Moussaka is an incredible dish: meaty, creamy, satisfying all while being surprisingly light. I used this recipe as a starting point, and veganizing it was no easy task as moussaka relies on the minced-meat sauce to provide most of the flavour. But I think I cracked it, thanks to the secret ingredient.
The black gold.
The holy spread.
The king of umami.
The ruler of taste.
The… okay I’ll stop now.
No you’re not dreaming, the infamous (though very much adored in my family) dark goo is what makes this dish work! Together with chanterelle fond they form the umami base for the vegan mince to absorb, hence giving the dish all of it’s meatiness. WARNING: you will be disappointed if you attempt the dish without Marmite! So definitely put in the effort to get your hands on a jar, it will come in handy for all your “meaty” dishes. I know it’s expensive, but so worth it.
If you are in Sweden, you can find Marmite at places like the english shop’s website . Otherwise, any British shop and some supermarkets do also stock them, so keep an eye out! I can’t stress it enough: even if you don’t enjoy it on toast, it’s a sauce saviour!
The other ingredient I would like to talk about is the mince. The one I use is the soy based one from the brand Naturli, available at Netto and ICA here in Sweden:
It’s quite a distinct taste by itself, but works wonderfully well as a mince replacement in dishes. And another point: It’s VERY cheap. Nothing dodgy in it, versatile, cheap. What’s not to love? Another mince that I could see working well in this dish is the anamma mince. Otherwise you could use red lentils!
Alright, enough chatting, let’s get cooking!
Ingredients (6 servings)
Meat sauce and aubergine base
- 2 large aubergines
- 400g of vegan mince/ a cup of red lentils (soaked for 1-2h prior if you want to speed up cooking time)
- 1½ onions, chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 can of chopped tomatoes
- 1 tsp of brown sugar (don’t skip this!)
- 1tsp tomato purée
- 1 cup of boiling water
- 1 heaped tbsp of Marmite (or soy sauce if you really don’t have/want to use marmite)
- 1 tbsp chantarelle or mushroom fond (if you have neither, use a cup of veggie bouillon instead of the cup of hot water + fond but don’t ditch the Marmite)
- 1 bay leaf
- half of a cinnamon stick or a tsp of cinnamon
- 100g of vegan butter
- 100g of flour
- 600+ ml of oat or rice milk
- a pinch of nutmeg
Start by pre-heating your oven to 185C, then wash and cut the aubergines into thin slices and arrange them in one layer on a lined baking tray. Drizzle lightly with oil and season with a good helping of salt. Bake in the oven until they are cooked through, flipping them half way and seasoning the other side.
Meanwhile, get started with the meat sauce by boiling the cup of water that will be used for the bouillon and by putting a large frying pan on a medium-hot stove. Heat a little oil and sauté the onion until golden, and mix the boiling water with the Marmite and chantarelle fond in a glass on the side. When the onion is golden add the garlic, tomato purée and mince and sauté for a minute. Add the Marmite/fond mix to the mince and stir with the mince until mostly evaporated. Add the can of chopped tomatoes and fill the can with water then add that water to the pan along with the cinnamon stick, sugar, bay leaf and season with salt and pepper. Leave to simmer on medium for 15 minutes using a lid, then uncover and simmer for another 15 minutes. Give it a stir from time to time.
While the sauce simmers, you can turn your attention to the béchamel: Put a medium sized pot on a hot stove and add the butter. Once melted and hot, remove from heat and add the flour all in one go, stirring continuously with a whisk. Once incorporated, return to the heat with a little bit of milk, and keep stirring. Stir in the milk little by little until you have a thick, luscious sauce then season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Leave on the side. Turn the oven up to 200C.
When the meat sauce is thick, add a little béchamel to a medium to large dish and spread it so that it covers the bottom of the dish. Place a layer of aubergines, then a layer of meat sauce, another layer of aubergines, then meat, then pour all of the béchamel on top. Season one last time with salt and pepper, and bake for 30-40min at 200C or until the top is golden.
Take out of the oven and let cool for at least 40 minutes so that the dish has a chance to set, making it wayyy easier to dish out later!
PS: I do apologise for the lack of pictures of the final dish, but the last one I made wasn’t all that pretty so I will upload a nice photo next time. Sorry!