Being vegetarian is usually not an issue for me, especially since I’m technically only semi-vegetarian and will (happily) eat seafood. Inevitably though, one is bound to come across a situation where a vegetarian dish may not be so easy to come by. Enter a Christmas party while I was home over the holidays. Thankfully, my mom knew this and tried to fix the situation beforehand. I say tried because our initial conversation went something like this:
Mom: “I have to think of something to make that you’ll eat for dad’s family get-together.” (They usually just do ham sandwiches. Gourmet, I know).
Me: “I’ll figure something out. I’ll just throw together a big salad for myself or something.”
Mom: “I know! I have some chicken breasts in the freezer that I’ll take out.”
Me: (blank stare) “Uhhh…”
Mom: “Oh. Yah. I’ll make the vegetarian moussaka [my co-worker] talked about the other day.”
Thank you, mom, for redeeming yourself. It’s the thought that counts. And yes, I did feel like I was in the scene of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.”
I bring you vegetarian moussaka. Yes, it is in the picture above. No, that’s not ground beef you see. They are Boca’s ‘veggie ground crumbles.’ I usually try to avoid the fake meats but it wasn’t that bad and I’d use them again.
What will you need?
- Eggplant (1)
- Ground veggie crumbles (or something similar. or ground beef if you’re not vegetarian)
- Diced (or crushed) tomatoes (1 can)
- Zucchini (1)
- Olive Oil
- Crushed red pepper flakes
- Egg yolk
- Parmesan cheese
What you do with all of those ingredients…
- Start off by peeling the eggplant and slicing it (quarter- to half-inch thick slices, or so).
- Layer the eggplant slices on a baking sheet and top with some olive oil, a little parsley, and salt. Put them in a 350 degree oven for about 30-40 minutes, so they soften a little.
- While the eggplant slices are in the oven, start by shredding/grating the zucchini.
- Add olive oil and garlic (chopped, minced, however you like it) to a sauté pan (med-hi heat), followed by veggie crumbles. I added my crumbles while they were still frozen, it may help if they are thawed a little or at least broken up (and not one solid chunk).
- Add grated zucchini and can of diced tomatoes to veggie crumbles mix, as well as spices (a pinch of each should be fine).
- My mom’s directions (for spices) listed the ones in the ingredient list. I used what I had on hand – cinnamon, coriander, cumin, crushed red pepper flakes, oregano. Use whatever sounds good to you.
- Let it all simmer/cook together for a little. Add a handful or two of chopped parsley towards the end.
- By now, the eggplant should be done. Layer the eggplant slices and cover the bottom of a 13×9 glass baking dish. Or a smaller glass dish (I used a smaller one).
- On top of the eggplant, spread the veggie crumble mix. Topping this will be a béchamel sauce…
- …which you will now make. (Note: if you want a thicker layer of béchamel, use more butter/flour/milk than I list). Melt about 2 Tablespoons butter in a pan. Once melted add about 2 T flour and mix together. Mixture should not be too liquidy but not completely solid.
- Add about a cup of milk and stir until it begins to thicken (you do not have to stir it constantly). Once it is creamy thickness/texture, remove from heat and about 1/2 cup parmesan cheese. Mix.
- Pour the béchamel sauce over eggplant and veggie crumbs in pan.
- Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until it’s a nice golden brown on top.