Do you remember that scene in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" where Toula is a kid in the school lunch room and her classmates ask her what she's eating?
She tells them it's moussaka and they tease her shrieking "Moose kaka?!?!?". The poor kid! As a fellow Greek American, I could feeeel her embarrassment through the screen.
This dish is super popular in Greek cuisine and is typically made with ground beef, eggplant or potatoes, tomato sauce, and topped with a creamy bechamel.
As you know know, I don't eat meat and lamb doesn't cut it either *I know, I'mma bad Greek ;)* and I'm always looking for ways to sneak more nutrition into my meals without sacrificing flavor. I gotta say, I really nailed it on this one!
The cinnamon and nutmeg in the tomato sauce offers a uniquely Greek flavor profile that I'm obsessed with and reminds me of Yiayia's (greek for grandma) cooking. I swapped the beef for lentils + mushrooms so you still get that protein and meaty texture minus the saturated fat.
I'm offering a virtual cooking class where I'll teach you how to make this delicious Greek casserole on Monday 2/21 at 6pm MST live on Zoom.
It'll be lots of fun, and I promise to amp it up on the Greek culture sidenotes.
To join us, click here and book your spot!
This meal is also perfect for meal prep.
Just pop a slice in the microwave for lunch or dinner over the next 2-3 days, and serve with a side salad and/or rice for a comforting and filling meal.
Serving size: 6-8 servings
Prep time: 45 minutes | Cook time: 60 minutes | Total time: 1 hour 30 minutes
2 medium-large eggplants, sliced length-wise
1 medium-large zucchini, sliced length-wise
Lentil Mushroom Tomato sauce
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups mushrooms, chopped
1 cup cooked brown lentils, or canned, rinsed and drained (I buy the pre-steamed ones from trader joe’s to save time)
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
1 tbsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 cup plain whole milk Greek yogurt
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup feta cheese
1/4 cup unsweetened plain milk (I used almond milk)
2 large eggs
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese (optional, to make it extra cheesy)
1. *Please complete this first step just before the cooking class begins!* Spread eggplant slices on a large pan lined with paper towel and sprinkle with salt and set aside for 20 to 30 minutes. Then pat dry with paper towel
2. Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Arrange the zucchini and eggplant slices on lightly oiled baking sheets. Brush then with extra virgin olive oil. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes just until tender.
3. While that's baking, heat 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil in a large non-stick pan or cooking pot over medium heat. Sautee onions, mushrooms and garlic for 3 to 4 minutes till fragrant, tossing regularly. Stir in COOKED lentils, and crushed tomatoes. Season with a dash of kosher salt, and add oregano, nutmeg and cinnamon. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and cover only part-way. Simmer for about 10 minutes or so.
4. In your food processor or blender, combine the Greek yogurt, ricotta and feta cheeses, milk, eggs and pepper. Process on high until well blended.
5. Assemble Vegetarian Moussaka in a 9 x 13 baking dish. First, pour half of the lentil mushroom sauce on the bottom of the baking dish and spread. Layer the vegetables on top. Add the remainder of the lentil sauce. Finally, spread cheesy sauce on top, making sure to smooth it out well with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle with the grated/shredded cheese and bake your moussaka for about 45 minutes, until the top is golden brown.
6. Remove from heat and let sit for at least 10 minutes before cutting and serving to let the cheese layer set. Cut into ~12 squares. Enjoy!
If you make this recipe, please snap a photo and hashtag it #katalystliving.
Hope to see you Live as we make this feast together on Monday 2/21!