Vegetarian Moussaka with lentils is a modern twist to the traditional Moussaka, a typical dish of the Mediterranean tradition, and the most famous is undoubtedly the Greek version.
Like melanzane alla parmigiana, moussaka is prepared by alternating layers of fried or grilled aubergines, meat sauce similar to Bolognese sauce and potato slices. It is then covered with a thick layer of béchamel and cooked in the oven until golden brown.
In this vegetarian version, we replace the meat sauce with lentils prepared with classic Mediterranean aromatic herbs such as bay leaf and oregano. Vegetarian moussaka is a rich and tasty dish that is easy to prepare and develops an even more complex flavour if left to rest for a few hours before cooking in the oven so that the potatoes and aubergines will absorb the flavours from the sauce.
Serves 4 people, preparation time 20 minutes, total cooking time 1.30 hours.
For the lentil sauce
- 400gr chopped tomatoes (~1 can)
- 300g dry lentils
- 1 carrot
- ½ onion
- 1 celery
- 2 bay leaves
- oregano as needed
- ¼ glass of red wine
- salt and pepper
For the vegetable layers
- 2 aubergines cut into thin slices
- 2 potatoes cut into thin slices
- salt and pepper
- 1 egg
- 200g béchamel
1 – In a large saucepan, heat up a little olive oil and cook the celery, carrot, and onion cut into chunks (if needed, add a little water to prevent the vegetables from burning). Then add the bay leaf and lentils and mix well. When the pot is hot and the cooking liquid from the vegetables has evaporated, add some red wine, being careful not to pour it directly onto the lentils but towards the side of the pot. Let the wine cook quickly, and the alcohol evaporate.
2 – Add chopped tomato, 800ml of water (preferably hot) and the oregano. Leave to cook over medium-low heat for about 40-50 minutes or until the lentils are completely cooked.
3 – In the meantime, grill or fry the aubergine slices (if you have an air fryer, you can cook them in the basket without overlaying too many slices). Boil the potato slices in salted water for four to five minutes, drain and cover. Combine the egg with the béchamel, add some pepper and mix well.
4 – Then, put together the layers of your vegetarian moussaka. Arrange the lentil sauce first, lay the aubergines, place a layer of potatoes, and spoon in more lentil sauce. Continue like this to build about 3 or 4 layers (the number of layers will depend on the ingredients and the tray size). Complete with generous béchamel and bake at 200°C for about 30-35 minutes or until completely caramelised. Serve hot.
- If you prefer, substitute the egg in the béchamel with a little oil instead.
- Choose to cook with good quality wine, leaving an excellent aftertaste to all your dishes.
- Cooking vegetarian moussaka in individual dish is very convenient for freezing and reheating.