Moussaka: A vegetarian version

by Chef Daniel Morduchowicz

Over the years I have enjoyed making this Greek dish, featuring layers of eggplant and sauce, topped with a bechamel crust.

- Chef Daniel Morduchowicz


Main Course
Calories Per Serving
Prep Time
20 minutes
Cook Time
2 hours
15 minutes
Total Time
2.5 hours


  • 3 medium eggplants
  • 4 medium Yukon gold potatoes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
For the sauce:
  • 1 pound crimini or white button mushrooms
  • 1 can good quality Italian tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 or 3 sticks of cinnamon
  • 1 pinch ground allspice
  • 1 small pinch ground cloves
  • salt to taste
For the topping
  1. 3 cups whole milk
  2. 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  3. 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  4. 2 eggs
  5. 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  6. salt to taste


For the potato base and eggplant layers
  1. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  2. Peel potatoes and cut into 1/4 inch slices.
  3. These can be cooked in a number of ways. My preferred method is to steam them, since it is relatively quick, allowing the potatoes to retain a lot of their flavor (boiling them would make the potatoes loose their flavor in the water.)
  4. Peel the eggplants and slice into 1/4 inch slices.
  5. Place these slices in a bowl and toss around with some olive oil and salt.
  6. Place in a parchment lined sheet tray, making sure they do not overlap.
  7. Place in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until they are fork tender.
  1. Dice the onion very small.
  2. Mince the garlic.
  3. Wash the mushrooms just before using them.
  4. Mince into small pieces to resemble ground beef.
  5. Sweat the onion at low heat with a bit of olive oil and some salt until soft and translucent.
  6. Add the minced garlic to the pot and cook briefly until fragrant.
  7. Place the minced mushrooms in the pot. Add a pinch of salt and cook at medium high temperature until they have released a lot of their liquid (they will reduce in size considerably.)
  8. Add the tomatoes and all the spices.
  9. Cook uncovered for 20 minutes, until the tomatoes turn sweeter and less acid.
  10. Adjust for salt and set aside.
For the bechamel 
  1. Melt the butter in a medium pot at low heat. You do not want to brown it.
  2. Add flour little by little whisking to dissolve.
  3. Add the milk and whisk constantly to prevent burning,  making sure to dissolve all the lumps.
  4. Turn up heat to medium until it thickens.
  5. Add cheese and mix. Turn off the heat.
  6. Place a 1/2 cup of the sauce in a separate bowl.
  7. Mix in the eggs into this bowl. This is a technique called tempering, in which you bring heat the eggs slowly without curdling.
  8. Place this mixture back into the rest of the bechamel, mix well and get ready for assembly.
  1. Place the cooked potatoes in the bottom of a medium size casserole dish.
  2. Top with 1/3  of the sauce.
  3. Top with one layer of egpplant.
  4. Add another layer with 1/3 of the sauce.
  5. Top with another layer of egpplant.
  6. Add the rest of the sauce.
  7. Top with the bechamel sauce.
Cooking and Resting
  1. Place in the hot oven for 45 minutes, or until the bechamel has set and turn golden.
  2. Remove from the oven and let rest for at least 10 minutes before cutting, to allow everything to set. Skipping this step will make it difficult to cut nice, even pieces.
  3. Serve as is and enjoy.


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