I cook for a big family and live on leftovers, so I double most recipes, including this one. My kids had so many second-helpings of creamy vegetable casserole that there was nothing left for lunch today. Good for them, bad for me.
Creamy vegetable casserole is true comfort food, and yet it’s the pinnacle of a whole food planted based meal. It’s very low budget as you can use whatever vegetables you have on hand, mixing fresh, frozen and canned supplies. Creamy vegetable casserole is simple, fast, warm and delicious. The secret here is in the creamy, filling and flavorful sauce. Top with bread crumbs, baked garlic tofu and fresh herbs and you’ve got a culinary masterpiece.
This recipe was inspired by Molly at http://www.cleanfooddirtygirl.com. I cannot say enough about her meal plans. Every week, I get a shopping list, step-by-step batch-cooking instructions, and every meal is the best ever. Check her out!
Store-bought vegan cheeses do the job and I use them when necessary. But less is way more. They are filled with oils and additives. They highlight the difference between “vegan” and “whole food plant based diet.” The later is best, but sometimes compromise is called for.
Lately there are lots of recipes out there for homemade plant cheeses. This one is adapted from Molly at Clean Food Dirty Girl. I was pleasantly surprised. I doubled the batch as I cook for a crowd, and have served it in soups, over veggies, made toasted cheese, quickie pizzas and even eaten it plain. The flavor is fantastic and it reheats well-enough.
Roasted Red Pepper Romesco Sauce
Since discovering Molly’s recipes @CleanFoodDirtyGirl, my weekly menus have expanded and improved. Don’t get me wrong, I could survive on my signature cashew cream forever. But cashews are expensive and high in calories. It’s been eye opening to see that white beans, tofu and most vegetables can be used to make cream sauces (check out this alfredo recipe) that are low calorie and high flavor.
It’s funny that after 25 years of cooking for myself, I still discover blind spots. Despite my kitchen competency, I had no clue how roasted red pepper sauce or soup was made. When instructions are included in the title, the obvious can be hide.
This is adapted from Clean Food Dirty Girl. I subscribe to Molly’s weekly meal plans and every recipe is AMAZING.
I made this at Thanksgiving and it was the bomb. In several ways. The mouth-watering aroma advertises a traditional flavor and satisfying spices. The texture is hearty–from a few feet away the only way to know that it isn’t an actual meatloaf is the lack of grease.
I shouldn’t have said anything. A vegan meatloaf isn’t sexy. Maybe that’s because meatloaf has a history of being a low-budget dumping ground for cheap meat and roughage scraps. Maybe it’s because people don’t like “fake” meat and don’t appreciate the healthy diet agenda being shoved down their throat while they are trying to swallow the turkey.
There is nothing fake about this dish. The only thing lacking authenticity is a title worthy of it’s culinary genius. It’s whole food plant-based perfection. “Nut-loaf,” “bean cake” and “mushroom pate” aren’t contenders either. We need something exotic that does this recipe justice. I’m at a loss. “The meal that shall not be named?” Maybe we can use a symbol after the meal formerly know as Øπ? Ok. I’ll stop.
However, this “whatever you want to call it” is AMAZING. Everyone that actually bothered to try it raved. It rivaled the dressing, potatoes and gravy, creamed corn and green beans. And it killed the turkey. Well, not technically. You understand.
This recipe is another from Molly @cleanfooddirtygirl. I added the creamy mushroom garlic gravy option, but she is the genius and I am the student. I subscribe to her weekly meal plans and am never disappointed. I’ve tried several recipes over my vegan years, and none have ever sat up and smiled like this.
Serve this with traditional comfort sides like mashed potatoes and gravy, or get creative as I did with lightly sautéed greens, walnuts and tomatoes.
