zucchini

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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Μπριάμ φούρνου ουράνιο τόξο - Rainbow Greek Vegan Briam - Vegan in Athens

Traditional Rainbow Greek Briam

Briam recipe is a famous and delicious vegan Mediterranean recipe, the success of which is based almost entirely on the quality of the ingredients we use. Briam is an example of how freshly picked summer vegetables mixed with herbs, spices, salt and olive oil can be transformed into a mouthwatering summertime dish that everyone will love.

Μπριάμ φούρνου ουράνιο τόξο - Rainbow Greek Vegan Briam - Vegan in Athens

When I have the time, I like to arrange the sliced vegetables in a beautiful, colorful, rainbow-like spiral and then add a generous amount of olive oil, garlic, thyme and parsley. Of course when my time is limited, I just mix all the vegetables, herbs and spices in the pan! It’s just as tasty! My secret to make this vegetable bake mouthwatering, melting in the mouth is to bake it in a baking pan or a casserole with a lid. In that way, all the vegetables are baked evenly in their natural juices without the need to add extra water and they become soft, tender and delicious. Usually we like to eat this dish with a slightly fermented, homemade vegan white cheese or with our favorite vegan tyrokafteri (spicy vegan cheese salad).

Ingredients

  • 3 aubergines of medium size
  • 3 large zucchini
  • 3 bell peppers (choose different colors, eg green, red, yellow)
  • 3 large onions
  • 3 large potatoes, peeled
  • 3 large carrots, peeled
  • 3 large tomatoes
  • 2 cloves of garlic crushed
  • 1 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 sprig of fresh thyme
  • ½ – 1 cup olive oil (according to our tastes and habits)
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 tsp heaped salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp heaped curry powder (alternatively use cumin)
  • 1 tbsp. prepared mustard

Method

1. Slice all vegetables with a knife or a vegetable slicer in round slices about one centimeter thick. Lightly salt the eggplants and leave them in a colander for about thirty minutes (to drain the bitter compounds).
2. Arrange the vegetables alternately starting from the edge of the pan and going to the center, if using a round or oval baking pan. If you want you can also use a square baking tray, creating rainbow strips from one end of the tray to the other! The arrangement I like to do is: 2 slices of eggplant – 2 slices of zucchini – 2 slices of potato – 1 slice of tomato – 2 peppers rings – 1 slice of onion. The carrots slices are too small so I just add them in several places in between and above the layers to fill the gaps and add colour!
3. In a bowl, mix the olive oil, salt, mustard, garlic and spices well and pour over the vegetables. Sprinkle with parsley and thyme (if available), cover with the lid and bake at 220 oC for 1 1/2 hour or until the vegetables soften and get a nice color.
Note: In case your pan has no lid, cover with a foil and bake for 1 ½ hour. Then remove the foil and bake for 30 more minutes until they get a nice, appetizing color.

Μπριάμ φούρνου ουράνιο τόξο - Rainbow Greek Vegan Briam - Vegan in Athens

 

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Τάρτα με φρέσκα κολοκυθάκια, βασιλικό και αμύγδαλα - Vegan in Athens

Zucchini, basil and almond tart

Tarts –sweet or savory- are some of my favorite dishes, as long as they combine a crunchy, taste crust with a rich, creamy filling, enriched with all the seasonal produce.

When I make tarts, I often try to experiment with many different ingredients instead of using “ready-to-bake” pie crusts or the classic “butter-flour- cold water” recipe, in order to explore healthier but yet tasty variations.

As far as it concerns the filling, the adventure begins right here! Depending on the season and the ingredients available, we can create small miracles, without any animal ingredient.

Zucchini, basil and almond tart - Veganinathens.com

So today, I decided to make this zucchini tart for our lunch, with the freshest, tender zucchini I got this morning from the farmers market. In order to highlight the summer character of this dish I decided to add fresh basil leaves.

For the pie crust I mixed ground almonds, white and whole wheat flour and olive oil instead of butter. To make things easier, I added some baking powder into the dough, so as to avoid the pre-cooking of the crust and save some time.

In a recipe like this, nothing could go wrong! It is simply delicious!

Τάρτα με φρέσκα κολοκυθάκια, βασιλικό και αμύγδαλα - Vegan in Athens

Ingredients

For the crust

  • ¾ cups (115 gr) all purpose flour
  • ¾ cups (115 gr) whole wheat flour
  • ¾ cup (100 gr) raw unblanched almonds
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup (80 ml) olive oil
  • ½ cup (100 ml) cold water
  • ¾ cup (100 gr) raw unblanched almonds blended into flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder

For the filling

  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ kg fresh courgettes sliced
  • 1 medium sized onion diced
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 1 clove of garlic pureed
  • 1 tsp carry powder
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

Τάρτα με φρέσκα κολοκυθάκια, βασιλικό και αμύγδαλα - Vegan in Athens

sunflower seed cream cheese

  • ½ cup skinned sunflower seeds soaked for 2-4 hours
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice or apple-cider vinegar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup diced and skinned boiled potatoes
  • 1 handful fresh basil leaves chopped

on top

  • 2 courgettes sliced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil leaves chopped
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

Τάρτα με φρέσκα κολοκυθάκια, βασιλικό και αμύγδαλα - Vegan in Athens

Method

  1. For the crust, mix water with olive oil, salt, baking powder and add gradually almond flour, all purpose flour and whole-wheat flour while stirring spoon to make a soft, non-sticky dough. Knead the dough lightly on a floured surface until smooth.
  2. Form the dough into a ball, place in a bowl, cover with clear film or greaseproof paper and chill for half an hour or more.  Τάρτα με φρέσκα κολοκυθάκια, βασιλικό και αμύγδαλα - Vegan in Athens
  3. For the filling, put olive oil in a large pan and sauté the onion for 1 minute. Add the courgette slices and the garlic and cook for one more minute. Pour the wine, salt and pepper and carry powder, lower the heat and cook for 5-10 minutes until the vegetables soften a little bit. Turn of the heat and set aside. We will need the broth that is left in the pan later.
  4. For the sunflower seed cheese, drain the sunflower seeds and blend them with the salt, lemon juice and water in the blender for 2 minutes or until a thick paste is formed.
  5. In a bowl add the cooked potatoes with the broth that is left in the pan and with a fork puree the potatoes. Mix well with the sunflower seed cheese.
  6. Add in the mixture the chopped basil and the cooked zucchini. Mix well carefully, as we want the courgette slices to remain as intact as possible.
  7. Take the dough out of the fridge and using a rolling pin, roll out the dough on a lightly floured greaseproof paper to a thickness of 1 cm. If you want you can roll the dough between two parchment papers, but I find it easier to use only one. It depends on everyone’s personal technique. The thing is that there is no easier way to make a pie crust since after you’ ve rolled out the dough you can use the sheet to help you turn the dough over into the tart pan. I used a tart pan of about 22 cm diameter. Fit the dough against the bottom and sides of the pan and with a knife cut the dough even with the top of the pan.
  8. Add the filling carefully –to avoid breaking the underlying pie crust- and smooth the surface with a spatula.Τάρτα με φρέσκα κολοκυθάκια, βασιλικό και αμύγδαλα - Vegan in Athens
  9. For the cover, combine the zucchini slices with the olive oil, basil leaves, salt and pepper and put on top of the pie forming concentric circles until the top of the pie has been covered.
  10. Sprinkle the pie with a little bit water and cook in pre-heated oven at 200oC for 50 minutes or until golden brown.
  11. Let it cool for 15 minutes and serve.

Τάρτα με φρέσκα κολοκυθάκια, βασιλικό και αμύγδαλα - Vegan in Athens

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