This is a vegetarian comfort food dish at its very best! A simple Veggie Moussaka layered with aubergine, potato, courgette and red lentils as an alternative to the classic meaty dish (you won’t miss the meat in this if you’re a meat-eater either).
Add in the creamy, cheesy topping and rich tomato sauce, and you’ve got a perfect midweek dinner that the whole family will love. Even better, this is one of those make-ahead classics for ultra convenience if you need it!
You know I like to try and keep as many of my recipes super quick in response to our crazy, busy lives, however this Vegetarian Moussaka recipe takes a little longer (it should take about 90 minutes).
BUT please do bear in mind that a lot of that time is hands-off cooking time and the extra steps are so worth it. Because this recipe freezes so well too, make sure you add it to your batch cooks or make two at a time, then the next time you dish it up, the extra time in the first place will have been very much worth it!
I have simplified this recipe a little here though. (Shhh… the secret is in the sauce.) Usually moussaka would be made with a béchamel sauce, but I’ve made a little twist on the traditional Vegetable Moussaka, and whipped up a simplified ricotta topping.
It’s still creamy and oh-so-delicious, but it’s just easier and it cooks in the oven with the rest of the dish.
Why you’ll love this recipe
⭐️ Packed full of veg and hearty ingredients
⭐️ Simple to make and ideal to make ahead
⭐️ SO delicious and satisfying
What is Vegetarian Moussaka?
Moussaka is a traditional Greek dish that is layered a little like lasagne, but instead of pasta it’s made up of slices of potatoes and aubergine with a minced meat (usually beef or lamb), and is topped with a white sauce.
Vegetable Moussaka, on other hand, is made instead with extra veggies and lentils in the tomato sauce, which replaces the meat. As always, I’m keeping those all-important flavours in, such as cinnamon and nutmeg, while creating a simplified, budget-friendly version.
In traditional Greek recipes the aubergine would be fried on a griddle, but I’ve chosen to oven bake it as it’s much simpler and the aubergine absorbs less oil, so it makes for a healthier dish. I am also only adding one layer of each element of the dish, rather than trying to layer up multiple times.
Ingredients for Veggie Moussaka
- Olive oil
- Onion – I like to use pre-chopped frozen where possible as it saves time, but fresh is fine too
- Garlic – Cheat garlic in a jar or tube is OK, as is fresh. Your decision.
- Aubergines – I’ve used fresh but you can get frozen aubergines. If you use this, simply defrost and then add straight to the mixture to cook in the oven instead.
- Potatoes – White potatoes for this
- Tinned chopped tomatoes
- Salt and pepper
- Red lentils – See ‘substitutions’ below
For the topping:
- Eggs – I use medium free-range
- Greek yoghurt
- Nutmeg – Freshly grated
- Grated cheddar
How to make Vegetarian Moussaka: Step by step
1. Fry the chopped onions and garlic until soft. Add courgettes, salt and pepper, then oregano.
2. Add chopped tomatoes, water, honey, cinnamon and lentils. Stir well and simmer for about 30 minutes. (Add water if it gets too thick.)
3. Place sliced aubergine on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and bake for 20 minutes at 180C. Boil your potatoes for about 15 minutes.
4. Put your tomato sauce in an oven dish and layer the cooked aubergine on top.
5. Layer the potatoes over the aubergine. Make the cheese topping: Combine the ricotta, eggs and grated fresh nutmeg in a bowl and gently whisk.
2. Pour the cheese topping mixture over your potatoes, ensuring everything is covered. Sprinkle with grated cheddar cheese and cook in the oven for 20 minutes until golden brown and bubbling!
Hint: After cooking in the pan with the tomatoes, check that the lentils are soft and tender, not grainy. If not, cook for a couple more minutes.
- Lentils – To reduce cooking time you could use ready-cooked tinned green lentils, however I must say the texture of this is much nicer with the red.
- Potatoes – Potatoes aren’t ALWAYS used in a moussaka recipe but I love them (generally and also in this recipe). They soak up the yummy tomato sauce, and make the whole dish more stable. If you’d prefer to leave them out, you can. Perhaps add more aubergine slices?
How to store and reheat Vegetarian Moussaka
This is the perfect dish for batch cooking. Simply double the recipe and make two – one to eat now and one to freeze.
For best results assemble the moussaka and then freeze before cooking, either as a whole or in individual portions. The leftovers also freeze well too!
You can make the tomato vegetable sauce and keep it in the fridge for up to two days before cooking. You can also assemble the moussaka and store this in the fridge 48 hours before you cook it.
What to use
Believe me when I say a good quality peeler like this one is such an invaluable piece of kitchen kit. A swivel blade has actually made potato peeling a pleasurable experience!
A fairly deep, but sturdy rectangular dish works well for this recipe. I like this Oven Safe Serving Dish on Amazon, which is also a total bargain price.
Aubergine Moussaka FAQs
This is really a whole dish on its own, so you don’t need to make anything else to go with it.
However, if you want to make it go further or simply want a side dish to complement it, you could try my Easy Greek Salad, roasted vegetables, crusty bread or Homemade Chips.
Yes, this is a naturally gluten free recipe. We’re using fresh produce here, so you should be fine, but if you do swap any ingredients for any processed additions, please always check the label carefully if you need gluten-free.
Yes! When I make moussaka, I always make two – one to eat that day and the other to assemble and freeze ready to defrost another day.
You can also freeze the leftovers portioned up into takeaway containers like these from Amazon. (I wash and reuse them but they are much cheaper than buying hundreds of thick Tupperware containers.)
Let me know how you got on and what you thought of these recipes. Please rate the recipe using the ⭐️ below.
Also I’d LOVE to see your cooking creations. If you’d like to share yours with me, you can tag me on Instagram (@tamingtwins).
- 2 tbsp Olive oil
- 1 Onion Chopped.
- 4 Cloves Garlic Chopped.
- 2 Courgettes Sliced.
- 2 Large aubergine
- 750 g Potatoes
- 2x 400g Tinned chopped tomatoes
- Salt and pepper To taste.
- 1 tbsp Oregano
- 100 g Red Lentils (dried)
- 1 tsp Honey
- 1 tsp Cinnamon
For the topping:
- 250 g Ricotta
- 2 Eggs Whisked.
- 100 g Greek yoghurt
- 1/2 tsp Freshly grated nutmeg Approx.
- 100 g Cheddar Grated.
- Preheat your oven to 180C (fan).
- Finely chop the onions and garlic. Slice the courgettes.
- Slice the aubergine into 2cm thick slices.
- Peel and chop the potatoes also to 2cm thick slices.
- Next, fry the onion and garlic in some of the olive oil for around 5 minutes until the onion has started to brown.
- Add the courgettes, salt and pepper to taste, oregano, honey and cinnamon, and cook for a further 3 minutes.
- Now add chopped tomatoes and lentils. Half fill one of your empty tomato tins with water and pour that in too. Stir to combine and simmer for about 30 minutes.
- While this is cooking away, arrange your slices of aubergine on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and cook in the oven for 20 minutes.
- Boil your potatoes for about 15 minutes.
- Spread the tomato mixture on the bottom of a dish, then layer slices of aubergine on top, followed by the potato.
- Combine the ricotta, eggs, Greek yoghurt and nutmeg in bowl, then pour over the top, ensuring everything is covered. Sprinkle the grated cheddar cheese on top evenly.
- Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until the moussaka is golden brown and bubbling.