Vegetarian Moussaka Recipe for a Taste of Greece

vegetarian moussaka

Creating a vegetarian moussaka will satisfy anyone's need for this delicious Greek dish. In fact, the cheese components of the recipe can be replaced with soy cheese or tofu for a completely vegan version, as well.

What Is Moussaka?

Moussaka is a lasagna type dish that originated in Greece. Rather than pasta, moussaka is usually layered with eggplant.

Traditional moussaka is made by layering thinly sliced eggplant, mild cheese, and ground meat in a square casserole and then pouring Bechamel sauce over the whole thing. There may be one, two or three layers of each component but it usually ends with eggplants, sauce, and cheese on the top. The casserole is then baked for about one hour or until heated through.

Because of the versatility of this casserole it is simple to create a variety of vegetarian moussakas once you know the basic recipe.

Basic Vegetarian Moussaka

This basic recipe has an almost meaty flavor thanks to the inclusion of portobello mushrooms. You can assemble it a day ahead. Just cover it tightly with plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator until you need it.

Eggplant Layer

  • 3 pounds of eggplant, unpeeled and sliced ¼ inch thick rounds
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil


  1. Salt the eggplant slices on both sides with kosher salt and set aside for 30 minutes. This removes bitterness.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425F and oil a baking sheet.
  3. Rinse eggplant and pat dry. Brush both sides with oil. Arrange in a single layer and bake for 10 minutes.
  4. Turn the slices over and continue baking until tender. This may take up to 20 minutes.
  5. Remove the eggplant from the oven and reduce the temperature to 350F.
  6. Set the eggplant aside.

Tomato Layer

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Vidalia onion or other large sweet onion sliced thinly
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb portobello mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped canned black beans
  • 1 ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley, fresh
  • 1 28 ounce can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes


  1. Heat ¼ cup of oil in a skillet. Add onion and celery, and saute until the onion is tender.
  2. Add garlic, beans, and mushrooms to the skillet and cook about 10 minutes, stirring often.
  3. Add the tomatoes, parsley, oregano, lemon, and cinnamon.
  4. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.

Bechamel Sauce

  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup of unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 3 ½ cups whole milk
  • 4 large egg yolks (or vegan substitute)


  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan.
  2. Whisk in flour carefully and stir for 2 minutes.
  3. Whisk in milk, stirring constantly until thickened. This will take about 5 minutes.
  4. Add cheese and stir until smooth.
  5. Add salt and pepper if necessary.
  6. In a large bowl beat egg yolks until well blended.
  7. Add 1 cup of the hot milk mixture to the yolks, 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking constantly.
  8. Pour the yolk mixture slowly into the remaining hot milk mixture, whisking constantly.
  9. Simmer for 2 minutes and then remove from heat.

Cheese Layers

  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions: Use as directed in assembly

Assemble the Vegetarian Moussaka

  1. Oil a 13x9 inch baking dish.
  2. Arrange half the eggplant in a single layer on the dish.
  3. Cover with ricotta cheese.
  4. Spoon the tomato mixture over the cheese.
  5. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese.
  6. Repeat with a layer of eggplant.
  7. Pour the Bechamel sauce over the casserole and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese.
  8. Bake at 350F for about 50 minutes, or until heated through.
  9. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Serves 8

Popular Variations

Recently chefs and home cooks have experimented using vegetables other than eggplant. Some of these include:

  • Zucchini
  • Potato
  • Spinach leaves

Try this basic recipe, then experiment with your own delicious variations for a special dinner for family or company. Just serve it with some garlic bread, a great salad, and some fresh melon for dessert and you will have a vegetarian meal that even your meat-eating friends will love.

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Vegetarian Moussaka Recipe for a Taste of Greece