I am in a ‘bake’ super zone presently – every cell of my body tells me to create bakes, to fuse, to go with my creative instinct – which I have to say is working overtime – and I can barely keep up with it. Now, I have created a most wondrous bake – after tasting it, I was lost for words! I merged the flavors of the Middle East with a touch of Greek and Turkish, and I simply couldn't believe the taste of this. You are going to love it! For best results, make, bake, and also share with non-vegans!
Legendary ‘No-Lamb’ Middle Eastern-Style Bake
For the Sauce
- 2 Tbsp (30 ML) olive oil
- 3 spring onions, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 400g tin tomato pulp (chopped canned tomatoes)
- 2½ cups vegan mince meat (vegan ground crumble)
- 6 to 8 sundried tomato halves, chopped
- ¼ red pepper chopped
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil (if possible unflavoured)
- 1 tsp dried mint
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- ¼ cup water
- salt to taste
- a drizzle of olive oil
For the Cheese Sauce
- 2 cups (500 mL) soy milk, or other non-sweetened milk
- 1 Tbsp all-purpose plain flour
- 3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- ½ tsp fine garlic granules
- salt (don’t omit)
- a knob of vegan butter or margarine
- ¼ tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp vegetable stock powder or granules
- a little water if needed
For the Vegetable Layers
- 1 large eggplant/aubergine, cut lengthways fried in a griddle pan and set aside
- 2 medium courgettes/zucchini cut lengthways fried in a griddle pan and set aside
- olive oil for greasing
- 2 cups vegan grated cheese of your choice
- ground paprika (for dusting the top)
For the Sauce
- Heat up the oil in your frying pan (I used a cast iron skillet), and fry your spring onions until slightly golden.
- Next, stir in your garlic, and mix until it is slightly golden.
- Then add your red pepper and tomato puree, and mix for a couple of minutes.
- Now add your vegan mince, and mix again. Then add the remaining ingredients, and simmer gently for 20 minutes until the sauce thickens.
- Taste for salt, and set aside.
For the Cheese Sauce
- Place all the ingredients in a ‘milk’ pan and whisk.
- Heat the mixture up, mixing virtually non-stop, until you have a thickish consistency. Lower the heat, and continue cooking for a further minute or so.
- Pre-heat your oven to 375ºF (190ºC)
- Grease a suitable Pyrex (or similar) oven dish (mine was around 7” diameter, 3” deep) then place the eggplant slices across the base and sides of the dish, so that they overlap one another. Then add half your ‘meat sauce’ to the base, followed by the zucchini slices, and half of the cheese sauce (try to even the ingredients out with the back of a large spoon).
- Next, add the rest of the meat sauce, then cover with a mixture of the remaining eggplant and zucchini slices – don’t worry, there won’t be enough to seal it, but that’s exactly what we want for the top – a random mix of things.
- Then add the remaining cheese sauce, any grated or cut up vegan cheese, and finally sprinkle on some paprika with a drizzle of olive oil. Bake in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, and remove when it’s really golden. Allow to cool down for 20 minutes before serving, as it will be piping hot. This can also be made a day ahead. Enjoy !
For those of you who don’t like vegan ‘faux meat,’ you may use a mixture of pre-cooked puy lentils and chopped nuts of your choice. Use in the same way as if you were using the faux meat in the recipe and follow the method as normal.