Peppery Mushroom Moussaka

A vegetarian variation of the Greek classic, this moussaka has a peppery mushroom filling, layered with grilled eggplant and topped with decadent bechamel sauce.

Ingredients

For the eggplant layers:

  • 1kg Large eggplants sliced into 1/2" thick round slices
  • 2tbsp Olive oil, for brushing
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the mushroom filling:

  • 1tbsp Butter
  • 1tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 Rosemary sprigs
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 2tbsp Garlic, chopped fine
  • 1tbsp Pepper, freshly ground
  • 400g Fresh mushrooms, chopped fine
  • 2tbsp Dried mushroom, powdered
  • 2tbsp Tomato puree
  • 1/2tsp Salt

For the bechamel (white) sauce topping:

  • 3tbsp Butter
  • 2 Sprigs rosemary 1 Bay leaf
  • 3tbsp Refined flour
  • 750ml Milk
  • 1/2tsp Nutmeg powder
  • Salt to taste

For the assembly:

  • 1cup Vegetable stock
  • 1tsp Baking powder
  • 1cup Gouda or Chedder cheese, grated

Method

For the eggplant layers:

1. Sprinkle salt on the eggplant slices and leave them aside in a colander for about 20 minutes. This will release any bitter juices and dehydrate them a little.

2. After 20 minutes, gently squeeze the slices, brush with olive oil on both sides and lay on the wire rack.

3. Grill for 5-6 minutes on each side. The eggplant may not cook all the way through, but the edges must turn golden brown and crisp. Keep these aside for later.

For the mushroom filling:

1. Heat the butter and olive oil in a pan. Keep the flame on medium so the butter doesn't burn. Add the rosemary and bay leaf and saute until fragrant. Add garlic and saute till golden. Add crushed pepper and stir fry for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the mushrooms to the pan and stir well. Cook until they release their juices.

2. Once the mushrooms are soft and cooked through, add in the dried mushroom powder. Cook the mixture till it dries out completely and then add tomato puree and salt. Mix well and saute till almost dry. Keep aside.

For the bechamel (white) sauce topping:

1. Melt the butter. Add the rosemary and bay leaf. Saute' till fragrant.

2. Add the flour and stir in. Cook for about 1 minute till mixture begins to colour slightly. Add the milk in a steady stream and vigorously whisk while you do.

3. Add nutmeg powder and salt and let this mixture boil for about 3 minutes till it thickens to form a creamy sauce.

For the assembly:

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.

2. Brush 4 single-portion baking dishes with olive oil. Layer the base with the grilled eggplant slices at the base, overlapping them to make an even layer. Spoon the mushroom filling over the eggplant layer in each dish and spread it out evenly. Cover the mushroom layer in each dish with remaining grilled eggplant slices.

3. Divide the stock into four and gently pour one measure into each dish so it just about covers the eggplant layer.

4. Add the baking powder to the bechamel sauce and whisk in. Divide into four and pour this over the eggplant layering each dish. Spread evenly. Sprinkle grated cheese over each assembled Moussaka.

5. Bake for 25-35 minutes, till the tops turn golden brown.

6. Serve while warm.

  • function:  top/bottom heating
  • temperature: 180 degrees C
  • time: 60-75 minutes
  • level 3