mushrooms

Vegan μουσακάς λαχανικών με κιμά από φακές και μανιτάρια, ελαφρύς, εύκολος, χωρίς λιπαρά - Vegan, oil-free, easy Greek mousaka - Vegan in Athens

Vegan moussaka with lentils and mushrooms – oil-free, easy and delicious

One of the most famous Greek foods is undoubtedly the Greek moussaka, a baked dish with layers of eggplants and potatoes and a meaty sauce between them. This dish is actually of unknown origin as we can find several variations not only in Greece but also in Turkey as well as other countries. However traditional Greek moussaka has a top layer of bechamel sauce, probably an influence by the French cuisine and moreover it is always served hot. But the famous moussaka in fact is a really complicated, heavy dish, since its original recipe requires to fry all the vegetables, to fry and then cook the meat to make the sauce, to cover with a greasy bechamel and eventually to end up with a mountain of dirty utensils and oils all over the kitchen walls, Well I wouldn’t really call it what one would opt to make for dinner! But an oil-free, vegan moussaka is a completely different story! Rich in nutritional value and with a mouthwatering taste thanks to the variety of vegetables we use, light and much easier to prepare, it has become one of the foods we enjoy regularly during spring and summer when eggplants are on their best.

Overall, I need about one hour to prepare it, since I do not fry anything, but I bake the sliced vegetables for a while in the oven – just as long as they need to soften slightly and eliminate some of their moisture. For the sauce I use lentils, fresh ripe tomatoes, fresh mushrooms and finely chopped nuts for an even better texture and taste. Although some might have objections to the way I prepare my vegan “bechamel”, since I do not add any oily substance to my recipe, I am going to say just try it!

As we cherish all summer vegetables, I used a lot of them for my recipe! So my vegan moussaka is made by three layers of vegetables: slices of selected potatoes at the base of the pan, sweet aubergines in the middle and slices of green courgettes on top. Actually we love this vegan moussaka, as it is oil free, the baked vegetables retain all their taste, it’s delicious, it is made much easier and faster than the classic non vegan moussaka and it incorporates the Greek summer in every bite!

Vegan μουσακάς λαχανικών με κιμά από φακές και μανιτάρια, ελαφρύς, εύκολος, χωρίς λιπαρά - Vegan, oil-free, easy Greek mousaka - Vegan in Athens

Ingredients
(for 6-8 large portions)

for the layers of vegetables

  • 1 large or 2 medium potatoes peeled and thinly sliced (0,5 cm)
  • 3-4 large eggplants, sliced
  • 4-5 large zucchini, thinly sliced

for the mushroom and lentil sauce

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, pureed
  • 250 g fresh mushrooms finely chopped (I use oyster mushrooms)
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup white wine (or extra water)
  • 1 red sweet bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 4 medium ripe tomatoes grated (or blended in a food processor)
  • 1 large carrot coarsely grated
  • 1/2 cup dry lentils
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup raw nuts or seeds, slightly chopped but not powdered (we can use almonds, walnuts or sunflower seeds)
  • 1 tsp salt (or according to our taste)
  • 1/2 tsp dried hot chili peppers
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • freshly ground pepper

for the oil free, vegan “bechamel” sauce

  • 4 cups (1 liter) plant based milk, store-bought or homemade without sugar (I like to use unsweetened rice or oat milk)
  • 12 level tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 or 2 vegan bouillon cubes (store-bought or homemade), depending on how salty we like our sauce (I use two!)
  • freshly ground pepper
  • freshly ground nutmeg (optional)

additionally

  • 3-4 handfuls of grated vegan cheese or nutritional yeast (for a 100% oil free recipe)
  • bread crumbs for sprinkling

Method

1. For the vegetable layers: Cut the eggplants into slices of about 1 cm thick. Salt them and leave them aside for about 30 minutes. That way they will become sweeter! Cut the potatoes and zucchini into thin slices about 1/2 cm. To cut even slices, I use the vegetable mandolin slicer.
2. Lay a large baking pan with non stick paper and put the eggplants and the zucchini slices in the pan. It doesn’t matter if they overlap, since you will bake them just enough to soften, so they will not stick together. Bake in a preheated oven for 30 minutes at 200 ° C. Potatoes do not need to be pre-baked – they will be perfectly cooked by absorbing moisture and flavors from the sauce while you bake your moussaka.
3. For the sauce: In a large and deep pan or in a saucepan, put the onion, garlic and mushrooms and sauté for a few minutes. Add the wine (or extra water), the lentils, pepper, carrot, parsley, tomatoes, season and simmer over low heat for 35-45 minutes until the lentils soften and the sauce thickens. Finally, pour the nuts, mix and turn off the fire.
4. Assembly: Grease a medium-sized deep baking dish (I used a 29x21x6cm) or use a non-stick cookware. At the bottom arrange the potatoes, slightly overlapping each slice with the next so as not to allow any gaps between them. Pour 1/3 of the sauce over the potato layer and spread it evenly with a spoon. Sprinkle with a handful of cheese or nutritional yeast and continue with the next layer. Arrange the baked eggplants, 1/3 of the sauce, vegan cheese and finally the baked zucchini slices, the rest of the sauce and the rest of the vegan cheese.
5. For the vegan bechamel: In a saucepan, add half of the vegan milk along with the vegan bouillon cubes, nutmeg and pepper and stir over medium heat until the cubes completely dissolve. Add the remaining milk in the blender along with the flour and blend for a few seconds until the flour is dissolved and no lumps are present. Once the milk in the pan comes to a boil, pour the flour mixture in the pan and stir continuously, over low to medium, heat with a wooden spoon for 5-10 minutes until a thick cream is formed.
6. Pour the bechamel over the moussaka, sprinkle immediately with a generous amount of bread crumbs and bake at 200 o C for about an hour or until the surface is golden.
7. Allow the moussaka to cool slightly for half an hour and serve hot.

