As I have said before, I love making new recipes, especially for foods I have never tried before. This recipe would be one of those. I had a request from my McDougall friend Laura for moussaka. I had heard of it, but never made it or tried it.
I love eggplant, I love potatoes, so the two together really made sense to me. This does have a lasagna feel to it, but it really is different. I love the addition of cinnamon to the marinara sauce. It gives it a totally different taste. You can taste it, but you are flooded with other flavors, and so it isn't dominate.
Now, this recipe is a time consuming one. There is a lot of prep work. I personally don't think it was harder than making a good lasagna. And if you make this recipe, it will make a lot. So you will have leftovers.
I will break the recipe down into sections, in order of preparing the ingredients. I took lots of pictures along the way, so I hope it all makes sense.
2 large eggplants, washed
5 medium potatoes. I used regular russet potatoes, washed well
8 oz. button or cremini mushrooms, cleaned
1 quart (4 cups) your favorite marinara sauce
(Here is a recipe if you want to make mine sometime)
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup cooked white rice
2 cups chopped cauliflower
1 1/2 cup plant based milk
1/4c nutritional yeast
1 tsp. salt (optional, but I found it was needed)
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 tablespoons brown rice flour or corn starch
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
Prep work #1 (eggplants and potatoes)
Fill a very large bowl with cold water, and a good sprinkle of salt, leave in the sink.
After washing your eggplant, remove the ends, and slice in half lengthwise. Work with one eggplant at a time, so they don't turn brown.
Slice each half into half-moon shapes, about 1/3 inch thick. As you slice them, place in the bowl of water. Make sure they get submerged. This will help take the bitter flavor eggplants sometimes have, and keep them from turning brown.
Let the slices soak for about 10 minutes. While they soak, lets slice the potatoes. After washing the potatoes, slice into 1/3 inch slices.
As you slice the potatoes, put into the same water as your eggplants. This will keep the slices from turning brown. They will sink to the bottom, and the eggplants will stay on top.
After you are all done, drain the eggplants and potatoes, and rinse well.
Place the potatoes into a pot of cold water, and set on the stove. You are going to boil the potatoes until they are almost cooked all the way. About 10-12 minutes for mine. Check them often. You don't want them to cook all the way.
While they are cooking, you can start cooking your eggplant. There are a few ways you can do this. Dry fry in a large saute pan, grill on the barbecue, or if you have a stovetop grill pan like I do, use that. You want to grill all of the slices. You will have to work in batches. Have a plate close by to place them on. You want to cook for about 2 minutes on each side.
As you finish, place them on a plate and start the next set.
While you are doing that, your potatoes should be done. Drain them and run cold water over them to stop the cooking process. Then just keep them in the strainer.
When you are done with the eggplants, set the plate aside also. (prep work)
Now lets move on to making the white sauce.
In a small saucepan, add the cauliflower and enough water to cover them. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, and cover. Cook for about 8 minutes, or until very tender. Remove from heat, and drain well.
Add the cauliflower to a blender and add the milk, rice, nutritional yeast, garlic, onion and garlic powder, salt and pepper and the brown rice flour(or corn starch). Blend until very smooth. It took me about 2 minutes in my blender. Set aside. (prep work)
In another bowl, dump out the marinara sauce and add the 1 tsp. ground cinnamon. Whisk well to blend.
I told you there was a lot of prep work!! But you are almost done with it and we can assemble it all.
At this point, turn on the oven to 350*.
All you should have left is your mushrooms. Chop them up into chunks. I went pretty small, but it is your choice. I spent about a minute on it.
I used an oval baking pot for this recipe, but you could use a deep 9x9 or even a 9x13 baking pan. The smaller it is, the thicker the moussaka will be. I got 4 layers, and that was perfect.
In the bottom of your pan, put a thin layer of marinara sauce.
Add a layer of eggplant next. Don't overlap the pieces, just next to each other.
Next, put a layer of potato. Again, not a lot of overlapping, just a nice even layer.
Then add a thicker layer of marinara sauce.
Sprinkle a layer of mushrooms on top of the marinara.
Now repeat. Eggplant first, potato, marinara and mushroom.
Do this until you use all your veggies, or until you are about one to one and a half inches from the top. You should end with eggplant on top.
Next, pour the creamy sauce on top. You want it to be a thick layer. Mine was almost an inch. Sprinkle with some nutmeg, and cover with foil or however you cover your oven dishes.
Bake for 1 hour- 1 1/2 hours, depending on how thick it is. I did mine for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. If you have a 9x13, I would only cook for 1 hour.
After the time above, remove the covering, and turn on the broiler. Broil on high for about 5 minutes, watching very close. You just want to put a little color on top.
Remove from oven, and let rest for at least 15 minutes to set up. I actually let mine set for 20 minutes, and it was easier to cut and serve.
Serve with a nice salad or some green beans.
I hope you give this a try and enjoy it. It does take some prep work, but it is sure worth it!!