Gluten Free Greek Recipes: Vegetarian Tempeh Moussaka Recipe with Vegan option

November 4th, 2008 yum Posted in Dairy, Eggplant, Soy, Tempeh, Vegan, Vegetarian 9 Comments »

The first time I had moussaka was back in February, when I made the recipe from the Vegetarian Meat and Potatoes Cookbook. That recipe didn’t really wow me, being just a simple eggplant and tomato casserole with simple spices covered in a soy milk sauce. However, I had hope that future experiments would yield a more exciting vegetarian moussaka. Obviously, I didn’t think about trying it again for quite a while… Until the DH suddenly made a request for more hearty “European style” family meals. Ok, moussaka being Greek would be better characterized as Mediterranean than European, but it is certainly a hearty family dish.

But what is Moussaka, anyway? According to my friend Wikipedia:

“Moussaka is a traditional eggplant-based dish in the Balkans and the Middle East, but most closely associated with Greece and Turkey. The Greek version, which is the best-known outside the region, traditionally consists of layers of ground meat, sliced eggplant and tomato, topped with a white sauce and baked. Turkish musakka, unlike the Greek version, is not layered. Instead, it is prepared with sautéed and fried eggplants, green peppers, tomatoes, onions, and minced meat. In the Arab world, moussaka is a cooked salad made up primarily of tomatoes and eggplant, similar to Italian caponata, and is usually served cold as a mezze dish. ” (source: Wikipedia Moussaka Entry)

Those all sound lovely, except for the whole meat and (probable) gluten thing. I decided that instead of ignoring the usual “meaty” element of moussaka, I would replace it with a vegetarian substitute. I considered using Trader Joe’s Soy Vegetarian Chorizo, but I found myself shopping at Whole Foods instead of Trader Joe’s this week, and I was unexpectedly inspired by the tempeh. Turtle Island Home-Style Soy Tempeh is labeled gluten-free, and I thought that the grainy texture of the fermented soy would work beautifully for replicating a “meaty” texture in moussaka. I found inspiration from the Vegan Coach blog’s Tempeh Sausage Recipe, but the resulting recipe was mine, all mine.

Happily, the DH thoroughly enjoyed the Moussaka, gobbling it up with some jasmine rice and a salad with kalamata olives and a light italian vinaigrette dressing. I was at last satisfied- and felt like I had truly made a “real” complex and tasty moussaka that could compete with its less vegetarian friendly cousin. And happily, I had come up with a way of preparing tempeh that even the tempeh-skeptical DH could thoroughly enjoy. We both gave the recipe a nine out of ten on the yum scale, and I will definitely be making this recipe again.

Perfect Gluten-Free Vegetarian Moussaka Recipe
Tempeh “ground style”:
1 8 oz. Gluten-Free Tempeh
1 cup vegetarian broth
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
poultry seasoning to taste
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 sprig fresh rosemary diced
1 sprig fresh thyme, diced
2 cups button or crimini mushrooms, diced
1/2 cup pecans chopped
2 Tbsp. GF Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or other GF WF Tamari
smoked paprika, to taste

Basic White Sauce:
3 tbsp butter OR vegan margarine (Earth Balance)
3 tbsps. brown rice flour
2 cups milk- dairy OR vegan: soy milk etc.
1/8 tsp. grated nutmeg
salt and pepper

Moussaka Ingredients:
2 medium eggplant
Pasta seasoning blend (like Trader Joe’s with fennel)
Olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 or 2 garlic cloves, pressed
Tempeh “ground” (recipe above)
1 cup chopped, canned tomatoes
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 tbsp. tomato paste

2 cups white sauce (recipe above, dairy or vegan version)
Option A: 1 egg yolk OR Option B: 1 egg replacer “egg” recipe AND 1 1/2 tsp. mustard OR 1 tbsp. nutritional yeast OR 1 tsp. turmeric.

