We love Greek food in our house. The Greeks just know how to make tasty vegetables like marinated artichokes, and char grilled eggplant. There was a fabulous little Greek restaurant in Katoomba called Treis Elies and we went there quite a few times for their ridiculously good veg banquet. We wouldn't eat much all day just so we had room to eat it all. Alas the restaurant is now closed, but we try and replicate some of our favourites at home. I have to say moussaka, in it's herbivore form, is just as tasty - no a lot tastier than it's carnivore counterpart. I've made this version a few times now, and it's now a favourite in our house. When I made this big baking tray last week, with the view to freeze in portions for when I am home late from work or on my own while Mr Sprout is away, my plan was somewhat thwarted. We had some for dinner, and I had a small portion for lunch the following day. When I got home, I found the tray denuded of it's spoils (there was over 1/3 left) and I thought my beloved had portioned it for me. That is, until he didn't eat much dinner and I discovered he had scoffed the lot!
I'm not a fan of seitan, TVP or similar. I prefer using other ingredients to give a texture to "mince." My fallback is usually chickpeas, lentils, cracked wheat or a combo. Quinoa makes a nice change, and it's gluten free, so if you make the white sauce with gluten free flour, your gluten intolerant comrades will thank you for it.
You can char grill and marinate your own eggplant, or use store bought. This time I used store bought as I didn't have time to make my own, but usually I do it from scratch. Using a mandolin, cut the eggplant into slices (I usually make them thin, about 0.5cm). If they are the larger eggplants, you will need to salt them to take out the bitterness. It will also stop them from soaking up as much oil when you grill them. Place in a colander over a bowl or in the sink for an hour, you will see a pool of brown liquid which means the salt has done it's job! Give the eggplant a light rinse and let it drain before patting dry. Fry/char grill on a hotplate in vegetable oil until golden and put aside. Drizzle with garlic infused olive oil, a little white wine vinegar and chopped oregano, leaving it covered, overnight in the fridge.
For the quinoa "mince"
3 char grilled eggplant (or store bought)
1 cup quinoa
500 gr mushrooms, chopped
2 x 400 gr tins of tomato puree
1 x 400 gr tin chopped tomatoes
2 large brown onions, chopped
2 carrots, finely diced
1 stick celery, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
pepper to taste
1 bunch oregano, finely chopped
1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
Cook quinoa according to apcket directions in vegatabel stock and set aside.
In a large saucepan, gently saute onion, garlic, celery and carrot until tender.
Add mushrooms, and cook for a couple of minutes more.
Add tinned and puree tomatoes, oregano, parsley, and pepper, and stir through.
Add cooked quinoa, and about a cup of water, and allow to simmer gently for approximately 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. When it is done you should have a soft porridge consistency. Don't be alarmed if it seems a little runny, quinoa keeps soaking up liquid. Set aside to cool. If you are making this ahead, cover and keep in the fridge until ready to assemble.
For the white sauce
3 tablespoons nuttelex
1 litre of soymilk ( I use bonsoy as it has a good flavour for creamy sauces)
3 tablespoons dijon mustard
1/3 cup gluten free plain flour (I use Orgran)
ground white pepper
In a saucepan, melt nuttelex and add flour, stirring vigorously into a paste. Slowly add soymilk a little at a time, to ensure the sauce stays smooth. Add dijon, pepper, and salt, and gently simmer for about 10 minutes, still stirring. It should be nice and thick.
To assemble the moussaka, grease a large deep oven tray, and layer eggplant to cover the bottom. Spread some of the quinoa mixture over the eggplant, and repeat until you run out of mixture. I usually get three layers of eggplant. cover the top with the white sauce, and pop into a 180C oven for about 40 minutes, until top is golden. you can drizzle the top with oregano pesto if you like, or just garnish with a few fresh oregano leaves.