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Vegetarian Eggplant Moussaka Cheese in Creamy Rose Sauce

5 from 1 vote
Oshrit Abergil – @oshritabergil
Comment
Fabulous without the meat: Vegetarian eggplant moussaka with lots of melted cheese!

INGREDIENTS
 

5-6 servings:

Rose sauce:

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C).
  • Place the eggplant pieces on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt. Bake the eggplant for about 15 minutes until they turn golden brown.

Rose sauce:

  • Sauté the tomatoes in butter, add tomato paste and spices, pour in heavy whipping cream, and simmer for about 5 minutes over low heat.
  • Assemble the dish: Place 5 dollops of rose sauce in a baking dish. Place a slice of eggplant on top of each dollop. Crumble Feta cheese, sprinkle Mozzarella cheese, and spoon a tablespoon of rose sauce over each eggplant slice. Top with another slice of eggplant and spoon the remaining sauce between the eggplants. Sprinkle with shredded Mozzarella cheese and bake in the preheated oven at 220°C (425°F) for about 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted.

MY NOTES

vegetarian eggplant moussaka recipe
Credit: Oshrit Abergil

Can I use other types of cheese in this vegetarian eggplant moussaka dish?

While Mozzarella and Feta cheeses provide distinct flavors to this dish, you can experiment with various cheese combinations to suit your taste preferences. Consider substitutes like ricotta for a creamier texture, or Parmesan for a sharper taste. Gouda or cheddar can add a savory depth, while goat cheese offers a tangy twist. Mixing cheeses like Fontina with its melting qualities or Gruyère for a nutty flavor can elevate the dish further.

vegetarian eggplant moussaka recipe
Credit: Oshrit Abergil

Can I prepare the eggplant in advance and assemble the dish later?

Yes, you can prepare the eggplant slices in advance to streamline the assembly process later. After slicing and salting the eggplant, you can store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. When you’re ready to assemble the vegetarian eggplant moussaka, simply proceed with the recipe instructions, baking the pre-prepared eggplant slices until golden brown. This make-ahead approach not only saves time but also allows the flavors to develop further as the eggplant absorbs the seasonings. Just ensure the eggplant slices are thoroughly dried before storing to prevent excess moisture accumulation.

vegetarian eggplant moussaka recipe
Credit: Oshrit Abergil

What can I substitute for heavy whipping cream in the rose sauce?

If heavy whipping cream isn’t available, several alternatives can provide similar richness. Coconut cream offers a dairy-free option with a subtle tropical flavor. Greek yogurt or sour cream can impart a tangy creaminess to the sauce. Cashew cream, made by blending soaked cashews with water, creates a silky texture. For a lighter option, low-fat milk or a mixture of milk and butter can be used, though the sauce may be thinner.

How can I make this recipe vegan?

To make this recipe vegan, you can easily swap out the dairy-based ingredients for plant-based alternatives. Instead of Mozzarella and Feta cheese, opt for vegan cheese varieties made from nuts or soy. For the creamy rose sauce, use vegan butter or margarine, and substitute heavy whipping cream with coconut cream or a dairy-free cream alternative like soy or almond cream. Ensure the tomato paste and other seasonings are vegan-friendly.

vegetarian eggplant moussaka recipe
Credit: Oshrit Abergil

Can I grill the eggplant instead of baking it?

Yes, grilling the eggplant is a delicious alternative to baking and imparts a smoky flavor to the dish. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat and brush the eggplant slices with olive oil on both sides to prevent sticking. Grill the slices for about 3-4 minutes per side until they develop grill marks and are tender. You can also add a sprinkle of salt and pepper for extra flavor. Grilling allows for quicker cooking and adds a charred dimension to the eggplant, enhancing its overall taste. Just ensure to watch closely to prevent burning and adjust the cooking time as needed.

vegetarian eggplant moussaka recipe
Credit: Oshrit Abergil

How long will the vegetarian eggplant moussaka leftovers last in the refrigerator?

Leftovers of this vegetarian eggplant moussaka can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Make sure to allow the leftovers to cool completely before transferring them to the container. When reheating, you can use a microwave for individual portions or reheat the entire dish in the oven at a low temperature to maintain its texture and flavors. Keep in mind that the longer it sits in the refrigerator, the more the flavors meld together, potentially enhancing the taste. However, always check for any signs of spoilage before consuming leftovers, and discard if there are any doubts.

vegetarian eggplant moussaka recipe
Credit: Oshrit Abergil

Can I freeze this dish for later consumption?

Yes, you can freeze this dish for later consumption. It’s best to assemble the moussaka but not bake it before freezing. Wrap the assembled dish tightly with plastic wrap and then aluminum foil to prevent freezer burn. Alternatively, you can portion it into individual servings for easier reheating. Frozen moussaka can be stored for up to 2-3 months in the freezer. When ready to eat, thaw it overnight in the refrigerator before baking according to the recipe instructions. Freezing may slightly alter the texture, but the flavors will remain delicious, making it a convenient option for meal prep or leftovers.

Can I add additional vegetables to this moussaka?

Absolutely, adding extra vegetables to this moussaka can elevate its flavor and nutritional content. Consider including thinly sliced zucchini or yellow squash for a touch of sweetness and texture. Bell peppers, mushrooms, and onions can contribute depth and richness to the dish. Spinach or kale add a boost of greens and vitamins. Layering these vegetables between the eggplant slices and cheese creates a colorful and hearty moussaka. Just ensure to sauté or roast firmer vegetables before assembling to soften them. Feel free to customize the recipe with your favorite veggies to create a moussaka that suits your taste preferences and dietary needs.

vegetarian eggplant moussaka recipe
Credit: Oshrit Abergil

What other herbs can I use to enhance the flavor of the rose sauce?

To enhance the flavor of the rose sauce, you can experiment with various herbs and spices to suit your taste preferences. Basil offers a sweet and slightly peppery note, while oregano adds a robust earthiness. Thyme contributes a subtle, floral aroma, and parsley brings a fresh, grassy flavor. Rosemary can infuse the sauce with a fragrant, pine-like taste, while marjoram provides a mild, sweet undertone. Additionally, a pinch of dried red pepper flakes can introduce a hint of heat, and garlic or onion powder can add depth to the sauce’s flavor profile. Adjust the seasoning to achieve the desired taste balance.

vegetarian eggplant moussaka recipe
Credit: Oshrit Abergil

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