Eggplant Moussaka with Pine Nut Cream

 

In this version of a Greek casserole, layers of roasted eggplant, potatoes and zucchini are layered with cinnamon-scented tomato sauce and topped with a velvety topping of pine nut cream. This dish takes quite a bit of prep, so it's a great dish for a special occasion. You can also use the pine nut cream in this recipe in any lasagna or pizza dish.


Method:

Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Lightly oil three baking sheets or shallow pans.

Prep the veggies:

Wash and trim stem from eggplant and zucchini. Scrub and peel potatoes. Slice the eggplant, zucchini and potato, lengthwise, into approximately 6mm thick slices. Rub eggplant slices with a little salt and set aside in a colander in the sink or in a big bowl for about 15 minutes to soften, briefly rinsing with cold water and squeezing out any excess liquid water.

Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper and place each vegetable on a separate baking sheet. Distribute 1/4 C oil between the three sheets and sprinkle vegetables with salt (except eggplant if salted already). Toss to coat, making sure each piece is completely coated with oil. Spread vegetables out with minimal overlapping. Roast the zucchini and eggplant for 15 minutes or until tender. Roast the potatoes for about 20 minutes, until edges are lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool.

The zucchini will likely be very watery after roasting, so when it’s cool enough to touch, gently but firmly squeeze slices, by the handful, to remove any excess water. This will prevent an overly wet casserole and will help concentrate the flavors.

Make the tomato sauce:

While vegetables are cooking prepare the tomato sauce. Add remaining 1/4 C olive oil and minced garlic to a large heavy bottom sauce pot. Bring to medium heat and let garlic sizzle for about 30 seconds, then add shallots and cook until soft and translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add wine and simmer until slightly reduced, another 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, oregano, ground cinnamon and bay leaf. Partially cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 12 to 14 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sauce should reduce slightly. Turn off the heat, remove bay leaf and adjust salt.

Make the pine nut topping:

Blend together pine nuts and lemon juice, scrapping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula until a creamy paste forms. Add tofu, garlic, arrowroot, nutmeg, salt and white pepper. Blend until creamy and smooth.

Putting it all together: 

Lightly oil a 22 x 33 cm pan and pre-heat oven again to 180 degrees Celsius. Spread 1/4 C of sauce in the pan, then add a layer of the following; eggplant, potatoes, sauce, and half of the breadcrumbs. Spread all of the zucchini on top of this. Top with a final layer of eggplant, potatoes, sauce and breadcrumbs. Use a rubber spatula to evenly spread the pine nut topping over the entire top, smoothing out any uneven spots. Scatter a few pine nuts on top. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until top is lightly browned and a few cracks have formed in the topping. Allow to cool 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

 

Recipe modified from Veganomicon.

Ingredients: 

For the vegetable layers:

  • 500g eggplant
  • 500g zucchini
  • 700g baking potatoes (using large, long potatoes works perfectly in this recipe)
  • 1/4 C olive oil
  • 1/2 C breadcrumbs

For the sauce:

  • 1/4 C olive oil
  • 4 large shallots, sliced thin
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 C red wine
  • 2, 450ml jars of passata tomatoes
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt to taste

Pine Nut Cream:

  • 450g soft tofu
  • 1/2 C pine nuts
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp arrowroot powder
  • 1 clove garlic
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt or to taste
  • white pepper to taste
  • Extra pine nuts for garnish