Vegan Eggplant and Chickpea Pastitsio

Pastitsio pan.jpg

Pastitsio is classically a Greek pasta and lamb casserole. A Greek comfort food much like macaroni and cheese only with lamb, eggplant and tomatoes and a feta custard over the top. The name is derived from the Italian word that means “mess”.  And it does look a lot like a messy lasagna. Oh but those mysterious flavors abound!


I have a classical rendition of Pastitsio in my book Sharing the Table, A Northwest Chef Instructor’s Quest to Recreate Memorable Meals. To turn this into a vegan and plant-based dish I first need to replace the lamb with chickpea. Next the egg/feta custard was turned into a nut or hemp milk sauce thickened with tapioca starch then flavored with miso, spices, and nutritional yeast. Amazingly the flavor and texture are quite similar to the original recipe. My husband kept saying “what is that wonderful flavor”? That would be the cinnamon and Greek oregano. If you do not have Greek oregano replace it with dried marjoram. The fresh mint is a final refreshing touch!

Pastitsio ingred.jpg
Yield: 6 servings

Vegan Eggplant and Chickpea Pastitsio

A Greek comfort food, Pastitsio is like a messy lasagna. In fact, the word pastitsio comes from the Italian word that means "messy". This vegan or vegetarian rendition uses chickpeas in place of the classical lamb and a custard topping made from a nut or hemp milk thickened with cornstarch rather than eggs and flour with nutritional yeast in place of feta (or not). Make it more nutritious by using whole wheat penne pasta or other gluten-free pasta.


  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 cup onion, small diced

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

  • 1 large eggplant, ½ inch dice (about 4 cups)

  • 1 teaspoon Greek oregano

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

  • 2 (14.5 ounces) cans diced tomatoes with juice

  • 1 (15.5 ounces) can chickpeas, drained and washed

  • 2 cups hemp or cashew milk

  • 2 tablespoons white miso

  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

  • ½ teaspoon paprika

  • ½ teaspoon onion powder

  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

  • 5 tablespoons tapioca starch

  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast for vegan (3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese for vegetarian)
  • 8 ounces penne pasta (about 2 cups)
  • ¼ cup fresh mint leaves, chopped (optional)


  1. In a large non-reactive sauce pot heat the oil until it shimmers over medium heat. Add the onions, cook until softened, about five minutes. Add the garlic and cook an additional minute.

  2. Add the salt, eggplant, oregano, cinnamon, pepper, and tomatoes. Cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally until the eggplant is soft, about fifteen to twenty minutes. Add the chickpeas and heat through. Taste, Think, Transform with salt and/or pepper. 

  3. While the eggplant is cooking make the vegan bechamel by thoroughly blending the hemp or cashew milk with the miso, nutmeg, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and nutritional yeast in a blender or by whisking in a saucepan. Over medium-high heat, in a saucepan whisk constantly until it thickens. Remove from the heat and reserve warm.

  4. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook for the length of time that the package recommends. (Different types of pasta will take different cooking times.) Drain the pasta and mix into the eggplant mixture.

  5. Place the eggplant mixture in a nine by thirteen-inch baking pan. Pour the bechamel evenly over the top. Place the dish into the preheated oven. Bake until the top is golden brown and bubbly, about twenty-five to thirty minutes. Remove from the oven to a cooling rack. Allow setting for five minutes before serving. Top with a sprinkling of fresh mint.

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