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Moussaka Help Please

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I have family coming; one of them is vegetarian; I am thinking of serving moussaka, with a main meat moussaka and a satellite vegetarian moussaka. When I make moussaka the bottom layer is eggplant, the middle layer is ground meat, and the top layer is bechamel sauce. Problem is, the distinctive flavor goes in the meat, the onion, cinnamon, lemon juice, tomato sauce etc. I've never made vegetarian moussaka, so I need suggestions as to a) whether there is something I can put in place of the meat (slices of potato?) and b) how do I work in the flavor (put lemon juice, onion, and cinnamon with the eggplant). Or?

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  1. most vegetarian moussaka recipes just call for sliced zucchini and potato (treated the same way as the eggplant, and layered) to replace the meat. but for a closer approximation of a traditional meat moussaka, add *lentils* too, and simmer them with the spices/flavors you'd typically use for the meat.

    1. I've subbed mushrooms for the ground meat before. Tasted great. I might even like that version better.

      3 Replies
      1. re: soypower

        doh! how could i forget mushrooms? the only issue i have with that method is that it takes *a lot* of mushrooms to get sufficient bulk once you cook them down.

        i think a combination of lentils and mushrooms would be the perfect compromise!

        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

          make a duxelle of the mushrooms and once all the liquid has been cooked out, spread it like you would a boulainaise.

          1. re: robt5265

            ok, this one took me a minute...do you mean bolognese (meat sauce)?

      2. Lentils sounds like a great idea! I've used chopped mushrooms and zucchini before with good results--when most of the liquid is gone, I add the spices, and some breadcrumbs for texture. The winner from our various attempts at this, I think, is the "country style moussaka" from New Recipes from the Moosewood (*not* the "mushroom moussaka" from the original moosewood)
        That said, there are also meat substitutes that would probably work well in this context...

        1 Reply
        1. re: another_adam

          Definetly still add the cinnamon/nutmeg to the sauce though, gives it so much depth.

          I added sliced potato to a moussaka before..... one word of advice: cook the potatoes before adding them to the moussaka or they can be a little al dente.

        2. I have used soy sausage (called Gimme Lean) that comes in a tube for my moussaka and have had excellent results. Break it up and brown it over med-high heat, then treat like ground beef. Definitely add extra oil to make up for the lack of fat normally found in the ground lamb/beef.

          Meat eaters won't be able to tell the difference because of the spices and flavorings added to the ground meat layer. That would be nice to do because the vegetarian won't feel odd because you have made a dish just for them, since everyone will enjoy the moussaka together.

          On a side note, I like adding a layer of thinly sliced potato to the bottom of my moussaka now. I didn't used to, but my husband's favorite Greek restaurant did it and he asked me to try it. One time and I was sold. The potato soaks up the wonderful drippings from top and tastes so great!