves, allspice plus fill the jar with hot water and pour into the skillet and bring up to boil then reduce to a simmer. Add some salt and pepper and cook for 15-20 minutes or until sauce is thick. Remove bay leaves and allspice and add the dried Greek oregano. Set aside.
- In the meantime, place your potatoes in medium pot and add some salt and cover. Bring to a boil then simmer until potatoes are fork-tender. Drain off the water, add butter and mash your potatoes then add milk while mashing. Add some salt and pepper (remember we are also going to add cheese later, so take it easy). Remove from heat, allow to cool.
- Once the mashed potato is cooled, add the cracked eggs, yogurt and whip the potatoes with a hand mixer. Now add the grated cheese and fresh grated nutmeg and mix in.
- Assemble your Moussaka by first sprinkling breadcrumbs on the bottom of a 10″ x 10″ deep baking dish. Now lay the eggplant down to cover the entire area. Now spread half the sauce over the eggplant and sprinkle more breadcrumbs over the sauce followed by a layer of zucchini slices to once again cover the entire area.
- Spread the remaining sauce over the zucchini followed by one last sprinkle of bread crumbs. Now spread the cooled mashed potato over the entire area and evenly spread with an offset spatula.
- Sprinkle some more grated Kefalotyri over the potato and place in your pre-heated 375 oven (middle rack) for 30-40 minutes or until top is just golden.
- Remove the Moussaka from your oven and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving. Pair with an En Oeno Rose from Eklekton.
*For best results, bake your Moussaka earlier in the day and allow to cool completely so you get perfect pieces. Simply reheat at 300F for 15 minutes then cut, slice and serve.
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© 2013, Peter Minakis. All rights reserved. If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at http://kalofagas.ca then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact me at truenorth67 AT gmail DOT COM. All recipes, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author.