I love moussaka, but it usually has ground meat in it. I wanted to see if I could capture the special flavors of moussaka in a vegetarian version. I took a recipe that I used to use, before I cut meat from my diet, and tweaked it a little, mainly substituting mushrooms for the meat! While I combined cremini and shiitake mushrooms, I think any mixture of various mushrooms would be good. Here is my version, which I think is quite delicious. I don't miss the meat at all.
2 eggplants, cut into cubes
extra virgin olive oil
1 1/5 lbs. cremini mushrooms, sliced
1/2 lb. shiitake mushrooms, sliced
2 onions, diced
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. oregano
26.5 oz. chopped tomatoes
1 1/2 cups grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
4 cups milk
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
6 eggs, beaten
Toss eggplant with olive oil and salt and roast at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes, tossing occasionally while roasting. Use the convection roast setting if available on your oven. Eggplant should be golden brown but not burnt.
Meanwhile, sauté onions over medium high heat in more olive oil until translucent. Lower heat, add garlic and toss for a few seconds (do not burn the garlic). Add mushrooms, more olive oil, thyme and salt. Saute until mushrooms are tender, tossing occasionally so that everything gets mixed together and cooked evenly. Add cinnamon and chopped tomatoes. Simmer for about a half hour. Stir in 1 cup parmigiano just before assembling the moussaka in a baking dish.
Beat eggs in mixing bowl and set aside. In a large saute pan, melt butter. Stir in flour and cook for a few minutes, continually stirring. Slowly whisk in milk, continuing to stir. Cook until thickened while continuously stirring. Add salt, nutmeg and 1/2 cup grated parmigiano. Scoop out about a cup of this sauce and whisk it into the eggs, then whisk the beaten eggs into the sauce and continue to cook while whisking until sauce is thick and smooth. Remove from heat.
To assemble, coat a 13" x 9" baking dish with cooking spray. Spread half of eggplant evenly over bottom of dish. Next pour the mushroom-tomato mixture on top of that and spread evenly. Put remaining eggplant over that, then pour the creamy egg sauce over that (you might have too much sauce; if so save it to use on another baked vegetable dish later). Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour, until topping is light golden brown.
Makes about 12 servings.