Vegan μουσακάς λαχανικών με κιμά από φακές και μανιτάρια, ελαφρύς, εύκολος, χωρίς λιπαρά - Vegan, oil-free, easy Greek mousaka - Vegan in Athens

Note: Wash the tomatoes thoroughly and blend them without removing the spores and the peels. That way you will add some extra nutrients in your recipe but most importantly you will add to the taste as it has been found that the umami is hidden in these two parts of the fruit!

For the bechamel we can use any unsweetened plant-based milk but our favorite version is with rice or oat milk.

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Vegetables, mushrooms and chickpeas in homemade sweet and sour sauce - Λαχανικά, μανιτάρια και ρεβύθια με σπιτική γλυκόξινη σάλτσα - Vegan in Athens

Vegan sweet and sour vegetables and mushrooms

When I started my blog “Vegan in Athens”, as a small contribution to animal rights and veganism, I had decided that I would share Greek and Mediterranean vegan recipes and indeed that’s what I try to do. On the other hand, I could not abstain from writing about recipes that, although not created under the Mediterranean sun, are an important part of our modern (vegan) eating culture. One such example is the vegan Russian salad, for which I wrote about in the previous post, and now the well-known sweet and sour sauce from China for which I am going to write today. In fact I will tell you about my Greek and vegan approach of the sauce, which can be used either as a dipping or pouring-over for a meal or as a sauce which is cooked together with various ingredients such as vegetables and tofu.

Vegetables, mushrooms and chickpeas in homemade sweet and sour sauce - Λαχανικά, μανιτάρια και ρεβύθια με σπιτική γλυκόξινη σάλτσα - Vegan in Athens

Since the ingredients traditionally found in Chinese cuisine are quite different from those found in Greece, I adjusted my recipe in order to create an easy, budget, vegan sweet and sour sauce, mainly made with ingredients that grow locally. So when we are in the mood for something more “exotic” I often stir-fry some fresh vegetables and mushrooms, adding a source of plant protein, such as chickpeas and afterwards I mix with my Greek-Chinese sweet and sour sauce. For this purpose I use local, fresh products that are easy to find and affordable to purchase. Thus instead of using pineapple, I use freshly squeezed orange juice, instead of sesame oil, olive oil and instead of rice vinegar, apple-cider or white vinegar. When I want to keep the recipe sugar-free I like to use agave nectar instead of sugar.

Vegetables, mushrooms and chickpeas in homemade sweet and sour sauce - Λαχανικά, μανιτάρια και ρεβύθια με σπιτική γλυκόξινη σάλτσα - Vegan in Athens

Sweet and sour vegetables and mushrooms are delicious, easy and quick to prepare. Basically you only have to saute the vegetables together with the mushrooms and then add the mixture of the sauce. The addition of corn starch is a trick that is used in order to thicken the sauce without adding large amounts of fat. Another useful little secret to maintain your vegetables crunchy and tasty, is to saute them in a large frying pan over medium-high heat, stirring regularly, for a few minutes (if you have a large wok that’s fantastic, but mine was ruined long time ago and till then it serves as a flower pot). After sauteing, you simply add the sauce and simmer for a while before serving. This delicious dish can be served with rice or noodles.

