Black Lentil Moussaka

Black lentil vegan moussaka
Black Lentil Moussaka

Prep Time

45 minutes



Cook Time

2 hours 30 minutes
This is probably our family's favourite winter meal. It's got a perfect balance of creaminess in the bechamel, earthy tones from the bay leaf and spice from the chilli. 
It's also nicely filling and very, very tasty.


Potato topping

  • 2 kg potatoes - red potatoes are good for this dish. Not too watery. You don't want to end up with mash.

Lentil layer

  • 1 large onion - brown preferably
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp fermented garlic - alternatively 2-3 cloves of fresh garlic
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 tbsp fermented chilli - sub 1 tsp of chilli flakes if you don't have fermented chilli sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 100 ml red wine - doesn't have to be expensive
  • 2 400g tins chopped or whole tomatoes
  • 50 ml water
  • 50 g refined coconut oil - optional. Do not use virgin coconut oil or you will end up with a coconut taste. It has to be odourless and tasteless.
  • 2 400g tins black beluga lentils - sub green lentils if you can't get these.


  • 500 ml oat milk - or soy milk if you prefer
  • 80 g wheatcheese melt - roughly half a jar
  • 50 g plant butter/rapeseed oil
  • 50 g flour
  • ground white pepper - yes, the stuff from the 70s we used to have before we started grinding black peppercorns like fury. It won't discolour your sauce.
  • salt - sea salt tastes nicer than table salt. There is apparently no difference in health benefits.
black lentil moussaka


First make the lentil layer stage 1

  • Chop your onion (not too fine) and add to a deep (ish) heavy-bottomed pan with the olive oil. Season a little with salt to draw out the moisture and give it all a stir.
  • Now turn the heat on medium and allow them to come up to sizzling point. Keep stirring and if they look like they're cooking too fast, turn them down. You just want to get the inions and the oil warmed up for a minute or two and then add the garlic. Stir it all well.
  • Turn the heat to its lowest setting and put a lid on. Cook over a really low heat until the onions are very soft and a light golden colour. You will need to check on them every few minutes and give them another stir. The light condensation from the lid should prevent burning and helps them to cook gently. Don't let them burn! This is the most time consuming part of the lentil layer and probably the most important.
  • When your garlic onions smell amazing and are just threatening to turn darker add the tomato puree, chilli, bayleaves and red wine and stir some more. The wine will sizzle. Stir it in well with the tomato paste.
  • Now add the tinned tomatoes and water and stir well again.
  • Turn the heat to medium and bring the sauce to a boil. Now turn the heat down very low so that the sauce just simmers, put the lid back on and leave it to keep on cooking slowly. You will need to check on it every so often to make sure it doesn't burn. Ideally you want it to cook for about 1-2 hours, gradually reducing to a nice, fairly thick sauce. If it looks too dry, too soon, add around 50ml of water at a time until it is a little thinner again. If you prefer, you can transfer the sauce at this stage to a slow cooker and cook on high for about 4 hours or low for 8 hours (maybe a good option if you're going out?).

Make the potato layer

  • Peel and slice all the potatoes. Your slices need to be about 1cm thick.
  • Add all the slices to a large pan so that they're not too squashed in. Pour over cold water and a good pinch of salt.
  • Boil until they are tender but just before falling apart. This should take about 20 minutes. Don't use boiling water. Always boil your potatoes from cold. Alternatively put the sliced potato in a steamer and steam until very tender.
  • When the potatoes are done, spread them out if you can (maybe put some on a cake cooling tray and the rest in the colander) to let them cool. This results in resistant starch and is good for feeding the good bacteria in your tummy.
  • Wash your potato pan. You're done with this now.