To prepare tempeh, slice the tempeh in half horizontally and bring one cup vegetarian broth (from bullion is fine)to a boil in a small saucepan. Immerse the tempeh in the broth and turn down heat to low. Cover and simmer for fifteen minutes or more. Remove tempeh from the pan and place in a medium bowl. Mash with a potato masher until you have a nice crumbly texture. Heat olive oil in a nonstick fry pan or cast iron pan and then add your mashed tempeh, distributing it evenly in the pan. Season with spices. Let tempeh brown and then turn. Add mushrooms to the empty edges of the pan and let begin to brown, eventually stirring into the tempeh. Add pecans to the edge of the pan again, letting toast, and then stir into the rest of the ingredients. Add your tamari evenly to the dish and mix again. Sprinkle with smoked paprika. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Make sure the tempeh has browned thoroughly before you remove from pan and reserve.

Prepare eggplant for Moussaka by slicing into rounds. Sprinkle pasta seasoning blend in a small measuring bowl (really, really small) and add olive oil and salt. whisk ingredients together and then baste eggplant rounds with seasoned olive oil on both sides. Place on baking dish (like a cookie sheet) and broil until browned. Turn and broil the other side until golden brown. Remove from oven and reserve.

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Take your nonstick pan and heat a little more olive oil. Add your onion and let it begin to turn translucent. Add your pressed garlic cloves and begin to cook. Add the prepared tempeh “ground” that you made, above. Combine and let flavors marry and heat. Add tomatoes, oregano, and tomato paste. Taste and season with any additional salt or pepper if needed. Cook for a few more minutes. When it has approached sufficient yumminess, remove from heat and reserve.

For white sauce:
Take a medium, heavy bottomed saucepan and heat your butter or vegan margarine over a medium-high heat. When it has melted, remove from heat and whisk in your brown rice flour until you have a thick, creamy roux. Still OFF THE HEAT, slowly add in 1/4 cup milk (dairy or non-dairy), and whisk until you have a smooth sauce. Add the rest of your milk, whisk, and then return to the burner on medium-high heat. When it starts to thicken and bubble, lower heat, whisking occasionally, and let continue to thicken to desired texture. Take off burner and whisk in either either your egg yolk OR egg replacer + yellow condiment.

Assemble Moussaka immediately!
Take a pretty casserole dish and layer starting from tempeh “ground” to your seasoned broiled eggplant, repeating until you end with the eggplant slices. Pour white sauce over the top eggplant in a thick, even layer.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, rotating halfway through so that it is evenly browned. Remove from oven, let cool slightly, and serve hot.

DH could tell it contained tempeh, but still loved it. A first for him! An easy 9/10 for both of us. A little time intensive, but the best moussaka I’ve had- when I made it before from a recipe, I found it bland. This was so flavorful!
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Gluten-Free Vegetarian Bibimbap Recipe with Roasted Sesame Green Bean recipe and Vegetarian Tempeh Bulgogi recipe

January 25th, 2008 yum Posted in Korea, Rice, Soy, Tempeh, Vegetables, Vegetarian 11 Comments »


bibbinbahalf.jpgI had never heard of the Korean dish bibimbap before I moved to Japan, where it is called bibbinba (ビビンバ). Luckily, the food court at Saty (a department store/ grocery store/ mall) near our apartment had a food court with a wonderful bibbinba shop and I had the opportunity to try it. Once I tried it, I was hooked, although now that I know a little more, I realize that restaurant bibbinba probably will contain a small amount of (wheat based) soy sauce. However, it certainly looked safe and was a gloriously rice based dish, so I was thrilled to discover it. But what is bibbinba, or bibimbap?

bibbintop.jpg“Bibimbap is a popular Korean dish. The word literally means “mixed rice” or “mixed meal”. (It is also sometimes spelled “bibimba,” “bibimbab” or “bibimbop”). Bibimbap is served as a bowl of warm white rice topped with namul (sautéed and seasoned vegetables), beef, a fried egg, and gochujang (chile pepper paste). The ingredients are stirred together thoroughly just before eating. It can be served either cold or hot.

