Growing up moussaka was probably one of my least favorite dishes. Somehow, layers of potato and ground meat, cooked in rich Béchamel-type of sauce just did not work for me. The version that used zucchini instead of potatoes worked a little bit better, especially when paired up with plain yogurt, but even then the dish was too bland yet to heavy for me.
I decided to give the moussaka of my youth a vegan make-over and I’m happy to report that veganizing this traditional recipe worked! I used rainbow carrots, yellow onion, celery, vegan ground “beef”, all the zucchini ends that are not quite right shape or size to make good layers, and a generous amount of tomato paste for my stuffing.
For Béchamel sauce, which usually uses flour, butter and milk, I used almond milk, nutritional yeast and corn starch to make the sauce vegan and gluten free. My moussaka starts with a well oiled deep baking dish, a layer of zucchini slices, stuffing, another layer of zucchini slices and finishes with the vegan Béchamel sauce.
The assembled moussaka goes into the oven to cook covered for 30 minutes and uncovered for another 15 minutes. The vegan Béchamel sauce gives this dish great thickness and richness, without making the moussaka heavy. Your taste buds and your tummy will thank you for taking it lightly!
Vegan Zucchini Moussaka
What you’ll need:
4 rainbow carrots, diced
6 stalks celery, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
1 cup of vegan ground “beef”, store bought or homemade
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 cups unsweetened, plain almond milk
3 tablespoons corn starch
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
What you’ll do:
- Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C).
- Spray the bottom and sides of your 13 x 9 in (33 x 23 cm) baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
- Wash and slice zucchini lengthwise to make 16 to 18 slices that are about 1/4 in (6 mm) thickness. Don’t throw out the left over and edge pieces – dice them to medium size dice and put them in a large mixing bowl.
- Add diced onions, carrots and celery to the mixing bowl, as well as vegan ground “beef”, tomato paste, and smoked paprika. Mix well.
- Line the bottom of the baking dish with zucchini slices. Pour the filling into the dish. Top with another layer of zucchini slices.
- Separately, mix the almond milk, corn starch and nutritional yeast together. Make sure the mix is smooth and lump free. Pour over the moussaka.
- Cover the moussaka with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for additional 15 – 20 minutes, until the top is nicely browned.
- Take out the oven and let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.
Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017
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