Make the bechamel

  • Melt the plant butter in a saucepan, take off the heat and mix in the flour.
  • Gradually add the oat/soy milk until you have a mixture that starts off as a paste and ends up the consistency of a thin(ish) soup.
  • Return to the heat and add the wheatcheese melt. Bring it to the boil, turn it down a little and keep stirring until the sauce is nice and thick and the wheatcheese has melted in well. If you end up with a slightly lumpy sauce, use a hand blender to smooth it out.
  • Season with salt and white pepper to your taste, turn off the heat and allow to cool.

Make the lentil layer stage 2

  • Now that you have a nice thick, flavoursome tomato sauce, it's time to rinse your lentils well in a sieve to get rid of any leached starches that will make the final sauce gloopy.
  • Once rinsed, add them to your tomato sauce with the coconut oil if you are using this. Heat it all through and then it turn off the heat.

Build your moussaka

  • Tip the lentil sauce into a deep roasting/ovenproof dish. Spread it out evenly.
  • Cover the lentil sauce with rows of cool sliced potato, slightly overlapping. Don't worry too much about presentation. It's going to be covered in bechamel next.
  • Cover with bechamel.
  • Now, my husband swears by this. If you can allow it all to cool for a little while before baking, the sauce will sit nice and firm on top even after another half hour in a hot oven.
  • Bake in a hot oven (around 180°C if you have a fan, otherwise 200°C) roughly half an hour or a little longer until the potato/bechamel layer is turning golden.
  • Whilst it is in the oven, you can heat up some mushy peas and maybe find someone to do the washing up.


As there's usually always someone in our house to keep an eye on things, we tend to make the tomato sauce on the stove in a large pan. But it is a long cook and if you are worried about it burning or have to go out, you can use a slow cooker instead. I find that sauces made in the slow cooker tend to end up a bit watery, so don't add any extra water unless it's all getting a bit dry. And consider transferring to a stove to finish off cooking and reduce down a bit, whilst you are there making the potatoes and bechamel. You want the end sauce to be nice and thick holding in that lovely blend of garlic, chilli and bay flavours.
If you don't want to add wine to the sauce, you can use another fermented ingredient. Sauerkraut juice will work pretty well as will a tablespoon of marmite mixed with a little water.
The coconut oil absolutely must be odorless and tasteless. You can find refined coconut oil online, in some Co op stores and sometimes on offer in Holland Barrett. It has no smell or taste of coconut and it adds a glossy sheen to your sauce. It is almost entirely saturated fat so we don't add much. It does taste good and improves "mouth feel" and makes the sauce more filling - but it is still a delicious sauce without it so if you don't have any refined coconut oil, or you are careful about the carbon footprint of the foods you buy - or you don't want to add saturated fat, then leave it out.
You can of course make your own mushy peas and pickled red cabbage to go with it or just used tinned peas and a jar of red cabbage. Both are widely available.

Fermented garlic and chilli

We use fermented garlic every day in our house. It's a real winner on account of its complex flavours and health benefits.
Fully fermented garlic and chilli will sit in a jar in your fridge for weeks/months without going off.
Never musty, rotting or stale, it's on hand then to use whenever you want and there is no need to peel or chop - but mainly it doesn't go off and doesn't go to waste.
You can ferment your own garlic and chilli easily. Recipe coming soon. We also sell the same fermented garlic we use in our garlic wheatcheese, already fermented for you in a handy 175g jar for £2.50. Preserved by the fermentation process, with no vinegar and no artificial preservatives, fermented garlic is thought to be good for your gut and overall wellbeing.

Great tasting food for everyone

At Herbie's we make simple food using wholefood ingredients, minimal processing and sustainable packaging.

So, whether you're plant-based, vegan, seagan or flexi, or all eating together, we're set on making great tasting food for you to enjoy.

All of our products are made with plants. We don't use any animal products whatsoever.

We use fermentation to develop natural flavours and produce foods that not only taste amazing but, eaten regularly, can also improve your gut health and enhance your wellbeing.

Great tasting, vegan friendly food.

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Next batches will be ready
8th March 2022