From Tori Avey.
1 1/2 lbs. zucchini (about 3 medium) sliced thin
1 1/2 lbs russet potatoes (about 3 large) peeled and sliced thin
3 lbs small eggplants
3 cloves garlic peeled
1 onion diced
1 1/2 cups cooked black beluga lentils (see directions below)
1 roasted red bell pepper sliced thin (jarred is fine)
1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
3 tbsp chopped fresh dill
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper if you’re spice sensitive use 1/4 tsp
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
10 tbsp grated pecorino or parmesan cheese divided
1/4 cup unsalted butter
3 tbsp all purpose white flour (for gluten free use a certified GF all purpose flour)
3 cups milk
1 large egg, beaten
1/4 tsp nutmeg or more to taste
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
TIME SAVING NOTES: This moussaka takes quite a bit of time to prepare, but you can cut down the prep time substantially with a few simple modifications. Buy jarred roasted peppers so you don’t need to roast them yourself and buy pre-steamed or canned lentils. Prep all of your vegetables in advance and have all of your items ready to assemble for both the moussaka and the sauce; pausing to hunt for or measure an ingredient every few minutes will increase your cooking time quite a bit. The better you are organized from the beginning, the faster the process will be!
3/4 cup black lentils (dry)
2 1/4 cups water
Bring the water to boil in a medium saucepan.
Add the lentils and cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes, or until “al dente” but cooked through. Drain. Reserve for later. Yield = 1 1/2 cups cooked lentils.
Place racks on the upper and lower thirds of your oven. Preheat oven to 500º F. Grease two baking sheets with extra virgin olive oil. Spread out the zucchini, potatoes, and 3 garlic cloves in a single layer across the baking sheets. Brush the exposed tops of the vegetables with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and black pepper.
Place baking sheet with potatoes on the upper rack of the oven. Place sheet with zucchini on the lower half. Roast veggies for 10 minutes. Remove sheets from oven and place them back in the oven, switching racks (zucchini and garlic on top, potatoes on bottom). Roast for about 5 more minutes, until veggies are tender and starting to turn golden brown (check the bottoms of the veggies for browning).
While potatoes and zucchini are roasting, remove the stem ends from the eggplants. Peel strips from the eggplants so that they have thin stripes of peel remaining down the sides (they will be half-peeled).
Cut the eggplants into 1/2 inch slices. No need to pre-salt the eggplant.
When potatoes and zucchini are done roasting, remove them from the oven and scoop veggies into a bowl using a slotted spatula. Take the 3 roasted garlic cloves and chop them, reserve.
Re-grease the baking sheets with olive oil. Spread eggplant slices into a single layer across the two baking sheets. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Place the baking sheets in the oven and roast for 10-15 minutes, switching the baking sheets on upper and lower thirds halfway through cooking, until the slices are tender and lightly golden (check the bottom edges of slices for browning).
While eggplant is roasting, place a sauté pan or skillet with high sides on the stovetop. Warm up 2 tbsp olive oil in the pan over medium high heat. Sauté diced onion until softened and translucent. Add roasted bell pepper slices and chopped roasted garlic, sauté for another 2 minutes. Add cooked lentils, crushed tomatoes, fresh dill, oregano, cinnamon, cayenne pepper and 3/4 tsp salt to the pan; stir well. Reduce heat to medium and let mixture cook for about 5 more minutes until warmed through.
When eggplant is done roasting, remove it from the oven and reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees F. Use a slotted spatula to scoop up the eggplant slices and place in a bowl. Lightly grease your baking dish or lasagna pan. Place a single layer of half of the roasted eggplant slices on the bottom of your dish.
On top of that, place a layer of half the potatoes and half the zucchini.
Spread the lentil mixture evenly in a single layer across the surface.
Sprinkle 2 tbsp of grated pecorino or parmesan and 1/2 cup crumbled feta across the top of the lentil mixture. Place the rest of the potatoes and zucchini in another layer on top of the cheese.
Finish with a layer of the remaining roasted eggplant slices. Sprinkle top of the moussaka with 2 tbsp more of grated parmesan cheese.
Place moussaka in the oven for 20 minutes to bake at 375º F. Meanwhile, while the moussaka is baking, make the béchamel sauce for the top of the moussaka. In a small pan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk flour into the melted butter till dissolved and thick.
Continue to whisk for a few minutes until the flour/butter mixture turns a light sandy brown color. Slowly whisk in milk. Bring mixture to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium.
Whisk in 2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese. Continue whisking for a few minutes until the sauce starts to thicken. Remove from heat. Add 3/4 tsp salt, nutmeg, and black pepper to taste. Whisk the beaten egg slowly into the sauce (drizzle the egg in while whisking constantly).
Remove the moussaka from the oven. Pour sauce evenly across the top of the moussaka. Sprinkle 1/4 cup grated parmsean cheese on top of the sauce.
Put moussaka back in the oven. Cook for another 30 minutes until the top is golden brown and the moussaka is cooked through. If the top isn’t evenly browned, you can turn on the broiler and broil it for a minute or two — keep a close eye on it to make sure it doesn’t burn. Do not broil if using a glass dish, as they can shatter under the intense heat.
Serve hot. Don’t expect it all to hold together neatly when served; it will slice more cleanly and pieces will hold together better after it has cooled.