This is adapted from a Greek recipe that has meat and cheese in it. I used to use store-bought burger crumbles for the meat, but I wanted to make a version without the heavily processed ingredients. I was going to experiment with a mixture of lentils and mushrooms for the burger crumbles and then I saw the cauliflower and walnut "meat" that Ricki made on Diet Dessert and Dogs for her lasagna recipe. This meat stand-in is quite ingenious: it looks like burger and adds a rich umami flavor to your casserole. It was delicious plain right out of the oven, which is always a good sign. I will definitely be using this again. Next step will be to replace the soy cream cheese with something whole and less processed - cashew nuts, maybe.
This moussaka has quite a few steps to it, but after the work you will be rewarded with melt-in-your-mouth comfort food. It will be worth the effort, I promise.
Any of the components - roasted eggplant slices, tomato sauce, burger crumbles, and white sauce - can be made ahead of time and refrigerated for up to a day. The burger crumbles can also be frozen, as can the completed moussaka.
1 large eggplant, about 1-1/3 pounds
1 small yellow onion, minced, about 1 cup
1 clove garlic, minced
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/3 cup white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
1/4 teaspoon salt
Scant 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Scant 1/4 teaspoon allspice
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups Cauliflower-walnut burger crumbles (see below)
3 tablespoons Earth Balance margarine
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup soy milk
1/3 cup white wine (more Pinot Grigio)
1/4 cup Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese (or other vegan cream cheese)
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch of salt
3 tablespoons bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 400 F. Slice eggplant in 1/4-inch slices. Brush a large baking pan with olive oil and add the eggplant slices in a single layer. Brush the tops of the eggplant slices lightly with olive oil. Bake for 10 minutes. Test the slices for tenderness by piercing the center with a fork; remove the very tender slices to a plate. Turn over the remaining slices and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes until fork-tender. Set aside.
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet. Sauté the onion until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a minute. Add canned tomatoes, tomato paste, wine, salt, cinnamon, allspice and pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until sauce thickens.
Oil a large casserole. Reserve 6 large eggplant slices to top the moussaka. Spread about 1/4 cup tomato sauce in the bottom of the casserole. Top with 1 cup of burger crumbles and half the remaining tomato sauce. Distribute the non-reserved eggplant slices on top. Repeat with the remaining burger crumbles, tomato sauce and six reserved eggplant slices.
Heat oven to 350 F. Melt margarine in a saucepan. Stir in the flour and cook for a minute. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the soy milk until well blended. Put the pan back on the burner and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until sauce thickens. Add wine, cream cheese, nutmeg and salt and stir until cheese melts. Spoon the sauce on top of the moussaka and top with the bread crumbs. Bake for 40 minutes until dish is bubbly.
Cauliflower-Walnut Burger Crumbles
Adapted from Diet Dessert and Dogs. My version makes more than the original because I had a big cauliflower.
1 head cauliflower, trimmed into florets, about 1-1/3 pounds after trimming
2-2/3 cups walnuts (I used 2 cups walnuts and the rest sunflower seeds
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sage
1/4 teaspoon thyme
2-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2-1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
Preheat oven to 350 F. Oil a large jelly-roll pan or baking sheet with sides.
Use a food processor to mince the cauliflower, nuts and garlic. Transfer to a large bowl. Stir in paprika, salt, sage, thyme, olive oil and soy sauce. Spread mixture evenly on the pan. (This is easiest using two forks held in both hands upside-down.)
Bake for 30 minutes, then turn mixture over using a spatula and spread back out evenly. Bake for another 15 minutes and turn. Continue baking and turning each 15 minutes until mixture is evenly brown and mostly dry (this took me an hour total). Be careful not to over cook.
Makes about 4 cups.