Tuesday, October 11, 2011

It's Vegan Y'all/Shirley's Moussaka

Let me confess at the start: I didn't expect to like this recipe. I vaguely remembered moussaka pre-1974, and I didn't think potatoes would work in it. So, I postponed trying this recipe. And I waited too late. Now I can't ask Shirley about a few things in this recipe.

But, oh my gosh, my friends who still eat dead animals LOVED this recipe. I cooked it one day and served it the next so that all the flavors intensified.




Shirley writes, "Moussaka is a Greek signature dish with many variations.  Typically ground lamb, eggs and cheese are used.  This recipe calls for veggie ground beef but it can just left out entirely, if desired.  While potatoes were not used originally the potatoes in this recipe make it really good but you could use zucchini instead or in addition.  Even people who think they don’t like eggplant will like this recipe.  

"If you do not a have a Vitamix or other high-powered blender, you will need to soak the cashews for an hour or up to overnight before blending.  

"Read these directions through before starting."

Shirley advises to allow time for salting eggplants slices.  But then she says, "This is not an absolutely necessary step but is recommended to take bitterness out of eggplants." I hate salting eggplants and I didn't do it. 

Note that she calls for 3 medium to large eggplants. I had two large eggplants and there is no way my casserole dish would have held anything else! This is something I would have asked her about. The other thing I changed was that I used a pound of mushrooms instead of half of a pound.

The seasonings are wonderful!

Greek Moussaka
Serves 8-10


salt and olive oil
3   medium to large eggplants, stem end cut off and sliced lengthwise into 1/2-inch
6 - 8 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch slices
1  tablespoon extra olive oil
1   cup chopped onion
1   medium red bell pepper, chopped
8-oz. package mushrooms, chopped or quartered 
1   14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
2   tablespoons tomato paste
1   package ground beef style veggie meat, optional (Boca crumbles, Yves, Light Life)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley 
1   teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon salt - or to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon each: cinnamon  and nutmeg

Béchamel Sauce:
1/2 cup raw cashews
2 & 1/2 cups water
2  tablespoons cornstarch
1  teaspoon onion powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper

1.  Sprinkle salt on eggplant slices and allow to sit for 30 minutes to an hour in a colander, then rinse and pat dry. Or ignore this step.

2.   Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Place eggplant and potato slices on an sprayed baking sheet and brush them with oil.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.  You will probably have to use two baking sheets. (Note--it took four baking sheets for both potatoes and eggplants!)

3.  While eggplants are roasting, sauté onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms in olive oil over medium high heat for about 5 minutes or so.

4.  Stir in tomatoes and tomato paste until mixed.  Add veggie ground beef and parsley, cumin, salt and pepper and cinnamon and nutmeg. 

5.  Spray the bottom of a 9-inch by 13-inch baking pan with non-stick spray.   Add a layer of eggplant slices, then a layer of potato slices.  Add veggie ground beef mixture then cover with potato slices, then the rest of the eggplant slices.

6.  Make Béchamel Sauce:  Blend Béchamel ingredients together and bring to a low boil, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens. (Note: you don't have to do this over low heat, which can take a long time.) Pour sauce over eggplant.

7.  Bake at 350 degrees F. for about 30 to 35 minutes.  Allow to stand for 10 minutes before serving.  Leftovers are good the next day.

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