Tasty, easy and bringing back holiday memories, this vegetarian moussaka is a delicious main meal. It's got a beautiful lightly spiced filling and a comforting cheesy topping that makes it perfect for a healthy but hearty dinner.
I'm challenging myself to make a dish inspired by Masterchef every week. This week I've made my very first vegetarian moussaka. Now, when I was growing up my mum's cooking was very good but there was one dish I hated. It was of course her moussaka. It wasn't a vegetarian one but the reason I hated it so much was that it seemed to be full of potatoes. Not lovely soft potatoes but slightly hard and undercooked! No wonder I thought I hated moussaka.
I avoided eating it for years until I was on holiday in Cyprus a few years ago. Soon I discovered that not only did I like moussaka, but that it was up there with my favourite recipes! I love a delicious cheesy topping and this one is super easy to make. The beaten egg and yogurt give it a light bouncy consistency that would even make a great lasagne topping. It's so easy that there really is no need to take a shortcut and buy a ready-made cheesy sauce.
Even though I've never been to Greece itself and haven't eaten a lot of Greek food, the moussaka filling tasted very Greek to me. I loved the combination of the warming spices along with the herbs. This vegetarian lentil moussaka is definitely a comfort food meal.
The Masterchef Inspireation for this Vegetarian Moussaka
Now, as I said earlier, I initially made this recipe as part of my Inspired by Masterchef series. If you think I'm taking the easy route with this challenge then I can quite see where you're coming from. This vegetarian moussaka and the salmon en croute I previously made were inspired by one of the canteen style tasks, not by fine dining. Well, the salmon could certainly be fine dining, but moussaka is very rarely in that category. It would have to be presented much more daintily than this to have a chance.
Even so, it was a canteen task after all, and I think this vegetarian moussaka recipe would go down very well on a canteen menu. I would happily choose it anyway. In fact, I would rather eat something like this than some of the more fancy dishes and I'm a little scared that one week soon there will be nothing I actually want to make. Never mind, I'll worry about that when it happens.
Does Moussaka have to have potatoes in?
Some moussakas have potatoes, some lentils and some neither. So no you don't need to include potatoes in a moussaka. I decided to add a few to make it a complete meal. However, if I was making it again, I might miss them out as I didn't think they added a lot in terms of taste.
How else can you adapt this vegetarian moussaka?
You can adapt the filling and use a different combination of vegetables in it. How about adding some courgette (zucchini)? You could even add some grated carrot or leeks.
You do need the aubergine though. Those slices of soft roasted aubergine soak up the delicious flavours in the sauce and are super yummy.
I used dried herbs for convenience but if you have fresh herbs then feel free to use them!
If you really don't have time then don't feel guilty about using a ready made cheesy sauce. Alternatively if you have your own cheesy sauce recipe that you absolutely love then again, feel free to use it.
Masterchef Vegetarian Moussaka Recipe
- 70 g green lentils
- 1 large aubergine Cut into 1cm thick slices
- 2 tsp oil
- 5 new potatoes
- 1 tbsp oil
- 2 bell peppers any colour is fine, sliced
- 1 onion sliced
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- 800 g tinned chopped tomatoes
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tbsp fresh mint chopped
- Pinch salt
- Pinch black pepper
Ingredients for the Topping
- 150 g yogurt
- 1 egg
- 50 g parmesan
- Preheat the oven to 180C.
- Follow the instructions on the pack for preparing the lentils and cook until soft and just beginning to split.
- Slice the aubergine so the slices are about 1cm thick. Drizzle with oil and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes, turning over halfway through.
- Parboil the potatoes for 10 minutes. Slice them after they have been cooked.
- Put a little oil in a saucepan and fry the onion over a low heat until softened. Add the green pepper, herbs, spices, garlic, tomato puree and tomatoes. Continue to simmer for about 20 minutes. When the lentils are soft, stir them in too. Cook for another 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Make the sauce for the topping. Beat the egg. Add the yogurt and beat together with the egg. Add about ⅔ of the cheese.
- Assemble the moussaka. Oil an oven-proof casserole dish. Put a layer of potato and aubergine on the bottom of the dish. Put half the tomato and lentil mixture on top. Put another layer of aubergine and potato. Put the rest of the tomato mixture on top. Top with the yoghurt sauce. Sprinkle with the rest of parmesan.
- 7. Bake in the oven at about 180c for half an hour.
- 8. Serve with green salad.
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More Greek Recipes
Although I've never been to Greece I love Greek food and can definitely recommend some more recipes. If you are looking for vegetarian food then I've got a delicious fasolakia recipe which is a Greek green bean stew. I can also recommend Greek lemon chicken and a vegetarian quiche inspired by Greek flavours.
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Do let me know if you make this vegetarian moussaka. I love to get feedback from readers.
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