Vegan Moussaka

Moussaka is probably one of the first dishes people think about when asked “can you name a Greek dish”.  Growing up though, my mum didn’t make this often as there’s a fair bit of work involved.  Instead, she’d make pastitso, which is a baked pasta with beef mince, covered with bechemel sauce.  Much easier and less time consuming than moussaka!

For my moussaka, I first began by slicing eggplant, salting it and then rinsing/patting dry.  I also sliced up some potatoes.  Both the potatoes and eggplant were shallow fried in oil (something I don’t like to do often!):

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My mother in law had given me some tomatoes so I made a quick tomato, onion and garlic sauce.  Ideally I would have like to chop the tomatoes more, or pureed the whole thing but I hadn’t washed the blender:

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For the meat layer, I used the walnut-cauliflower meat recipe from Diet Dessert and Dogs.  I used half walnut and half pecans. For the dried spices I used about a heaped teaspoon of paprika and dried oregano.  For the layering, I think I did potatoes, eggplants, sauce, ‘meat’, potato, eggplant, ‘meat’, sauce.  Yeah, I screwed up the order a little.

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For the cream layer on top, I whizzed up raw unsalted cashews and pine nuts with some water, juice from a medium lemon and a good dash of nutmeg (salt and pepper to taste too):

I was pretty happy with how it turned out.  This is something I’d make on a special occassion.  And a bigger stove so I could fry everything at once. Bad photo with twee background:

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Next time I’d like to add more flavour to the cashew-pine nut cream but overall I was happy with how it turned out 🙂

Tasty delights and Tasty Lasagna

I’ll start off with our lovely Mister Nice Guy’s Bake Shop treats from yesterday.  We visited my family and on the way I picked up a few things on request to split with them.  Mister Nice Guy has changed the recipe for his cinnamon buns and they are softer but just as delicious.  The peanut butter cheesecake was again delicious and the walnut brownie was a hit too:

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Now every once in a while I am sharply reminded that I don’t know half as much about cooking as I thought I did.  Before going vegan, I fancied myself as quite knowledgeable about cooking and I was a bit of a gourmet foodie pre-kids.

While I was still an omnivore, a vegan friend introduced me to eating raw.  I was blown away by kale chips (kale, what’s that?) and the nut cheeses she made.  There were ingredients I’d never heard of, like nutritional yeast and Irish moss (not that I use the latter but it’s still fascinating).  Now of course you don’t have to be vegan to know about these things and cook with them, but I had I not become vegan I don’t know if I would have ever learnt about nutritional powerhouses available to us all.

Another thing that blew me away was how to use nuts and veggies in different ways.  I would never ever have imagined finely processing a raw parsnip to make ‘rice’.  Or making meatless balls with nuts or amazing sausage rolls.  Becoming vegan is what exposed me to all these different ways of using plants.

So when I came across this recipe for meatless meaty lasagna using cauliflower and walnuts as the ‘meat’, I jumped up and down then bookmarked it for a later day.  And that day was today!

Now, there’s potentially a fair bit of work here but as the recipe says you can reduce prep time by using bottled pasta sauce and pesto.

Here’s the ground walnuts-cauliflower ‘meat’ mixture all cooked nicely:

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Here’s the tofu ‘ricotta’ with pesto:

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The ricotta and pesto mixed together:

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And the finished product (which sort of plopped on to the plate in an undignified fashion):

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I made my own pesto as I had the ingredients to use up today but the sauce was a bottled mix.  I did like this dish but the family wouldn’t go near it so now I’m stuck with a big load to freeze.  If I make this again I’ll use pecans as I can taste the walnuts.  I like walnuts but more if they’re in a maple syrup banana bread concoction.  Pecans are my nut of choice for ‘meaty’ things.

I can definitely see myself making the cauliflower-nut mix again to use in a bolognese sauce.  In fact, I might use a cauli-pecan mix for another version of sausage rolls.  Which could mean another cooking disaster that I would feel obligated to blog about.

If you have a link to a favourite nutty kind of ‘meaty’ meal, please share in the comments!

UPDATE: this tasted even better a day or two later and the walnutty taste didn’t bother me at all then so in the future I’ll probably stick with the walnut-cauli mix.  I think I just had to get over the fact this was a walnuts dish in a non-dessert presentation  🙂  I gave a bit to some other family members and they’ve bookmarked the recipe too.  Husband did try some the day after I made it and declared it was better than he expected (he’s a big non-vegan-version-of-lasagna fan).  I’m glad the kids didn’t take to it because I have the frozen leftovers all for myself  🙂

Thanks folks, see you back here soon  🙂