How can one imagine a vegan moussaka? As an expert auberginologist I can’t resist anything which contains aubergine, so I went in a journey seeking after the perfect recipe for a moussaka that will cherish the aubergine and will replace the meat and white sauce without harming its unique harmony.
For those who are not familiar with this specimen, moussaka is a layered dish of aubergines and meat, sometimes with a potato base, covered in thick white sauce which gets thick and creamy on top. I replace the meat with green lentils ragout and the white sauce with cashew cream.
1 cup green lentils
2 medium-large onions
4 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup parsley
5 mushrooms (if you can, shitake will suit best)
1/4 cup tomato puree
salt, pepper, oil, garam masala spice mixture
1 cup raw cashew, soaked in warm water for several hours
3/4 cup water
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon flour (or tapioca starch if you want it gluten free)
For The Moussaka Assembly
2 large (or 3 medium) aubergines
2 medium potatoes, boiled
2 medium tomatoes (optional)
Start with grilling the aubergines in the oven. Peel and slice to 1 cm slices. Rub with a bit of oil, sprinkle some salt and place on a pan covered in baking paper. Bake in 220 degrees for 20 minutes (or until golden) from one side, flip and bake for further 5 minutes.
Finely chop the onion, garlic and carrot, fry in some oil until golden. Add garam masala and mix well. Add the lentils and mushrooms, cover in water, bring to boil, reduce flame and cook until the lentils are soft (ca. 30 min.). When the lentils are soft and the liquids are almost completely gone, add the tomato puree and parsley, mix, cook for 3 minutes more and remove from the flame.
In a blender, grind the cashew nuts, then add the rest of the ingredients. Blend until smooth. And… you are ready for the assembly.
Take a small baking pan. I like heavy clay forms, but a metal one will do as well. First layer are slices of potato. Then, first layer of aubergine slices. Top that with a thick layer, around 3 cm of the ragout. On that lay tomato slices and a second layer of aubergines. Top with the white cream. Each layer should reach the edge of the pan.
Bake for 30 minutes in 200 degrees, until the top is firm and golden. Let cool a bit before slicing. Serve with a glass of cold ouzo.
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