Lentils are amazing. Filling, low cost, available in bulk (at many supermarkets) and full of protein (26% by weight) and fiber (31%). Superfood.
Photo by Anna Svensson
As a plant-based mama and home chef, I am always looking to create new dishes using superfoods like lentils and low cost, simple staples like onions and potatoes. This is how I came to transform the Greek classic of Moussaka into my Swedish style (got to have potatoes in everything) vegan version, which the whole family enjoys – also the toddler.
It takes about an hour to make it, but fear not, all the steps in this recipe are simple, manageable and “no fail”. The worst thing that can happen to someone venturing into plant-based cooking is a confusing recipe with high failure rate.
This is what you need to serve about four people. Moussaka sits well in the fridge overnight so no stress if you have leftovers; lunch at the office tomorrow – done. The “ZW” (zero waste) notes ingredients bought in bulk in my own reusable bags or naturally package free.
• 8-10 medium size yellow potatoes (ZW)
• 1/2 cup dry green lentils (ZW)
• 1 large yellow onion (ZW)
• 1 tbsp. flour (gluten free mix or regular)
• 1 can diced tomatoes (recyclable aluminum can, check for “no BPA liners”)
• 1-2 tbsp. tomato paste (recyclable aluminum can, check for “no BPA liners”)
• Salt & pepper to taste (ZW)
• 1-2 tomatoes (ZW)
• 1 cup raw cashews (ZW)
• Water (ZW)
• Something to grease your casserole dish with
• Shredded “cheese” (about 1 cup)
Photo by Anna Svensson
Here’s what you do:
1. Wash, peel and boil the potatoes (15 minutes). They need to be firmer than when used in mash. Drain.
2. Rinse the lentils using a strainer and boil until soft (20 minutes) then rinse again and drain excess liquid.
3. Boil cashews until soft (20 minutes). Drain.
4. Set all aside.
5. Chop the onion and sauté in a pan with the lentils and some water until it’s soft. (This is a great low fat trick; no need for oil or margarine in your pan ever. Just water, I promise.)
6. Add the flour, stir.
7. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, pepper and ½ cup water.
8. Stir and cook on low (with lid) for about 10 minutes.
9. Set the oven to 450F.
10. Pour the cashews into a blender along with 1 cup of water and blend until smooth. This is your cream!
11. Grease a casserole dish (mine is 12” x 8” x 3”) with coconut, canola or olive oil.
12. Slice the potatoes.
13. Layer the dish with potatoes, tomato-lentil sauce, potatoes again, and top with sliced tomatoes.
14. Complete your layering with the cream and cheese for a deliciously golden look.
15. Pop in oven for 20 minutes.
Serve with green salad or, as the kids prefer, corn!
You can use dairy cream and cheese if want to make the meal vegetarian and more familiar to omnivores. Vegan shredded cheeses are available at stores as well or you can use cashew-based mozzarella from ItDoesntTasteLikeChicken.com for super a cheesy cover (no need to also add the cashew cream if you decide to make cashew mozzarella). I don’t recommend subbing homemade cashew cream for coconut cream in this dish.
PS: Did you know that tomato paste freezes well? Since you won’t use the entire 6 oz can, freeze the leftover paste (in a glass jar) until your next Moussaka day!