This vegan moussaka recipe was a work in progress for weeks until we got the perfected method just right! Layers of roasted eggplant meld perfectly with a hearty tomato lentil filling, which is topped with a show-stopping roasted garlic cashew bechamel.
Flavor is abundant here despite the 10 simple ingredients required. Let us show you how it’s done!
Origins of Moussaka
Moussaka is a popular dish in Greece and beyond. It’s typically made with layers of ground meat, eggplant, and a bechamel sauce. But other variations of the dish with different ingredients also exist and vary by region.
The exact origin of moussaka is unknown, but it’s believed to have Arab roots and may have been inspired by a Levantine dish called musakhkan. The addition of a French bechamel sauce is thought to be the contribution of Greek chef Nikolas Tselementes in the early 1900s.
Our version is not traditional but is a plant-based take on the delicious concept of layering roasted eggplant, a hearty filling, and a rich, creamy bechamel sauce. You can learn more about the history of moussaka and find a traditional recipe here.
This vegan moussaka consists of three layers: 1) roasted eggplants slices, 2) a lentil tomato filling, and 3) a roasted garlic bechamel sauce.
Before roasting the eggplant, we sprinkle it generously with salt and allow it to sit in a colander or bowl. This helps draw out the moisture so that once roasted, it’s perfectly fork tender with sweet, caramelized edges.
The filling starts with sautéing onion and garlic. Next come the lentils and tomatoes, which are simmered with salt, pepper, oregano, and optional nutmeg.
But the star of the show is the roasted garlic bechamel. Roasting garlic turns it from sharp and pungent to mild and sweet. When blended with cashews, olive oil, salt, nutritional yeast, and water, it becomes a creamy, knock-out sauce.
With the three layers ready, it’s time to assemble. The lentil tomato filling goes between slices of roasted eggplant, then everything’s topped with the bechamel. Once baked, the top becomes golden and slightly caramelized. Swoon!
We hope you LOVE this vegan moussaka! It’s:
& SO delicious!
It’s a hearty entrée perfect for meal prep or impressing dinner guests. It would pair especially well with our Grain-Free Tabbouleh Salad, 5-Minute Green Salad, and/or your favorite roasted vegetables (like Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, carrots, or potatoes).
More Delicious Eggplant Recipes
- Moroccan Lentil-Stuffed Eggplant
- Eggplant Lasagna Roll-Ups
- Crispy Gluten-Free Eggplant Parmesan
- Moroccan-Spiced Eggplant and Tomato Stew
If you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #minimalistbaker on Instagram. Cheers, friends!
The BEST Vegan Moussaka
ROASTED GARLIC (for bechamel)
- 1 head garlic, average size
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 2 small to medium eggplant
- ~2 Tbsp salt (for sweating the eggplant)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil (if oil-free, omit)
- 1 cup raw cashews, soaked
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast, plus more to taste
- 1/4 tsp sea salt, plus more to taste
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg (optional)
- 1 Tbsp oil (if oil-free, sub twice the amount in water or vegetable broth)
- 1 cup white or yellow onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 (15-oz) can green or brown lentils, drained and rinsed (1 can yields ~1 1/2 cups cooked)
- 1 (15-oz) can crushed tomatoes
- 1/4 tsp each sea salt + pepper, plus more to taste
- 1 tsp dried oregano (or 2 tsp fresh)
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg (optional)
- Start by soaking cashews in very hot water for 30 minutes. In the meantime, move on to the next steps.
- ROASTED GARLIC: Heat oven to 400 degrees F (204 C). Slice off the very top of the head of garlic and set on a piece of foil. Drizzle the top with oil and wrap to conceal. Then roast directly on a center oven rack for ~50 minutes to 1 hour, or until the cloves are tender, fragrant, and light golden brown.
- EGGPLANT: Slice eggplant vertically, 1/4 inch thick. Then salt slices on both sides and add to a colander set over a mixing bowl or in the sink (to catch moisture). Let rest 30 minutes to draw out moisture and reduce bitterness. After 30 minutes, rinse and press between 2 clean towels to pat dry.
- Transfer to 2 large baking sheets lined with parchment paper and brush both sides with olive oil (either spray or use a pastry brush). Then bake at 400 degrees F (204 C) for 15-20 minutes or until slightly golden brown.
- BECHAMEL: Drain your soaked cashews and add to a small blender along with roasted garlic (cool slightly then squeeze up from the bottom to the top to remove cloves), olive oil, nutritional yeast, salt, water, and nutmeg (optional). Blend on high until creamy and smooth.
- Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more salt to taste or nutritional yeast for cheesiness. Set aside.
- LENTIL FILLING: Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add oil and onions and sauté until golden brown and slightly caramelized — ~5 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- Add garlic and sauté for 3-4 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat as needed if browning too quickly.
- Add lentils and crushed tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper, oregano, and nutmeg (optional). Simmer for 15 minutes, uncovered (if splattering, lower heat and cover with lid but crack to allow steam to escape). Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more oregano for herbal notes, nutmeg for nuttiness, or salt or pepper to taste.
- ASSEMBLY: To an 8×8 dish, add 1/3 of the eggplant slices (overlapping slightly if needed), then top with 1/2 of the lentil mixture and spread into an even layer. Then top with another 1/3 of the eggplant. Then add the remaining lentil mixture, and top with the remaining 1/3 of the eggplant. Pour over the bechamel and smooth into an even layer.
- Bake at 400F (204 C) for 25-30 minutes, or until the edges are bubbly and the top appears slightly dry and golden brown on the edges.
- Let cool for 10 minutes before serving. Store cooled leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days, or in the freezer for up to 1 month.