Croatian Vegetable-Cheese Musaka

According to Alan Davidson's The Oxford Companion to Food, the word musakka comes from the Arabic word musaqqa meaning "moistened." Mr. Davidson continues to explain the dish is not Arabic, but of Turkish origin. The original dish contains both meat and vegetables, with a tomato sauce and often with cheese. Because the mixture of cheese and meat is not allowed in a kosher home, I searched for a vegetarian variation. This is a vegetarian adaptation, more typical of the way mousaka is served in the Balkans. I first found this recipe in Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant, The Moosewood Collective, Fireside, 1990. I serve the musaka with a salad as a main meal. I've also used it for an unusual and attractive brunch buffet dish.


Sauté onions in 3 T. oil, until translucent. Add mushrooms, and continue to sauté for several minutes, stirring frequently. Mix in wine, soy, herbs, salt, pepper, and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Brush squash rounds with oil, and bake uncovered at 450 ° F. for 10 minutes until tender but still firm. When mushrooms have cooked, remove from heat, and stir in cornstarch mixture. Return to heat, stirring, until mixture begins to thicken. Set aside. Combine feta, eggs, and black pepper. Assemble musaka: coat bottom of 12-inch square, deep pan with oil and then 1/2 cup tomato juice. Arrange a layer of raw lasagne noodles, 1/3 cup tomato juice, half of mushroom sauce, layers of squash slices, and all the bread crumbs. Continue to layer 1/3 cup tomato juice, noodles, the rest of the tomato juice, the rest of the mushroom sauce, and top with the feta mixture. Sprinkle with paprika, and bake at 350 ° F. for 45 minutes. Allow the casserole to set for 5-10 minutes. Serves 8.
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