Vegetables commonly used in bibimbap include julienned cucumber, zucchini, mu (daikon), mushrooms, doraji (bellflower root), and gim, as well as spinach, soybean sprouts, and gosari (bracken fern stems). Dubu (tofu), either plain or sautéed, or a leaf of lettuce may be added, or chicken or seafood may be substituted for beef. For visual appeal, the vegetables are placed so that adjacent colors complement each other. Many areas of Korea typically serve a vegetarian version of the dish which may well be the more traditional alternative.” (source: Wikipedia)

bibbintoppings2.jpgFast food Bibbinba chains in Japan carried a broad range of toppings, from tuna mayo, cheese, fish eggs, and of course varieties of meat. I stuck with “ishi-yaki Bibbinba, niku nashi” (Hot stone pot bibbinba, without meat), occasionally getting cheese as an extra topping. (Cheese make everything melty and extra crispy!) However, the diversity of offerings was impressive and enticing. What’s not to love about a stone pot, heated at high temperatures, filled with rice, vegetable and protein toppings, garnished with an egg that you crack over the pot, mix in and let get cooked and crunchy with the rest of the ingredients? They also served the bibbinba with a wonderful, light, salty sesame wakame broth that I’d love to replicate. I certainly ate (more than) my fair share of bibbinba while I was in Japan, and even bought some of the stone pots to bring back to the states with me. I haven’t perfected a hot stone pot bibbinba recipe yet, but the other night I decided to try making my own version of cool vegetarian bibimbap for dinner.

How to make bibimbap / bibbinba:
bibbasst1.jpgI made a fresh batch of rice, ideally fluffed and brought to room temperature, and then stir-fried, roasted and sauteed a variety of ingredients to be combined in my own version a classic Korean dish. I decided to use tempeh because I thought it would approximate the texture of ground beef that is often added to bibimbap, and modified a bulogi recipe for the marinade. However, you could also use tofu or use my favorite grilled tofu recipe, cubed or cut into strips, as a protein alternative. Sesame oil is the most important element in this recipe, but the toppings can be varied to taste. I love soybean sprouts, and fern bracken is traditional, but I didn’t have any on hand, so I left them out. Chili sauce (gochujang) is a vital element to the recipe, but most traditional korean brands contain wheat. You can use Japanese kimchi chili seasoning or a thai or vietnamese chili garlic sauce. They will usually be thinner than gochujang, but will add the heat that really makes this dish sing. Alternatively, you can make your own gochujang. I plan to come up with a recipe for this in the future, but haven’t gotten around to it yet. The nice thing is, the toppings make great leftovers with extra rice, or you can cook up another batch of rice and have bibbinba all over again for lunch or even breakfast. (Sounds good to me!)

bibbinbatiff2.jpgI served my bibbinba in Indian tiffin containers, making this a true experiment in fusion cuisine. We had an Indonesian protein (tempeh), with Korean vegetables, and Japan-grown rice served in an Indian container. The tasty, light flavors of Korean vegetables complimented the heavier taste of seasoned veggies and tempeh, and all together, the dish contained a harmonious blend of flavors that was a delight to consume. So the next time you can’t bear another plate of rice and beans, or vegetable sushi- why not try rice a whole new way, inspired by the mixed rice tradition of Korea? The fresh-tasting vegetables, sesame oil and hot sauce will make your mouth happy, and the rice will fill your stomach- what’s not to like about that?

bibbinbarice.jpg bibbinbahalf3.jpg riceplate2.jpg

Make Bibbinba with Maang Chi:

Japanese Video “documentary” on Ishi-yaki bibinba (J), aka Dolsot Bibimbap (K) or Stone pot Mixed Rice:

Pescatarians may enjoy my recipe for kimchi stew from my post on fusion onigiri.

AND Don’t forget to Enter my Contest for a free Bette Hagman or vegetarian cookbook!