Sauce Option #1 (a sweet tomato sauce)
½ cup tomato paste
2 Tbsp. water
1 Tbsp. honey or maple syrup
2 Tbsp. yellow mustard
½ tsp. onion powder
½ tsp. smoked paprika
Sauce Option #2 (creamy mushroom garlic gravy)
¼ cup cashews
¼ cup veggie broth
½ tsp. onion powder
½ tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1 small can of mushroom pieces (4-6 oz)
1 cup water
½ cup uncooked steel cut oats, rinsed and drained
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 Tbsp. ground flax seed
½ cup uncooked steel cut oats, rinsed and drained
4 cups mushrooms (about 12 oz), chopped
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup bread crumbs (toast 4-5 slices of bread and blend)
¾ cup chopped pecans and/or walnuts
½ cup diced yellow onion
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
½ Tbsp smoked paprika
2 tsp. garlic granules
1½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
¼ cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 5”x 9” loaf pan with parchment paper, including the sides.
Decide which sauce you want. For sauce option #1 (sweet tomato), place all of the sauce ingredients into a small bowl. Whisk until smooth. Set aside. For sauce option #2 (creamy mushroom garlic), blend ingredients until creamy and set aside.
In a small sauce pan, combine the water, steel cut oats, Worcestershire sauce and tomato paste. Bring to a boil, turn heat to low and cover pan with a lid. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasional so it doesn’t stick. Set aside and allow to cool.
Toast the bread, tear into small pieces and use blender to process into soft crumbs. Transfer crumbs to a large mixing bowl.
Blend mushrooms, pinto beans, pecans, onion, flax, smoked paprika, garlic granules, salt and pepper until everything is chopped into small pieces but not pureed (10-20 seconds). Stop intermittently to scrape down sides. Add mixture to breadcrumbs, along with steel cut oats mixture and nondairy milk. Mix until everything is well combined.
Place mixture into lined loaf pan and pack it down with a spoon. Evenly spread the sauce over the top. Bake for 65 minutes.
Allow loaf to cool for 15 minutes. When it’s cool enough to handle, lift out of the pan by the parchment paper and set on a cutting board. Allow to cool for 10 additional minutes and cut into slices. Serve on a platter.
Lemon turmeric tahini dressing recipe by Molly @CleanFoodDirtyGirl. Check her out. I subscribe to her weekly meal plans and she wins for most unique, delicious, home-run recipes ever!
This isn’t just salad dressing. It’s a bit spicy, a lot savory and so unique. After one taste, you might just grab a spoon and eat it right out of the blender. Pour it on salads, stir-frys, roasted roots, steamed veggies, soups, bread, pasta. . . anything and everything. It might even work in lieu of bail money. It’s that good.
I’ll be honest, the ingredients scared me a little. Where do you get coconut aminos, ume plum vinegar and tahini? How does Molly @CleanFoodDirtyGirl come up with this stuff? Week after week, most of her recipes call for them at least once, and there are no simple substitutes. Most specialty groceries carry them but you can also just one-click them on my Amazon shopping list. Also, there is a work-around for the tahini. Tahini can be expensive and loaded with extra oil. As tahini is processed raw sesame seeds, buy hulled seeds in bulk, store in the freezer, and blend for a few minutes with any liquids the recipe calls for before adding the rest of the ingredients. (sesame seeds are on my Amazon list too).
P.S. This will keep in the refrigerator, so consider doubling the recipe. Store in a 1-quart mason jar (makes about 3 cups) and try to make it last. Just try.
Lemon Turmeric Tahini Dressing
makes about 1 1/2 cups
½ cup water
½ cup tahini (or ½ cup raw hulled sesame seeds)
2 garlic cloves
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. Liquid Braggs (or other soy sauce)
2 tsp. coconut aminos
2 tsp. maple syrup
2 tsp. chopped ginger
1 tsp. Ume Plum vinegar
2 tsp. turmeric
½ tsp. coriander powder
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
¼ tsp. salt
Blend on high for 2 minutes until creamy and smooth.
If using sesame seeds, combine seeds and water and blend for 2-3 minutes until super smooth. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend 2 more minutes.
Serve over roasted beets or other root veggies, cauliflower, steamed greens, other veggies or salad. (aka serve over anything and everything.)