Easy Eastern European Vegan Moussaka

Ekaterina Smirnova / Getty Images
Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Total: 40 mins
Servings: 6 to 8 servings
Yield: 1 8 x 8-inch casserole
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
265 Calories
13g Fat
24g Carbs
11g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 265
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 13g 17%
Saturated Fat 3g 13%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 564mg 25%
Total Carbohydrate 24g 9%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Total Sugars 10g
Protein 11g
Vitamin C 10mg 51%
Calcium 208mg 16%
Iron 2mg 12%
Potassium 531mg 11%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Greeks aren't the only ones who love moussaka. Croatians, Hungarians, and other Eastern Europeans make it regularly. This recipe for vegan moussaka is from Mark Reinfeld's "The 30 Minute Vegan’s Taste of Europe" (Da Capo Lifelong/Perseus Books Group, 2012). Reinfeld says, "The mother of all Greek dishes and traditionally made with eggplant and tomatoes, versions of this dish are popular in many countries and regions including Turkey, Hungary, Slavic countries, and the Middle East. The Greek version typically includes minced meat and is made with a béchamel sauce. This is a rich and decadent, close to a 30-minute version of a dish that can take hours to prepare. Served warm as well as hot, it’s wonderful with a side of Horta and a salad such as Cucumber "Feta" Salad or mixed wild greens with Toasted Hazelnut Vinaigrette." Compare this recipe to Croatian potato moussaka recipe which is NOT vegan.


For the Moussaka:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 small yellow onion, diced (1 1/4 cups)

  • 4 garlic cloves, pressed or minced

  • 1 small eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes; 3 cups

  • 8 ounces tempeh, diced

  • 3/4 cup red wine, or vegetable stock or water

  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can tomatoes, fire-roasted; or 1 3/4 cups diced and pressed firm tomatoes with juice

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice

  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs

  • 1 cup vegan cheese, grated

For the Béchamel Sauce:

  • 1 1/4 cups soy milk, unsweetened

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 3 tablespoons spelt flour

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, or softened vegan margarine

Steps to Make It

  1. Heat the oven to 425 F. Place the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the eggplant, tempeh, wine, tomatoes, tomato paste, cinnamon, allspice and crushed red pepper flakes, and cook until the eggplant is just soft, about 18 minutes, stirring frequently. You may need to add a small amount of water to prevent sticking. Add the salt and pepper to taste.

  2. Meanwhile, prepare the béchamel sauce. Place the soy milk and salt in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Heat until the milk is just about to boil, about 3 minutes. Lower the heat to low. Create a roux by combining the flour and vegan butter in a small bowl and mixing well. Add this to the soy milk and whisk well until the sauce thickens about 3 minutes.

  3. Transfer the eggplant mixture to a well-oiled 8-inch casserole dish. Evenly sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top. Pour the béchamel sauce on top of the bread crumbs and top with the grated vegan cheese.

  4. Bake until the cheese melts, about 10 minutes. Congratulate yourself for making moussaka before serving it warm.

  5. Note: If you like, you can sweat the eggplant before using in this dish. Slice the eggplant into 1/2-inch cutlets, then slice the cutlets into 1/2-inch cubes. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet or casserole dish and sprinkle liberally with salt. Allow to sit for 20 to 30 minutes before rinsing with water and draining well.

  6. Variations:

  • Alternatively, you can slice the eggplant into 1/4-inch strips and grill them. Instead of mixing in the eggplant with the tempeh layer, you can create a layer of eggplant slices on the bottom of the casserole, which is how the dish is traditionally made.
  • Replace the tempeh with an equal amount of chopped seitan or crumbled extra-firm or super-firm tofu.
  • For a gluten-free version, make sure to use.