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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Vegan Moussaka

Vegan Moussaka
Prep Time 30 minutes, Bake Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Serves 8

If there were ever a perfect vegan entrée, moussaka has to be it. This recipe has dropped the Gruyere cheese and eggs in the Béchamel sauce and the Parmesan cheese in the topping along with any beef or lamb of course. The creaminess and the spices are silk and sass in the mouth.

So I made this last night, and I had to use my "Jackie Magic" as Bruce puts it. The Béchamel sauce was going south fast (very bland), so after I put it on the casserole. I jazzed it up! Everything that has stars next to it is how I improvised the dish.

Here's what you do:

Ingredient List
1 medium eggplant
**2 medium zucchinis (I used half a zucchini and half a yellow squash-sliced)
1/4 cup olive oil
**1 large onion, chopped (I used 1/4 of what it called for)
4 garlic cloves, sliced
**28-oz. can crushed peeled tomatoes (I sliced 3 1/2 tomatoes, I ran out-really needed 5 thinly sliced and left the skin on)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
**1 large baking potato (I used a sweet potato-peeled and sliced)
1 tablespoon olive oil for drizzling on top
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish

1) Preheat the oven to 375°F.

2) Cut the eggplant lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices. Salt the slices and let them "sweat" for 10 minutes. You 'sweat' the egg plant by gently salting the eggplant slices and letting them sit in a colander in the sink or on a tray for 30 minutes, then wash the salt off. This pulls out the bitterness.

3) Cut the zucchini lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices, and set aside.

4) Heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a saucepan and sauté the onion and garlic until the onion is transparent and lightly browned. Add the crushed tomatoes, oregano, cinnamon, allspice, salt, and pepper. Simmer 5 to 10 minutes.

5) Lightly oil the bottom of a 13x9x2-inch baking dish. Peel the potato and cut it lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices. Layer the potato slices in the bottom of a baking dish, and spoon one-third of the tomato sauce over them. Then layer eggplant, one-third of tomato sauce, **zucchini and squash slices, and finally the rest of the tomato sauce. Drizzle the top with olive oil.

6) **Cover with a baking dish lid or foil (I didn't cover) and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

7) **Remove from the oven and remove the cover. Ladle Vegan Béchamel Sauce over the casserole and put back in the oven to bake for another 20 to 30 minutes, until the top is nicely browned. Let sit a half hour before cutting and serving. Garnish each serving with lots of chopped fresh parsley. (after about 30-40 minutes of the casserole baking, I put the sauce on. I drizzled about 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil, added more nutmeg about 1 teaspoon, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamamon, and 1/2 teaspoon of allspice-all 3 ingredients sprinkled on top of the dish)

Vegan Béchamel Sauce
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup unbleached flour
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
**2 cups soy milk (I used hemp milk)
1 tablespoon cornstarch diluted in 1/2 cup water (this helped to make the sauce bland and thick, next time I'll use 1 teasoon.)
**1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (I used 1 teaspoon.)

Vegan Béchamel Sauce
1) Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and sprinkle in flour and nutmeg, stirring constantly until lightly browned and a nutty aroma arises. Whisk in the soy milk, cornstarch mixture, and salt, stirring until the mixture begins to boil; then reduce the heat and whisk until thickened. This Béchamel Sauce makes a good topping for all sorts of steamed veggies.

Wine Pairings
A big Chardonnay, a Viognier or a Pinot gris would complement this entrée quite well.

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