This hearty Vegan Moussaka consists of different layers of roasted eggplant and potatoes, a delicious and umami-packed cauliflower and walnut ragu, and a creamy vegan bechamel made with cashews.
What is Moussaka?
Moussaka is one of the most famous Greek dishes. Originally made with eggplant, tomato and meat sauce, cheese, and bechamel, this layered casserole dish is the perfect meal to enjoy on special occasions.
Our Vegan version of the traditional Greek Moussaka combines layers of roasted eggplant and potatoes with a big layer of rich tomato ragu made with cauliflower and walnuts to give the sauce a "meaty" texture. To complete our veggie Moussaka, we add a last layer of the most delicious vegan bechamel. Finishing the Moussaka in the oven gives the bechamel the perfect golden color and the right texture.
Our Moussaka is:
- A main dish
How to make Vegan Moussaka
To make the best Vegan Moussaka, you need to prepare these three elements: Roasted eggplant and potatoes, a vegan tomato ragu, and a plant-based bechamel. Once these three items are ready, all you need to do is to assemble the moussaka by creating layers in a casserole or baking dish.
Roasted Eggplant and Potatoes
The first layer we add consists of roasted potatoes and eggplant or aubergine.
To prepare this first layer, all you need to do is slice the potatoes and eggplant (vertically) into medium-sized slices (if you slice them too thin they will easily burn). Place the potatoes and aubergine slices on a big baking tray, brush gently with some olive oil, sprinkle some sea salt and bake for about 20 minutes (200C or 400F) or until golden.
Vegan Cauliflower and Walnut Ragu
If you want to make a vegetarian Moussaka, the rich tomato sauce or ragu needs to be really flavourful and quite thick. To provide this sauce with some texture and protein most people use lentils, which is a brilliant addition. At home, we prefer using a walnut and cauliflower mixture when making bolognese or ragu-style sauces.
To prepare this "meaty" mixture, cut the cauliflower into big florets and add it to a food processor. Add the walnuts and pulse a couple of times.
Transfer to a baking tray or casserole dish and add half of the spice mixture: Coriander powder, cumin powder, black pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt. Drizzle some olive oil and bake for 20 minutes stirring the mixture halfway through.
While the mixture is cooking, you can start cooking the other part of this rich vegan tomato sauce.
Using a cast-iron pot or another big pan or pot, add some olive oil and when heated, add finely chopped onion. When the onion starts to soften, add finely chopped or minced garlic, chopped mushrooms, and carrots. Stir for a couple of minutes and add the other half of the spice mixture.
When fragrant, add chopped tomatoes, oregano, and a bay leaf. Leave the sauce simmering for 15-20 minutes. If the tomatoes are a bit acidic, you can add some sweetener such as sugar, agave, or maple syrup.
When the eggplant, potatoes, and plant-based ragu are ready, you can prepare the bechamel.
To make the vegan bechamel, we use cashews. We love how creamy this nut can go when you hydrate them for long enough. As well, they add protein to your dish. For this plant-based bechamel, you need cashews, water, margarine or vegan butter, yeast flakes (optional), and flour.
Leave the cashews soaking in warm water for at least 30 minutes. You can as well, leave them soaking overnight in room-temperature water.
Once the cashews have been soaking for long enough, rinse them and add them to a blender jug. Add water, salt, and yeast flakes and blend until you have a smooth sauce.
Using a medium-size pan heated to medium-low heat, add the margarine and stir until melted. Gradually add the flour while you keep whisking until you have a smooth kind of paste. Then pour slowly the cashew cream, while you keep whisking. Keep mixing until you have the right consistency and no lumps are formed.
Assembling a Vegetarian Moussaka
Once you have prepared the three elements, it is time to assemble your Vegan Moussaka. For this recipe, we use our ceramic casserole from Staub, with measurements of 32cm/20cm/6cm (12,5x8 inches).
- Place the roasted potatoes to create the first layer.
- Place the roasted eggplant on top of the potatoes.
- Add on top of the roasted veggies the vegetarian ragu. You want to add enough to create a thick layer and have enough sauce when eating the moussaka.
- Add another layer of eggplant.
- Pour the vegan bechamel so it covers the previous layers. At this point, you can add some fresh rosemary or another fresh herb to have a great presentation.
- Bake for about 20 minutes at 180C / 350F and broil the top for about 2-3 minutes so it gets a nice golden color.
Variations for our Veggie Moussaka
Make it vegetarian. To make this moussaka vegetarian, you can use regular bechamel and cheese.
Make it nut-free. To make the ragu nut-free, substitute the walnuts for button or cremini mushrooms. You can use a food processor to ground them into small pieces or simply finely chop them. Our bechamel is made with cashews, to substitute the cashew cream, you can use oat or soy cream.
