I love Greece. I have spent many glorious times there. Exploring the islands…. walking the hills … savouring the food…. soaking up the atmosphere…. and all the while; time seeming to stand still… sigh…
Before I get on to the recipe … which worked out exceptionally well btw., I thought I’d share just a few of my sketches from my old greek diaries… I remember so well hot summer afternoons, (when sensible people were having a siesta lol) ….wandering around finding shady places to sit, with a view to sketch….
The only place that provided no shade whatsoever, was the paralysingly hot bus station….where we were obliged to wait. No movement…. no sound…. just us….in the hot sun…waiting…. hoping…
Finally, out of nowhere a driver would appear and a bus would rattle noisily to life. Everyone piled on, and we took off over the hills, windows open….and the scent of thyme and rosemary coming in with the breeze…. heady days….
The driver’s cab was absolutely covered in stickers and charms …fringes and flags 🙂
The monastery sat high above the jumble of little greek streets…
Ha. Everyone exhausted on the ferry….
I sat in a small taverna…eating and watching this lady sweep up the bougainvillea petals..
So. To the Moussaka. A dish close to my heart. And surprisingly vegan friendly….
everything from scratch…
This dish has 3 component layers: aubergines, mushroom and tomato sauce and béchamel sauce.
The béchamel is thick, creamy… dairy-free and gluten-free…
The dish can be prepared in advance and chilled for a couple of hours before cooking.
- 2-3 aubergines – approx. 750gms.
- 2-3 tbs. salt
- olive oil for sautéing
Mushroom + Tomato Sauce:
- 2 tbs.olive oil
- 1 medium onion
- approx. 500gms. tomatoes
- 250gm. mushrooms
- 3 garlic cloves
- 3tbs. tomato puree
- 70 ml. red wine ( or 2-3 tbs. red wine vinegar)
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. black pepper
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 50gms. good quality vegan spread – suitable for baking (or 50ml.oilve oil)
- 50gms. chickpea flour
- 20gms. tapioca flour
- 20ml. water
- 700ml. soya milk
- 30gms. vegan cheese – parmesan if possible …or a strong hard cheese
- 1/2-1 tsp. salt
- 1/2-1 tsp. ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
- 3 tbs. nutritional yeast
- 1 tbs. nutritional yeast
- 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
- 10gms. grated vegan cheese
- handful of fresh chopped basil
- Wash and slice aubergines. Approx. 3 ml. thick.
- Lay the aubergines out on kitchen towel and sprinkle liberally with 2-3 tbs. salt.
- Leave for 30 mins. This helps reduce the bitter flavours of the aubergine.
- Wash the aubergine slices thoroughly, and remove excess water with kitchen towel.
- In a wide pan, on a medium-high heat, add 2 tbs. oilve oil.
- Saute aubergine slices in batches, 3-4 mins. each side. Add more oil as necessary.
- Place sautéed aubergines slices on kitchen towel to remove excess oil.
- Set aside.
- Cook’s note: to reduce oil, it’s possible to spray aubergine slices with oil and bake in the oven until golden.
Tomato and mushroom sauce:
- Cut a cross in the top of the tomatoes, and immerse them in just boiled water for 10 mins.
- Remove tomato skins and place the tomatoes in a blender. Blitz until smooth.
- Chop the mushrooms reasonably finely.
- Peel and finely chop the onion.
- Peel and crush garlic cloves.
- In a deep-sided pan, on a medium-high heat, add 2 tbs. oil.
- When the oil is hot, add chopped onions and sauté for 3 mins.
- Add crushed garlic. Saute 1 min.
- Add chopped mushrooms. Saute 2 mins.
- Add blitzed tomatoes, red wine (or vinegar), tomato puree, salt, pepper and cinnamon.
- Bring the sauce to a gentle boil, and then reduce heat a little and simmer, uncovered for 30-40mins. allowing the sauce to reduce considerably.
- 10 mins. before end of cooking, taste and adjust seasonings if desired.
- Cook’s note: the red wine really does add a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ to this dish …but vinegar will do the trick…
- Combine 20gms. tapioca flour with 20 ml. water. Stir to form a smooth paste. Set aside.
- Grate 30gms. vegan cheese.
- In a deep-sided pan, on a medium heat, add vegan spread (or olive oil).
- Add 50gms. chickpea flour and combine thoroughly. Cook for 3 mins. Avoid burning.
- Remove from heat, and slowly add 700ml. non-dairy milk. (I used soy).
- Stir constantly to avoid lumps forming.
- Return to the heat and bring to a gentle simmer until the sauce begins to thicken. 5mins?
- Remove from heat. Allow to cool for 3 mins.
- Add tapioca flour paste and stir vigorously.
- The sauce will thicken considerably at this point….Don’t be alarmed! Just keep stirring. 🙂
- Return the sauce to a low heat. (Whisk if necessary).
- Allow to cook gently for about 3 mins.
- Add grated cheese, 3 tbs. nutritional yeast, salt and pepper.
- Maintain a very low heat, use a heat diffuser of necessary.
- Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.
Bring everything together:
- Preheat oven to Gas Mk. 5 / 190C
- Lightly grease a ceramic or glass baking dish, approx. 30cm. x 20cm.
- Take two-thirds of the aubergine slices, and form a base layer in the dish.
- Spoon the mushroom and tomato sauce over the aubergine layer.
- Use the rest of the aubergines to create another layer over the mushroom and tomato sauce.
- Scatter a handful of chopped basil over the aubergines.
- Pour the béchamel sauce over the aubergine and basil layer.
- Scatter 10gms. grated vegan cheese, 1 tbs. nutritional yeast and 1/2 tsp. black pepper over the top.
- Place in the pre-heated oven and cook for 50-60 mins. until golden and bubbling.
- Remove from oven and leave to stand in a warm place for 5-8 mins.
Slice and serve.
Olive an Tomato Salad?
Peace in Greece