Vegetarian Moussaka with Lentils

This vegetarian moussaka with lentils is absolutely worth the extra effort and time needed to make it. With layers of delicious lentil and chickpea stew, potatoes and aubergines, topped with a cheesy white sauce, it is the ultimate in wholesome comfort food!


veggie lentil and chickpea moussaka served on a plate

Moussaka has a long history, but the more modernized European version is probably the one you are most familiar with. It typically has layers of potato, aubergine and a meat sauce all deliciously topped with a bechamel layer. But in today’s world, where many of us enjoy more plant-based dishes, I thought it was high time there was an equally delicious alternative for the non-meat eaters.

This vegetarian lentil moussaka will not disappoint. However, it is perhaps not one for a mid-week meal when you’re pushed for time. It may be better suited for when you have a couple of hours to immerse yourself in the kitchen. Which for me is one of life’s little joys, well apart from the washing up that comes with it of course!

Don’t be put off by the list of ingredients and instructions for this recipe, I promise you the extra time and effort are really worth it. Also, most of the ingredients are pretty standard cupboard or freezer staples, there is nothing remotely fancy or unusual in this one.

vegetarian moussaka with lentils with a square serving being lifted out

The story behind this Vegetarian Moussaka with Lentils

The Moussaka that I am most familiar with is the Greek version which is traditionally layers of minced meat, aubergine and potato, topped with a thick layer of white sauce. We have been lucky enough to have a few holidays in Greece and despite the boiling heat I could never resist ordering and eating the moussaka. It is such a comfort food that is so full of flavour.

However, on a recent holiday in the UK, we bought a vegetarian option from Marks & Spencers (perhaps we may have been missing the beautiful Greek sunshine). But actually, we all really enjoyed it. Therefore the gauntlet was laid down by the family to recreate a WHK vegetarian moussaka and I think you’ll agree it’s pretty damn delicious.

As you have almost all of your main food groups in one dish, we simply served ours with extra greens. Why not try it with some roasted cabbage wedges


The Ultimate in wholesome comfort food

The ingredients used in this vegetarian moussaka with lentils recipe really aren’t fancy at all. Even though there are a lot of ingredients in this recipe, most of the ingredients are fridge, freezer or cupboard staples. I always think that the best comfort food is made with hearty, simple ingredients without all the fancy extras. And this vegetarian moussaka ticks all the boxes.

What is Vegetarian Moussaka Made of?

The simple heroes in this recipe are the layers of potato and, aubergine combined with the delicious lentil and chickpea stew. These simple ingredients are packed full of fibre, nutrients and minerals making this a wonderfully healthy and hearty dish.

However last but by no means least comes the indulgent white sauce, which just adds that extra layer of creamy wonderfulness to the meal. I also like to add some extra grated cheese before cooking!

veggie lentil and chickpea moussaka with a square serving being lifted out

How to make your Moussaka Gluten-Free?

In order to make this a gluten-free meal, you would need to either make a gluten-free white sauce or use a shop bought pre-made version such as ASDA Free From White Lasagne Pasta Sauce.

Here are a couple of links to some trusted recipes I have tried in the past:


How to serve your Vegetarian Moussaka With Lentils

vegetarian moussaka with lentils  served on a plate

Moussaka is a hearty main dish, which has a really good balance of protein, carbs, and veg. So you may prefer to eat yours as it comes. However, if like us you like a bit extra on the side then here are a few ideas:

  • A simple mixed leaf salad
  • A simple but wonderfully tasty HERBY GREEN BEAN SALAD
  • Lemon Roasted Potatoes – just combine some lemon juice and olive oil and coat the potatoes before roasting…..amazing!
  • Tray of mixed ROASTED GREEN VEGETABLES (you may just want to leave out the pesto)
  • A serveing of ZESTY PAN FRIED COURGETTES
  • Wilted spinach with lemon and garlic.
  • Crusty bread and butter to mop up all those lovely juices!

