Vegetarian Moussaka

Cooking time
Serves4 people
Vegetarian Moussaka

This is a deliciously veggie version of Greece’s most famous dish, moussaka. You’ll layer tender strips of roast aubergine and potato with a hearty lentil-based sauce and top with a rich and creamy cheese bechamel sauce, then bake till golden. A hearty, family-friendly meal that'll fill your dinner with Aegean sunshine.


  • 300g dark speckled lentils
  • 1 onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • A handful of thyme
  • 690g passata
  • 500g potatoes
  • 3 aubergines
  • 100g cheddar
  • 50g butter
  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • 500ml full cream milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 eggs

Prep: 25 mins | Cook: 1 hr 20 mins

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1. Tip the lentils into a large bowl, cover with cold water and set aside to soak. Peel and finely chop the onion. Set a large pan on a medium heat and add 1 tbsp olive oil and the onion. Season with salt and pepper. Fry, stirring often, for 6-8 mins till the onion is golden and glossy.
2. Meanwhile, peel and crush the garlic. Add the garlic, ground cumin, oregano and thyme sprigs to the pan and fry, stirring, for 2 mins.
3. Pour in the passata. Top up with 450ml water and stir well to mix. Drain the lentils and add them to the pan. Stir well, then pop a lid on the pan and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for 40 mins, stirring occasionally, till the lentils are tender and the sauce has thickened. Taste and add a pinch more salt, pepper or a pinch of sugar, if needed.
4. While the sauce simmers, preheat your oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas 6. Line two large baking trays or roasting tins with baking paper. Scrub the potatoes – if they're new potatoes, you don't need to peel them but if they're bigger potatoes with tougher skin, it's better to peel them for this dish. Slice the potatoes into ½cm-thick rounds. Spread them out on one tray. Drizzle over 1 tbsp oil. Season with salt and pepper. Turn to coat.
5. Trim the aubergines and slice them into 1cm-thick rounds. Arrange them on the other baking tray. Drizzle over 2 tbsp oil. Season with salt and pepper. Turn the aubergine slices in the oil to coat. Slide the trays into the oven and bake for 20 mins, till the veg are just starting become tender.
6. Meanwhile, coarsely grate the cheddar. Add the butter to a medium-sized pan set on a medium heat. Melt the butter, then tip in the cornflour. Cook, stirring, for 2 mins. Add a splash of the milk. Whisk it into the roux till smooth. Keep adding the milk, a splash at a time, and whisking with each addition till it has all been incorporated and you have a smooth sauce. Drop in the bay leaf. Simmer for 2-3 mins. This is your bechamel sauce.
7. Crack the eggs into a bowl and beat. Add 2 tbsp of the bechamel sauce to the eggs. Whisk together, then pour the egg mix back into the pan. Stir and simmer for 2-3 mins till it has thickened. Take off the heat and add half the grated cheese. Stir till the cheese has melted. Taste and add a pinch of salt and pepper, if needed.
8. To assemble the moussaka, spoon one-third of the lentil sauce into 3-4 ltr ovenproof dish, discarding the thyme sprigs. Top with half the potato and aubergine slices. Spoon over half the remaining lentil sauce and top with the remaining potato and aubergine slices. Top with the last of the lentil sauce. Spoon over the bechamel sauce, discarding the bay leaf. Sprinkle over the remaining cheddar. Bake the for 35-40 mins till golden and bubbling.
9. Let the moussaka cool in the dish for a few mins before serving with green veg or salad on the side
10. Get Ahead
You can assemble the moussaka the night before you want to serve it. Follow the recipe to step 10, assembling the moussaka and sprinkling over the cheddar, then loosely cover with food wrap and store in the fridge. Bake at 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas 6 till golden and bubbling — it may take an extra 10 mins to cook.
11. Love Your Leftovers
The cooked moussaka can be kept in the fridge for up 4 days. Transfer to tubs, seal and store. Reheat in the microwave, or reheat in the oven in an ovenproof dish, till piping hot all the way through. You can also freeze the moussaka for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight before reheating.
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