I need a recommendation. I have had success substituting beans for meat in a number of baked-bean dishes using spice mixtures from cuisines around the world. I'd like to apply this idea to Greek moussaka, but I can't decide what (dry) bean to use. My gut instinct says, "black beans," but memories of the complete transformation of Navy beans in Boston-style baked beans gives me pause.

Any suggestions?

  • 3
    A quick google search suggest lentils for vegetarians moussaka.
    – Max
    Mar 15, 2021 at 20:05

2 Answers 2


It's a while since I've made (vegetarian) moussaka but as Max says in the comments, lentils are a decent substitute here. I've used Puy lentils or lentilles vert*. You want something that holds a bit of texture/doesn't fall to bits too easily, unlike red lentils. A mix of red lentils and lentilles vert works well in other things for giving the sauce some body and maintaining texture. I haven't tried this for moussaka but do use this mixture for lasagne.

For flavour, I'd also add mushrooms, but you don't have to.

Another thing I'd be tempted to try is urid dal (the larger of two things called black lentils) as I have them for making dal makhani. These would need pre-soaking and longer cooking.

*yes, that is what they're called in my English supermarket; they also sell "green lentils" that are paler and larger.

  • Thanks. I'll try to remember to report on the results!
    – Brian K1LI
    Mar 16, 2021 at 0:31

Many years ago when I was a vegetarian I used to Swear by Sarah Brown's Vegetarian Kitchen', published by the BBC. Though long out of print, many recipes from it still circulate on the internet. There wasn't a 'moussaka equivalent' recipe, there was a take on Shepherds Pie called Red Dragon Pie whose filling was based on aduki beans. The filling for that became the foundation of many variants whenever I was making a dish that traditionally called for minced meat.

The Complete Wholefood Cuisine by Nikki and David Goldbeck includes a recipe for 'Bean Moussaka' which calls for 'lentils, chick-peas, fava or small white beans'. As I recall I used to use the aduki beans in that recipe.

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