Korean Vegetarian Bibinbap Recipe
3 cups cooked, short grain rice (fresh from rice cooker)
Sesame seeds

2 tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt or less
1/2 tsp black pepper

Toasted sesame oil

1/2 to 1 cup Spinach (more if you want spinach leftovers)
1 Sweet Red Pepper, cut into squares
Green Onions, cut into large pieces
Optional- cucumber, fern bracken, soy bean sprouts
Optional- 1 egg per serving (2 for 2 people, 3 for 3 etc.)

Tempeh or Tofu Bulogi (recipe follows)
Sesame mushrooms (recipe follows)
Sesame green beans (recipe follows)
kimchi (gluten-free, read container carefully)
hot chili sauce (most Korean varieties contain wheat flour as thickener so you may want to use a Thai etc. chili garlic sauce)

Prepare tempeh, mushrooms, green beans etc.

Start your rice in the rice cooker. White rice is most typical, but you can also use short-grained brown rice.

Combine brown sugar, salt and pepper. Clean and dry spinach, red pepper etc. Put spinach on a plate or in a bowl and mix with some of the brown sugar mixture. Pour a bit of sesame oil on your spinach and evenly distribute it over the leaves. Stir-fry your spinach in a cast iron pan or wok until bright green and lightly done. Remove from pan and reserve. Season your red pepper in the same way (with brown sugar mixture and sesame oil), stir-fry, and reserve. Do the same thing with the rest of your plain vegetables.

To plate, fluff your rice, place in a bowl and top with assorted veggies and tempeh/tofu. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Fry your egg in a little sesame oil and place on top of the veggies and tempeh. (optional) Add a dollop of chili sauce if desired, and serve.

Vegetarian Korean Tempeh Bulgogi Recipe
Side Dish  Tofu  Korean  
1/8 cup GF low sodium tamari (san-j etc.)
1 tbsp. mirin
1/2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tbsp. grated apple
1 or 2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 lg clove garlic, pressed
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp black pepper

1 package gluten-free tempeh (read label)

sesame seeds

1 tbsp. sesame oil or more for frying, add peanut oil if you like

Combine above marinade ingredients.

Steam tempeh according to directions on package, and slice into thin strips. Marinate for as long as possible, ideally at least three hours.

Either baste tempeh in sesame oil and grill, OR heat sesame oil in cast iron pan and fry, turning over once when browned. Remove from pan and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Reserve for recipe. Can be crumbled or eaten as is.

Quantity of marinade can be increased if you like- this is a bit skimpy for the larger packages of tempeh.
Korean Roasted Sesame Green Bean Recipe
1 lb green beans, washed and patted dry
1 tbsp. oil of choice

1 tbsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. minced fresh ginger
2 tsp. honey
1/2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

toasted sesame seeds

Line baking sheet with aluminum foil. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Put your green beans on your baking sheet and drizzle oil on beans, mixing beans around so oil gets evenly distributed. Season with a pinch of salt and roast in oven for ten minutes.

Combine garlic with other ingredients in a large or medium bowl. After green beans have roasted for ten minutes, take them out and use tongs to put them in the bowl. Combine green beans with seasoning, using large spoon or tongs to mix them. Put green beans back on your baking sheet and roast for another 10 or 12 minutes.

This will make a side dish serving for four, so you can use a little in your bib bimbap recipe and then use the rest later for lunches or snacks.
Sesame Ginger Mushroom Recipe
2 tbsp peanut oil
1 1/2 lbs mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed and quartered
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp minced or grated fresh ginger
2 tbsp mirin
1 1/2 tbsp wheat-free tamari (San-J)
1 tsp. sesame oil
2 green onions, sliced thinly
Heat half of your peanut oil on medium in a cast iron pan or wok until hot and add mushrooms, stirring for about five minutes. Turn up heat a little and cook for a little while longer, then adding rest of your peanut oil and stirring. Cook for another five minutes or so.

Add sesame seed and ginger, heat and then add mirin and tamari, stirring until liquid dissipates. Take off heat and season with sesame oil and green onions.

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