What you will need for the Vegetarian Moussaka with Lentils

  • Aubergines
    • A key ingredient for any moussaka
    • Are nutrient-dense which means that they contain a good amount of vitamins, minerals and fibre
  • Potatoes
    • good source of many vitamins and minerals
    • The other key ingredient to a delicious moussaka
  • Red and Green lentils
    • Great source of protein, fibre and B vitamins
    • Also helps to thicken the sauce
  • Extra Virgin Olive oil
    • One of my favourites
    • Rich in healthy monounsaturated fats
  • Red onion
    • Bring an essential flavour and gentle sweetness
    • Frozen chopped onions work brilliantly as well
  • Carrots
    • A particularly good source of beta carotene, fibre, vitamin K1, potassium, and antioxidants
    • Adds some texture to the stew
  • Red pepper
    • Adds a lovely sweetness to the tomato-based sauce plus a good hit of vitamin C
  • Garlic
    • Use fresh or frozen
    • You may want to increase the amount used depending on how garlicky you like your dishes
  • Tomato purée
    • Adds an extra intense tomatoey kick into the stew
  • Tinned chopped tomatoes
    • When heated they release more antioxidants.
    • They are a brilliant source of the antioxidant lycopene, which has been linked to many health benefits
    • Also a great source of vitamin C and K
  • Chickpeas
    • A nutritional superstar rich in plant-based protein, full of fibre and nutrients
    • Give a nutty taste and a nice grainy texture to the dish
  • Brown sugar replacement
    • Adds sweetness to offset the acidity of the tomatoes
    • If you don’t have a brown sugar replacement just use whatever white sweetener you have
    • You could of course also use sugar
  • Ground Cinnamon, Paprika, Bayleaf
    • They add a subtle spice to this dish and flavours that characterise a traditional Greek Moussaka! 
  • Parsley and Oregano
    • Staple herbs that I always keep either as frozen or dried
    • Both are perfect flavour additions to this moussaka

For the White Sauce:

  • Butter
    • I prefer to use unsalted
  • Plain flour
    • You could also use a wholewheat version which adds a nuttier flavour to your sauce
  • Milk
    • I use whole milk
  • Black pepper
    • Essential flavouring
  • Hard cheese
    • Such as Parmigiano-Reggiano, Kefalotyri or any of your favourite hard cheeses

How to make Vegetarian Moussaka with Lentils

The first part of making this meal is to prepare your 4 main elements separately – The aubergines, potato, lentil stew and white sauce.

4-part preparation


Start by preparing the stew. In a large saucepan gently fry the onion, pepper, carrot and garlic for around 10 minutes or until beautifully soft. Stir occasionally. Then add the tomato puree, spices and herbs. Mix well and heat for a further 2 minutes. Now add the lentils, tinned tomatoes, and chickpeas, including the water, sweetener or sugar and mix well. Add a further 1/2 can of water, then season really well with salt and pepper and stir to combine. Leave the stew to simmer away gently, stirring occasionally so the lentils don’t stick for around – 25 minutes. You may want to add a little more water if needed, but don’t make it too wet as we want this stew to be lovely and thick.


Whist your stew is thickening you can prepare the vegetable layers:

The Aubergines – lay the aubergine slices on baking trays and roast in a preheated oven 200C/180C Fan for 10 minutes. Remove them from the oven, turn them over and roast them for a further 10 minutes. Once roasted leave them to one side to cool.


The Potatoes – place the sliced potatoes into a pan of boiling water and cook for 5 minutes. Drain and leave them to steam in the colander.


Lastly, you need to make the white sauce. On a low heat, melt the butter gently in a saucepan. Add the flour and mix well. I like to use a whisk to stop any lumps from forming. Once a roux has formed (a thick paste) slowly add the milk and keep whisking continuously until all the milk has been added. Leave the sauce on a low heat and continue to whisk gently. You should feel the sauce thicken which should only take a few minutes. Once you have reached your desired consistency, remove from the heat and leave to one side

Assembly

Now you are ready to assemble the Moussaka
Preheat the oven to 200C/180C and in an ovenproof dish, measuring 9inchx9inch / 24cmx24cm add half of your stew, but don’t forget to remove your bay leaf! Next, add a layer of potatoes and then a layer of aubergine. Repeat this again, by adding the remainder of your stew, another potato layer and then an aubergine layer. Finally, add the white sauce, topping it with the grated hard cheese.

Cooking


Cook your assembled Moussaka in the preheated oven for 50 minutes. It should be bubbling with a beautiful crunchy golden top.

vegetarian moussaka with lentils served on a plate

Diabetes Note

I know a meal like this where the carbs are part of the dish can be tricky to count, but don’t let that put you off. All you have to do is calculate the totals of the ingredients that you would typically count for and then divide that by your serving size.