Vegetables, mushrooms and chickpeas in homemade sweet and sour sauce - Λαχανικά, μανιτάρια και ρεβύθια με σπιτική γλυκόξινη σάλτσα - Vegan in Athens

Ingredients

  • 1 large red bell pepper cut into strips
  • 1 large orange bell pepper cut into strips
  • 2 medium carrots cut into strips
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped cabbage (we can use regular white or Chinese cabbage or bok choy)
  • 2 cups (250 g) white mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 spring onions or 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 piece of ginger about 4 cm peeled and chopped
  • 2 cups chickpeas, cooked and drained
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

Vegetables, mushrooms and chickpeas in homemade sweet and sour sauce - Λαχανικά, μανιτάρια και ρεβύθια με σπιτική γλυκόξινη σάλτσα - Vegan in Athens

for the sauce

  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar (preferably apple-cider)
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar or other sweetener
  • 1/2 cup slightly concentrated tomato juice
  • 2 level tablespoons cornflour
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

Vegetables, mushrooms and chickpeas in homemade sweet and sour sauce - Λαχανικά, μανιτάρια και ρεβύθια με σπιτική γλυκόξινη σάλτσα - Vegan in Athens

Method

1. Add the olive oil in a large frying pan and saute the vegetables and ginger over medium-high heat, stirring often, for about fifteen minutes or until slightly tender but crunchy. Add the chickpeas, salt and pepper and stir.
2. In a bowl, mix the orange juice, tomato, vinegar and lemon. Add the corn starch and mix well until completely dissolved.
3. Pour sauce mixture to the pan, stir and as soon as it comes to boil reduce the heat and simmer for five minutes, until the sauce thickens. Serve immediately with cooked rice or noodles.

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Vegan traditional Greek Easter magiritsa – mushroom, greens and leek soup - Βέγκαν, πικάντικη μαγειρίτσα με μανιτάρια και αρωματικά χορταρικά - Veganinathens.com

Vegan traditional Greek Easter soup with mushrooms, greens and leeks

Well, I have no idea how do people in other countries celebrate Easter, but Greeks definitely pay a lot attention to that. It is considered so important that its celebration is prepared throughout the Holy Week. For example on Holy Wednesday we bake Greek Easter cookies, on Holy Thursday non-vegans dye eggs red, on Holy Saturday the dinner that takes place after midnight is prepared. One essential dish is the traditional Greek Easter soup, which is called “magiritsa”. This soup is supposed to highlight the end of the Lent and it is eaten usually after the Pasqua midnight.

Although the traditional recipe is anything but vegan –I don’t even want to mention what it is made of- Greek vegans and vegetarians, prepare a cruelty-free but super-tasty version of this dish with mushrooms. Today I cooked my vegan version of the traditional magiritsa with a variety of mushrooms, green leafy vegetables, leeks, hot pepper and spices for a more authentic taste.

Traditionally the soup is “thickened” with the well-known “avgolemono” -a sauce made of eggs and lemon juice. Instead of that, I added creaminess and even more taste to my dish with a combination of tahini, corn flour and nutritional yeast.

So, whether religious or not give this filling starter a try! It is so yummy and warming that one may want to enjoy it more often than just Easter.

Vegan traditional Greek Easter magiritsa – mushroom, greens and leek soup - Βέγκαν, πικάντικη μαγειρίτσα με μανιτάρια και αρωματικά χορταρικά - Veganinathens.com

Ingredients

  •  750 g fresh mushrooms (I used oyster as well as white and brown button mushrooms)
  •  2 medium leeks, chopped
  •  5 medium spring onions, chopped
  •  3 tbsp rice
  •  ¼ cup olive oil
  •  200g lettuce leaves coarsely chopped (1 medium lettuce)
  •  200 g chards, coarsely chopped (1 bunch)
  •  1 bell red pepper, chopped
  •  1 cup dill, chopped
  •  ½ cup white wine
  •  3 cups vegetable broth (or water)
  •  1 tsp dry, hot chili pepper flakes
  •  1 tsp ground cumin
  •  1 tsp curry powder
  •  salt and freshly ground pepper

For the lemon and tahini sauce (tahinolemono)

  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 tsp corn flour
  • ¼ cup lemon juice

Vegan traditional Greek Easter magiritsa – mushroom, greens and leek soup - Βέγκαν, πικάντικη μαγειρίτσα με μανιτάρια και αρωματικά χορταρικά - Vegan in Athens

Method

  1. Wipe the mushrooms thoroughly with a damp cloth and cut into pieces.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and pour the onions and leeks chopped. Sauté lightly and add the mushrooms. Increase heat, add the wine and let cook for 5 minutes
  3. Add the lettuce, chard and dill and stir until wilted. Add the broth (or water), the salt and the spices and simmer for about 20 minutes over low heat. About ten minutes before removing from heat, add the rice and stir.
  4. Prepare the “tahinolemono”: In a bowl, mix the lemon juice, 2-3 spoons of broth, the nutritional yeast, corn flour and the tahini paste, stir well, pour in the soup and bring to boil. After 1 minute turn off the heat. Serve hot with a sprinkle of lemon juice and maybe an extra touch of hot pepper.

Vegan traditional Greek Easter magiritsa – mushroom, greens and leek soup - Βέγκαν, πικάντικη μαγειρίτσα με μανιτάρια και αρωματικά χορταρικά - Vegan in Athens

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