Make it gluten-free. This recipe is really easy to make gluten-free. The only part that contains gluten is the bechamel. You can make a gluten-free vegan bechamel, following My Pure Plants recipe.
Add more veggies. Moussaka is a time-consuming recipe, and in order to keep it as simple as possible, we decided to just add eggplants and potatoes plus the veggies that are already in the sauce. Other veggies such as roasted zucchini or red pepper make a great addition to your layers.
Moussaka is a main dish that is hearty and filling. We love making moussaka for special gatherings such as family dinners, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, or other special days that we want/can spend longer in the kitchen to make something delicious.
This Greek-style casserole dish is perfect on its own. We normally make a light salad with fresh lettuce and tomatoes to serve on the side as the moussaka itself is more than enough. Other great side dishes to serve with this moussaka are this refreshing Beetroot Carpaccio or some Maple Roasted Carrots.
FAQ and Tips
- Can this Moussaka be made in advance? This recipe takes a bit of time and patience to make. If you can, we recommend making the ragu and roasted vegetables a day in advance, as well as leaving the cashews soaking overnight the night before. Leave the bechamel for the same day you are cooking this recipe.
- How can I make this Moussaka nut-free? To make this recipe nut-free you will need to substitute the walnuts added for the ragu for button or cremini mushrooms. You can use a food processor to ground them into small pieces or simply finely chop them. As well, our vegan bechamel is made with cashews, to substitute the cashew cream, you can use oat or soy cream.
- Can I make the "meaty" part of the ragu with lentils instead of cauliflower and walnuts? Yes, you can use cooked lentils instead of the cauliflower and walnut mixture we use for this recipe. Add the cooked lentils when you add the chopped tomatoes, before simmering the sauce.
- What size casserole was used to make this recipe? For this recipe, we use our ceramic casserole from Staub, with measurements of 32cm/20cm/6cm (12,5x8 inches).
Layer 1 - Roasted Vegetables
- 2 medium size potatoes
- 1 large eggplant
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
Layer 2 - Vegan Ragu
- ⅓ medium size cauliflower
- ⅓ cup walnuts
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 small onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 carrots
- 2-3 buttom mushrooms
- 600 g chopped tomatoes (canned or fresh)
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 bay leaf
Layer 3- Vegan Bechamel
- 100 g cashews presoaked
- 400 ml water
- 1 tablespoon yeast flakes
- 40 g plant-based margarine or vegan butter
- 40 g all purpose flour
1. Prepare the Roasted Eggplant and Potatoes
- Preheat the oven to 200C (400F)
- Peel and slice the potatoes into 2 cm thick slices. Wash and slice the eggplant (vertically) into medium-size slices.
- Place the potatoes and eggplant slices on a big baking tray, brush gently with olive oil, sprinkle some sea salt and bake for about 20 minutes or until golden.
2. Prepare the Vegan Ragu
- Cut the cauliflower into big florets and add into a food processor. Add the walnuts and pulse a couple of times. Keep pulsing a few times until everything is completely combined and grounded.
- Transfer the mixture to a baking tray. Add half of the spice mixture (cumin, coriander, cloves, cinnamon, black pepper, nutmeg, and salt) and drizzle some olive oil on the top.
- Bake for about 20 minutes at 180C (350F) stirring the mixture halfway through. When the mixture is cooked turn off the oven and leave aside.
- Finely chop the onion, carrot, mushrooms, and mince the garlic.
- Heat some oil in a big saucepan and add the onions. Stir for a couple of minutes until softened. Then add the garlic, carrot, and mushrooms.
- Leave cooking for 10-12 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and the other half of the spice mixture, oregano, and bay leaf. Stir until all the ingredients are perfectly combined.
- Lower the heat and leave simmering for at least 20 minutes. Adjust with sugar if the sauce is too acidic.
3. Prepare the Vegan Bechamel
- Leave the cashews soaking in warm water for 20-30 minutes or soak them overnight at room temperature. Rinse and set aside.
- Add the presoaked cashews to a blender jug with the water and yeast flakes. Blend until you have a smooth cream.
- Using a medium-size pan heated to medium-low heat, add the plant-based margarine and stir until melted. Gradually add the flour while you keep whisking until you have a smooth kind of paste.
- Slowly pour the cashew cream, while you keep whisking. Keep mixing until you have the right consistency and no lumps are formed.
4. Assemble the Moussaka
- Assemble the Moussaka using a medium-size casserole dish by creating layers. First, add the roasted potatoes and eggplant, then add the tomato ragu, add another layer of eggplant and to finish the moussaka, add the cashew bechamel.
- Bake the Moussaka for about 20 minutes. Then optionally, you can broil the top for about 2-3 minutes to get a nice golden colour.
If you tried our recipe, please leave a comment or tag us on Instagram. We are always happy to see your creations!