For many, moussaka is the first dish that comes to mind when thinking about Greek food. No wonder, as it has managed to travel the world as a delicious specialty in Greek kitchens and restaurants. Each household has its own recipe (and is proud of it!), and every moussaka comes with its own story. Like this one today, of our friend and partner Sophie Stokes. A multi-talented, energetic woman, greatly passionate about her Greek roots, but at the same time, open to the culture of Australia, her new home.

Read her story and recipe for this beautiful veggie moussaka, but make sure you add her secret ingredient: enjoy it with friends and family around the table, it always makes it taste better! 

“Growing up in Australia, we had the extra blessing of enjoying not just our Greek culture but also our Australian culture. My mum would send us to school with the best sandwiches filled with the yummiest of ingredients but often I just longed for a vegemite sandwich, just like my Australian friends.

It wasn’t until I became an adult, I began to really appreciate my Greek roots. Welcoming friends and family into my home to serve them a delicious Greek dish was the highlight of my week! I love every moment of it; I love cooking for people who appreciated food made from scratch.

I am married to an Australian man who has loved learning more about my culture. My baba taught him how to prepare a lamb for Greek Easter and now as my father is too old to continue with the tradition, my Australian husband has taken on this Greek tradition. Not only that, our sons in law, who are both Australian, have joined in on the experience and they too now know how to prepare a lamb for Greek Easter.

But one of my favourite dishes I like to serve my friends when having dinner with us is my vegetable moussaka. Layers of potato, eggplant and a homemade passata with chickpeas instead of meat, topped with a thick layer of bechamel sauce, this dish is a winner every time!

I’d love to share it with you so you too can impress your friends and have them coming back for more!”

Vegetarian Moussaka

Ingredients

Tomato Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 1 medium leek, thinly sliced 
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced 
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin 
  • 2 teaspoons paprika  
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • ½ kg diced Roma tomatoes 
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste 
  • 400g cooked chickpeas 
  • ½ cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped 
  • ½ cup fresh basil, chopped 
  • 250ml vegetable stock 
  • salt & pepper, to taste 
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten

Eggplant and Potato Layer

  • 1 large eggplant, diced in 2 cm cubes, salted 
  • 4 medium potatoes, diced into 2 cm cubes 
  • ¼ cup olive oil 
  • 1 zucchini, cut in half lengthways, sliced 
  • 100g feta, crumbled 
  • ½ cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped 
  • salt & pepper, to taste

 Bechamel Sauce

  • 125g unsalted butter, chopped in cubes 
  • ½ cup plain flour 
  • 3 cups milk 
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese 
  • parmesan cheese, extra 
  • 2 egg yolks 
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Method

Tomato Sauce

1. Lightly sauté leek and garlic in olive oil. Add spices stirring for 5 minutes to flavour leek and garlic.

2. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, chickpeas, fresh herbs and vegetable stock. Stir until combined and bring to boil. Season, cover and lower heat to simmer for 45 minutes.

3. When cool, add eggs and stir through.

Eggplant layer

1. Preheat oven to 180*C. Dice and salt eggplants and leave aside in a colander for 30 minutes. Rinse and pat dry.

2. Heat oil in shallow frying pan on medium heat. Add potatoes and cook till golden brown. Remove and drain on absorbent paper. Place in lightly oiled medium size baking dish (30cm x 20cm).

3. Add eggplants to frypan and cook until golden brown. Remove and drain on absorbent paper. Lightly sauté

zucchini for 2-3 minutes. Remove and drain on absorbent paper. Place eggplants and zucchini on top of potatoes.

4. Crumble feta on top and sprinkle with parsley. Season.

5. Pour cooked tomato sauce on top.

Bechamel Sauce

1. In a medium saucepan, melt butter. Add flour; stir to combine.

2. Gradually add milk, whisking out any lumps that form. Keep whisking until mixture boils and thickens.

Remove from heat.

3. Add egg yolks, parmesan and nutmeg. Stir until combined.

4. Pour bechamel over tomato sauce.

5. Sprinkle extra parmesan and nutmeg on top and bake in oven for 40 – 45 minutes or until golden.

Deliciously served with a juicy Greek salad on the side.

Follow Sophie on www.insofiaskitchen.com.au & fb/instagram @insofiaskitchen to learn all about healthy, Mediterranean cuisine and even hop on your new foodie adventure in Greece!