Time: 1 1/2 hours, much of it active
In our version of this traditional Greek casserole, layers of tender roasted eggplant, potatoes and zucchini are layered with a sublime cinnamon-scented tomato sauce and topped with velvety, creamy topping of pine nut custard. While you might not want to attempt this after a long day of work, it’s a great dish for a potluck or a special Sunday night dinner. The pine nut cream is also a great trick to have up your sleeve or lasagna, pizza or anything calling out for a rich, savory topping. This recipe is modified from Veganomicon.
Note: The zucchini will likely be very watery after roasting, so when it’s cool enough to touch gently but firmly squeeze slices, by the handful, to remove any excess water. This will prevent an overly wet casserole and will help concentrate the flavors
For the vegetable layer:
1 lb eggplant
1 lb zucchini
1 1/2 lbs russet-type baking potatoes (using large, long potatoes works perfectly in this recipe)
1/4 cup olive oil
For the sauce:
1/4 cup olive oil
4 large shallots, sliced thin
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup vegetable broth or red wine
2, 15 oz. cans crushed tomatoes, with juice
2 teaspoons oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 bay leaf
salt to taste
Pine Nut Topping:
1 lb. soft tofu
1/2 cup pine nuts
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon arrowroot powder
1 clove garlic
1 1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
white pepper to taste
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
Extra pine nuts for garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 400. Lightly oil three baking sheets or shallow pans.
Wash and trim stem from eggplant and zucchini. Scrub and peel potato. Slice the eggplant, zucchini and potato, lengthwise, into approximately 1/4 inch thick slices. Rub eggplant slices with a little salt and set aside in a colander in the sink or in a big bowl for about 15 minutes to soften, briefly rinsing with cold water and squeezing out any excess liquid water.
Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper and place each vegetable on a separate baking sheet. Distribute 1/4 cup oil between the three sheets and sprinkle vegetables with salt (except eggplant if salted already). Toss to coat, making sure each piece is completely coated with oil. Spread vegetables out with minimal overlapping. Roast the zucchini and eggplant for 15 minutes or until tender. Roast the potatoes for about 22 minutes, until edges are lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool.
While vegetables are cooking prepare the tomato sauce. Add remaining 1/4 cup olive oil and minced garlic to a large heavy bottom sauce pot. Bring to medium heat and let garlic sizzle for about 30 seconds, then add shallots and cook until soft and translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add wine and simmer until slightly reduced, another 3 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, oregano, ground cinnamon and bay leaf. Partially cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 12 to 14 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sauce should reduce slightly. Turn off the heat, remove bay leaf and adjust salt.
Make the pine nut topping:
In a food processor blend together pine nuts and lemon juice, scrapping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula until a creamy paste forms. Add tofu, garlic, arrowroot, nutmeg, salt and white pepper. Blend until creamy and smooth.
Lightly oil a 9 x 13 pan and pre-heat oven again to 400 F. Spread 1/4 cup of sauce in the pan, then add a layer of the following; eggplant, potatoes, sauce, and half of the breadcrumbs. Spread all of the zucchini on top of this. Top with a final layer of eggplant, potatoes, sauce and breadcrumbs. Use a rubber spatula to evenly spread the pine nut topping over the entire top, smoothing out any uneven spots. Scatter a few pine nuts on top if desired. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until top is lightly browned and a few cracks have formed in the topping. Allow to cool 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
Do you only add 1/4 cup sauce for each layer, then use the rest on the cooked pieces, or should I put all of it in the casserole?
So so good. Thank you! I’m a first-time commenter but longtime user. Your recipes have always been hits. Keep up the good work!
Just made this for dinner today and I must say, it is DIVINE! Thank you for this amazing recipe. I just wish pine nuts were not so expensive, because I would be making this all the time.
I have the same question as Marlene below – can we freeze the pine nut cream? I plan on making this for a family reunion but am not sure if I’ll have a food processor available, so wanted to plan ahead. My guess is it will be fine, but wanted to as the expert! Thanks!
we made this with a cashew-tofu cream instead of the pine nuts, and it was absolutely delicious! just soaked raw cashews in water for a little while before tossing into the food processor. and for those that have soy allergies, we’ve also made it with a straight cashew cream (with garlic, lemon juice, salt+pepper, and enough cashew soaking water to achieve the right consistency—don’t be afraid to use a lot), and the results were also yummy. if you’re using only a cashew cream on top, however, i would spread it on about halfway through baking, as it doesn’t really behave the same way as the tofu in a hot oven. amazing recipe!
this sounds amazing, I am going to try it at a dinner party…maybe i should try it on my husband first..looks pretty easy..
My niece and sister made this recently and I couldn’t get enough of it, it is soooo good. I’m glad you mentioned saving the topping for lasagna, that is next.
I know I’m late to the party, but I wanted to add some substitutions that worked great. I had the eggplant and one small potato on hand. To use up some CSA bounty, I subbed celeriac for the rest of the potato, and it was lovely and mild. I wouldn’t hesitate to use celeriac instead of all of the potato. I used kale instead of zucchini; I steamed it and then chopped it small. Also used a 12.3 oz. package of silken tofu instead of a whole pound. It was perfection. I had to sneak a couple of cold bites in the middle of the night, and I just had it for breakfast.
Little late to this party, but OH MY GOD what a great recipe. Made this for my reluctant vegan boyfriend and even he was blown away, we both couldn’t get enough. Definitely will be making this a regular dish over winter – thank you!!
Wow! This recipe is so wonderful. It makes a huge amount of food so I am wondering if anyone has tried freezing this dish?
I purchased Veganomicon awhile back and I really like it–particularly the banana nut waffle recipe! This picture makes me salivate every time but when I tried it, it didn’t work out very well. Do you do videos to go along with your recipes? Because I would love to see this video!
I got so excited when I found this recipe and read all the comments. I made it the other night (including the sauce from scratch) and boy was I underwhelmed. It was lacking in taste, texture, and flavor. To me, this was not worth the time or effort for something so bland tasting.
Can you freeze this dish? Please say yes cause I’ve made tons!!
This is one of my favorite recipes to make, but I can never get my slices to look as pretty as yours! It always falls apart as we take our portions. It still tastes great though. Is there something I’m doing wrong?
I made this but didn’t put the pine nut custard on for baking but served it chilled as a sauce and it was really nice. this was definitely one of the nicest dishes I have made, a really holiday feel to the flavours.
This is my all-time favorite recipe in the entire universe. I recommend roasting the vegetables one day and making the moussaka the next. It seems like less work.
Oh hi, me again, same Susan. Still my favorite recipe in the universe. Just wanted to add that I always cut the amount of salt in the tofu pine nut topping to 1/2 tsp. Also I use whatever kind of tofu I have, usually firm. Other than that I follow the recipe.
This receipe is a keeper!!! Works for everybody even those critical of tofu. Loved it. It was a big hit