LENTIL WALNUT MOUSSAKA

If you’re a fan of Mediterranean flavors and dishes, this one will NOT disappoint! This plant-based and way healthier take on Greek Moussaka is traditionally made with ground beef or lamb (heaven forbid). I say bah to tradition and hello to health!!

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 20-25 minutes

Makes one 9 x 13 casserole

Ingredients

Ingredients for the main filling

  • 2 cups cooked lentils, brown or green
  • 1.5 cups raw walnuts
  • ½ tsp liquid smoke
  • 2 tsp Bragg’s Aminos
  • 1 TBS dried sage
  • 1 TBS smokey paprika

Vegetable Filling

  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 zucchini, diced
  • 1 medium eggplant, peeled or not, and sliced into 1/4″ rounds
  • 1 can diced, no-salt-added tomatoes, drained (Muir Glen fire-roasted is wonderful)
  • 1 tsp Bragg’s Aminos or other low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 TBS Spike salt-free seasoning
  • 1 TBS fresh thyme
  • 1/4 cup red wine

Bechamel topping

  • 4 medium size Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 1½ cups water (or unsweetened non-dairy milk)
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

Optional Garnish

Instructions

Make the Main Filling

  1. Lay eggplant rounds on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Sprinkle generously with salt and allow them to ‘sweat’ their liquid for about 15-20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, cook lentils according to package directions. For extra flavor, use a no-salt vegetable stock instead of water (or half & half ratio). Lentils should take 25-30 minutes. You want them almost mushy, but still maintain a little bite.
  3. While lentils cook, chop the walnuts to a semi-fine state.
  4. When lentils are done, let them cool slightly before transferring to a large round bowl. Then, using a potato masher, grind the lentils into a semi-paste state. Add the chopped walnuts and the rest of the ‘meat filling’ ingredients to the semi-mashed lentils. Mix all together well.*Option: pulse ¾ of this lentil walnut mix in a food processor just 2-3 times, then mix back into the remaining lentils.

Make the Veggie Filling

  1. Water sauté the onion in large pan until tender.
  2. Add the zucchini and seasonings, liquid aminos and thyme and combine.
  3. Drain the liquid from the tomatoes and add them to the pan.
  4. Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated from the veggies.
  5. Deglaze the pan with the wine.
  6. Rinse and pat dry all eggplant rounds, then add them a few at a time to the heated pan without crowding. (You may have to do this several times). Cook for just 2-3 minutes and remove from pan.
  7. Add the chopped walnuts and the rest of the ‘meat filling’ ingredients. Mix all together well.Simmer for another minute.
  8. Lightly spray oil your 9 x 13 or deep casserole dish.

Making the Potato Bechamel Topping

  1. Steam or boil your cut potatoes until tender.
  2. Using your food processor, add the cooked potatoes, the milk alternative, nutmeg, onion powder and S/P. Mix until creamy and smooth.

Build Casserole

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Lightly oil a 9 X 13 casserole dish.
  3. Spread a thin layer of the chopped vegetable filling on the bottom of the casserole.
  4. Layer the eggplant rounds next, slightly overlapping each.
  5. Next add 1/2 of the lentil mixture and pat down with a flat spoon to smooth it out.
  6. Add the rest of the vegetable filling, and another layer of the eggplant, then the remaining lentil mix.
  7. Top with the béchamel sauce, making a thick 1-2″ topping.
  8. You can add some fresh tomato slices next if you’d like.
  9. Bake, tightly covered, for 30 minutes.
  10. Take the cover off, add a sprinkle of almond parmesan cheese, and continue baking for 10-15 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when it starts to brown slightly and begins to crack around the edges.
  11. Let set for 15-20 minutes before cutting and serving, finishing with your fresh thyme sprigs.