I’ll probably make a beef filet with lobster tails for cozy Valentine’s day dinner at home. But I also like to include a meatless meal once a week. Whether it’s pasta with beans or a vegetable rice dish, vegetarian meals aren’t just for vegetarians. You don’t have to “go vegan” to enjoy them as part of your weekly meal planning. Even meat-eaters can incorporate a vegetarian dish once a week. You can also modify vegan recipes (for instance, use dairy cheese in place of the vegan cheese) to suit your taste. The goal here is to add more vegetables to your diet, and incorporate more complex flavors, so they really satisfy.
I made this easy recipe one weeknight, and it was delicious. To me, this type of casserole is the ultimate comfort food: Warm, soft, flavorful, and cheesy! My version was inspired by this one. A traditional Moussaka dish includes both eggplant and ground meat, and topped with a Bechamel sauce (white cream sauce). But this recipe is an easy way to enjoy my favorite flavors in the dish. It eliminates the meat and adds whole grain, high protein quinoa, and a high protein, creamy custard topping. And of course, it’s DASH Diet friendly.
Vegetarian Moussaka [serves 4-6]
1 large eggplant, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 cup finely chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup water
1/2 cup uncooked Bulgar and red quinoa mixture (I used Full Circle brand – but you could use 1/4 cup quinoa and 1/4 cup bulgar wheat)
1 small can tomato paste (plus 4 cans of water)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 cup Light Sour Cream or plain fat-free Greek yogurt
2 TB feta cheese, crumbled
2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
2 large eggs
3 TB Parmesan cheese, grated
Preheat broiler to high. Line a baking sheet pan with foil. Spray with olive oil cooking spray. Place eggplant slices on the baking sheet and lightly drizzle olive oil over the eggplant, or spray with olive oil spray. Broil for 5 minutes on each side or until browned. If needed, cook in batches (being sure you only have one single layer of eggplant). Set eggplant aside.
Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil to pan. Add onion, stir to coat with oil and cook about 5-10 minutes or until onion is tender. Add garlic, cook 1 minute. Add 1 cup water, quinoa, tomato paste, salt and pepper, and additional water (measured in tomato paste can). Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and gently stir in basil.
Set oven temperature to 350°.
Combine sour cream (or greek yogurt), feta cheese, goat cheese, and eggs in a bowl or large glass measuring cup, stirring well with a fork until smooth. Set aside.
Spread half of the tomato sauce onto the bottom of a 9×11-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange half of eggplant slices over sauce, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
- Spoon remaining tomato sauce over eggplant and top with remaining eggplant slices. Spoon or pour yogurt mixture evenly over eggplant, spreading to cover.
- Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until topping is lightly browned. Garnish with extra basil if desired.Cut into 4 large squares and enjoy!Other additions: You can always use up other vegetables you may have in this dish. Sliced zucchini, bell peppers, or sliced mushrooms could be used an additional layer in this dish. Alternate the layering – eggplant, vegetable, then eggplant layer.