This big, hearty vegan moussaka, made with Beyond® Beef Plant-Based Ground, holds its own against the classic version served in tavernas all over Greece.
If you’ve spent any time in Greece, you’ll know it’s hard not to fall in love with the vibrant and satisfying local food.
Generally speaking, Greek food lends itself well to vegetarian and vegan lifestyles. Like other olive-oil based Mediterranean cuisines it relies heavily on pulses, grains, vegetables and fresh herbs.
Classic moussaka is decidedly not vegan, but its melt-in-your-mouth vegetables, cinnamon-tinged sauce and pillowy béchamel always made it hard for me to resist nonetheless. This 100% plant- based moussaka, made with Beyond Beef Plant-Based Ground, can fool omnivores any day of the week.
In my opinion, oven-baked dishes like moussaka and lasagna always taste better the next day after the ingredients have a chance to absorb the sauce and the flavors. That’s why I bake the moussaka the day before I plan to serve it.
I do the first bake without the béchamel since cashew béchamel dries up somewhat when you bake it a second time. However, this extra step can be skipped if you want to serve same day.
Recipe and photos contributed by Beth Williams.
- 2 1/2 cups raw cashews
- 3 eggplants
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 large potatoes
- Olive oil for frying
Meatless meaty layer
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 onions, finely chopped
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 6 Beyond Meat patties or 24 ounces (680gr) Beyond Beef® Plant-Based Ground (or use your favorite meatless ground brand)
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 14- to 16-ounce (480g) can crushed tomatoes
- 3/4 cup red wine
- 1 teaspoons salt
- 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- The soaked cashews
- 2 cups water
- 5 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- Soak the cashews overnight in plenty of water. Alternatively, you can soak them at least two hours the day of, although I don’t recommend this option unless you have a high-speed blender.
- Start preparing the vegetable layers. Remove stalks from the eggplant and cut into 1/4-inch rounds. Place in a large colander or bowl, sprinkle with salt and toss to coat. Set aside for 30 minutes to draw out moisture from the eggplant.
- Bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Peel and cut the potatoes into 1/4-inch (~ 0.65 cm) slices then boil them for 5 minutes. Gently strain the potatoes and run them under cold water to prevent them cooking further. Set aside.
- Rinse the eggplant under water to remove salt, then gently squeeze each slice to remove excess water and pat them dry.
- Place a large frying pan over medium heat. Liberally drizzle olive oil onto the pan, then add a layer of eggplant slices. When the eggplant has browned, drizzle more olive oil onto the backs of the slices, then flip them and cook the other side. This is no time to be stingy with the olive oil — there’s a reason Greek restaurant moussaka has such tender eggplant.
- Cook until both sides are browned and the eggplant has softened considerably. Put cooked slices on plate lined with paper towel to absorb excess oil. Repeat, adding a layer of paper towel for reach batch, until all the eggplant is cooked. Set aside. Note: if you’re avoiding oil or just want a lighter option, simply place the eggplant on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and bake in the oven.
- For the meatless meaty layer: Set a large pan with a lid on medium heat. Add the olive oil and sauté the onion until softened, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic, stir and let cook for an additional minute.
- Add the Beyond ground (or your preferred alternative) to the pan and use a wooden spoon to break it up into small-medium chunks. Cook for 5 to 8 minutes, until it starts to brown.
- Add the tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, red wine, salt, dried oregano, cinnamon, pepper, and bay leaf, and stir well to combine. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Continue to simmer the sauce uncovered for 10 minutes, or as needed to reduce. The sauce is ready when it is thick and not runny. Remove from heat and set aside.
- For the cashew béchamel: While the sauce is cooking, make the cashew béchamel. Add all of the béchamel ingredients to the bowl of a high-speed blender and blend until silky smooth. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
- Grease a 9 x 13 inch (24 x 35 cm) oven dish with olive oil.
- To assemble the moussaka: Layer the potatoes on the bottom, allowing them to overlap. Add one layer of eggplant, then all of the meatless sauce, followed by a second layer of eggplant.
- At this stage you have two options: If you’re making the moussaka for that day: Top with the cashew béchamel and bake, uncovered for 60 minutes until the top is browned and vegetables are very tender (you can use a sharp paring knife to test this). If you’re making the moussaka ahead of time: Reserve the béchamel in the fridge and bake the rest of the moussaka, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool completely, cover and reserve in the fridge. The next day, spread the béchamel on top of the moussaka and bake, uncovered, in a 375°F (190°C) oven until the top is browned and moussaka is piping hot in the center, about 45 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes before serving, then cut into squares or rectangular sections.
Beth Williams is a food writer, recipe developer, and marketing consultant. Born and raised near Paris, France, Beth has an obsession with travel and good food as well as a photographic memory for outstanding meals. She lives in Barcelona, Spain, with her husband. Follow her on Instagram or visit her website.
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