The serving size of 4 is very generous in this dish

Carb Counting

The overall carb count for a serving of the vegetarian lentil and chickpea moussaka based on the ingredients we would count is:

  • 600g of Potatoes = 105g of carbs
  • 60g of White flour = 48.5g of carbs
  • 400ml of Semi-Skimmed Milk = 18.8g of carbs

Now add all the carbs together – 105+48.5+18.8= 172.3

Finally divide this by the serving size, 4 – 172.3/4 = 43g of carb per portion

Please note this carb count amount per portion is based on the standard ingredients listed above and may differ depending on what you use and how much you choose to eat.


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Vegetarian Lentil and Chickpea Moussaka

Vegetarian Lentil and Chickpea Moussaka

Recipe by Michelle Rorke

This vegetarian lentil and chickpea moussaka has layers of delicious lentil and chickpea stew, potatoes and aubergines, all topped with an indulgent cheesy white sauce.

Course: MainCuisine: GreekDifficulty: Intermediate
5.0 from 1 vote
Servings

4

servings
Prep time

1

hour 

10

minutes
Cooking time

50

minutes
Total time

2

hours 
Cook Mode

Keep the screen of your device on

Ingredients

  • 4 medium aubergines, sliced into rounds about 1cm thick

  • 600 g potatoes, sliced into rounds about 1cm thick

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • 100 g dried red lentils

  • 100 g dried green lentils

  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped

  • 2 medium carrots, finely chopped

  • 1 large red pepper, finely chopped

  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped

  • 1 tbsp tomato purée

  • 1 can chopped tomatoes, 400g/14oz

  • 1 can chickpeas, 400g/14oz

  • 1 tsp brown sweetener/sugar

  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 tsp paprika

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh/frozen parsley

  • 1 tsp dried oregano

  • For the white sauce:
  • 60 g butter

  • 60 g plain flour

  • 400 ml milk

  • black pepper

  • 100 g hard cheese like Parmigiano, grated

Directions for the prep of the aubergine, potato and stew

  • Lay the aubergine slices on baking trays and roast in a preheated oven 200C/180C Fan for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, turn them over and roast them for a further 10 minutes.
    Remove from the oven and leave to one side.
  • While the aubergines are roasting, place the sliced potatoes into a pan of boiling water and cook for 5 minutes. Drain them and leave them to steam in the colander.
  • Next in a large saucepan gently fry the onion, pepper, carrot and garlic for around 10 minutes or until beautifully soft. Stir occasionally
  • Then add the tomato puree, spices and herbs. Mix well and heat for a further 2 minutes
  • Now add the lentils, tinned tomatoes, and chickpeas, including the water, sweetener or sugar and mix well.
    Add a further 1/2 can of water, then season really well with salt and pepper and stir to combine.
  • Leave the stew to simmer away gently, stirring occasionally so the lentils don’t stick for around – 25 minutes. You may want to add a little more water if needed, but don’t make it too wet as we want this stew to be lovely and thick.
  • While the stew is cooking you can make the white sauce
  • Directions For the white sauce:
  • On a low heat, melt the butter gently in a saucepan.
  • Add the flour and mix well. I like to use a whisk to stop any lumps from forming.
  • Once a roux has formed (a thick paste) slowly add the milk and keep whisking continuously until all the milk has been added.
  • Leave the sauce on a low heat and continue to whisk gently. You should feel the sauce thicken. This should only take a few minutes.
  • Remove from the heat when you have reached a thick consistency and leave to one side
  • To assemble the Moussaka
  • Preheat the oven to 200C/180C
  • In an ovenproof dish, measuring 9inchx9inch / 24cmx24cm add half of your stew.
    Don’t forget to remove your bay leaf!
  • Next, add a layer of potatoes and then a layer of aubergine
  • Repeat this again, by adding the remainder of your stew, another potato layer and then an aubergine layer.
  • Finally, add the white sauce, topping it with the grated hard cheese.
  • Cook in the preheated oven for 50 minutes. It should be bubbling with a beautiful crunchy golden top

Tips and Notes

  • To make this a gluten-free meal you would need to use a GF recipe for the white sauce or use a premade shop version
  • Diabetes Note -A meal like this where the carbs are part of the dish can be tricky to count, but don’t let that put you off. All you have to do is calculate the totals of the ingredients that you would typically count for and then divide that by your serving size. See above for more carb counting info.
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