Thursday, March 22, 2012

Vegan Moussaka

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My first vegan moussaka attempt ended in failure. The problem was making a good vegan bechamel sauce without it tasting so soy-y. I think this time I managed to make a decent vegan bechamel sauce with arrowroot powder, which gave it the thick, saucy consistency that I was looking for. Also I cut back on the use of soy products so that it wouldn't taste like... well, soy products.

For this (not so photogenic) vegan moussaka, you will need:
  • 3 medium eggplants, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
  • 1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 medium yellow onion, medium diced
  • 1 spring fresh oregano, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pint brown button mushrooms, quartered
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for greasing
  • salt to taste
  • 1 portion vegan bechamel sauce, recipe below
For vegan bechamel sauce, you will need:
  • 5 tablespoons butter substitute (I used Earth Balance)
  • 3 tablespoons arrowroot powder (if arrowroot powder is hard to find, use 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour)
  • 1 1/2 cups non-dairy, non-soy milk (I used almond milk, but there is a variety of options on the market, like coconut milk, rice milk, and hemp milk)
  • 4 tablespoons non-dairy cream cheese (I used Tofutti)
  • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • salt to taste
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Rub sliced eggplants on both sides with olive oil and place on baking sheet. Alternatively, you can also spray both sides of sliced eggplant with non-stick spray. Roast for 30 minutes or until lightly browned.

In a medium pot, heat up 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Sautee diced onion until translucent, about 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in garlic and minced oregano and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add mushrooms and stir until softened, about 3 minutes. Add ground allspice, ground cloves and ground cinnamon. Stir a few times. Add vegetable stock, cannellini beans and dice tomatoes. Season with salt. Turn heat up high until mixture boils. Turn heat back down to medium and allow it to boil, uncovered, until mixture reduces and thickens, about 15 minutes. Set aside.

In a saucepan, melt 5 tablespoons butter substitute over medium heat. Sprinkle in arrowroot powder or all purpose flour and whisk vigorously until all the dry ingredient is incorporated and the mixture thickens. While whisking, slowly pour in non-dairy, non-soy milk. Bring sauce to boil. Turn down the heat and allow mixture to simmer. Whisk in non-dairy cream cheese and freshly grated nutmeg. Allow mixture to simmer for 5 minutes while whisking.

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

Spray baking dish with non-stick spray. Line the bottom of the dish with eggplant slices. Pour about half of the bean mixture on top. Spread out evenly. Top with another layer of eggplant slices. Pour and spread the remainder of the bean mixture. Top with another layer of eggplant slices. Pour vegan bechamel sauce over the top and spread it out evenly. Bake for 35 minutes. Broil on high for an additional 3 to 5 minutes to brown the top. Allow it to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

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