I've never had the real moussaka, I went veg before I had a chance to try it. However, while I'm vaguely sure this wouldn't really taste like the real thing, it's still damn good in its own right!
Beneath that creamy bechamel layer is a gorgeous, rich sauce of tomatoes, eggplant and veggie mince mixed with perfectly-cooked penne. If you wanted to make it even easier, you could forgo the bechamel layer (I'm all for saving pots haha), but it adds that special something that makes an extra pot to wash at the end totally worth it.
I often put a bechamel layer on tomato-based sauces because I really don't like plain pasta sauce. I need a creamy element or I just won't enjoy it. My other arsenal is capers and olives... if I have to suffer through a bolognese or similar, these little flavour bombs get me through.
But sometimes, you just gotta do the bechamel.
Look at that thing.
1 onion, diced
1 eggplant, diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 packet veggie mince (I used Sanitarium in this one)
1 jar pasta sauce
200g tomato paste
1 can diced tomatoes
pinch of sugar
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup milk
1 bay leaf
small amount of grated fresh nutmeg
1 cup grated cheese
1. Preheat oven to 180C.
2. Saute the onion in a little oil over medium heat 2-3 minutes.
3. Add eggplant and turn heat up to medium-high and saute until soft. This might take a while and suck up a lot of oil, but if you don't saute now it will stay hard and uncooked in the finished dish.
4. When all is soft, add veggie mince and garlic, stir 1 minute.
5. Add pasta sauce, paste, tomatoes and a pinch of sugar. Turn the heat off and set aside.
6. For the bechamel, cook the butter and flour over low heat, stirring 1 minute.
7. Add the milk and bay leaf. Raise the temperature and cook, stirring, until thick and bubbling. I left mine a little thinner than usual so it would stay a sauce and not go too rubbery when cold. You might like to add a little milk. Grate a little nutmeg over and stir in.
8. Mix tomato sauce with penne and layer in a large casserole dish.
9. Pour bechamel over and top with cheese.
10. Bake in preheated oven 20-30 minutes until heated through and cheese is golden brown and bubbling.