October 9, 2011

October Harvest Au Gratin ~ Vegan & Gluten Free

 Yesterday was a lovely day.  We had a sunny day and time to hang in the garden.  It was what we call a sunny day in the PNW, there were still some clouds. We're still getting lots of great produce: potatoes, tomatoes, beets, chard, a couple winter squash, lots of herbs, and even a zucchini.  There are some new eggplant coming out too.  The eggplants seem to like the moist, cool weather.  On the way out there I was thinking about what to do with the squash I had already.  I was thinking of doing some kind of zucchini/winter squash bake.  My granddaughter has been advised to avoid gluten so I want to try to make more and more dishes gluten free. I thought I'd use some brown rice flour or black bean flour and make a roux, but I ended up using par boiled potatoes instead. I came up with a kind of Au Gratin dish.  I think I put a little too much sauce, but it was creamy, warm, colorful, and comforting on a cool fall night.  My son was surprised that I made this up myself and said I should write it down.  He hasn't seen my blog, that's one of the reasons I do this, so I can go back and find dishes I've made like this and make it again sometime.

I made layers of the sliced fresh veggies: butternut squash, sweet potatoes, green and yellow zucchini, fresh beets and chard. I covered them with a sauce I made with a large red potato we dug up yesterday and baked it all until it was tender.  For the sauce I chopped the potato, a couple fresh onions, a shallot and simmered them in about 2 cups water for ten minutes.  I placed them in my Blendtec with a handful of cashews, some coconut spread, nutritional yeast, a dash of tamari, thyme, oregano, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and a dash of cayenne.  This made a warm creamy sauce without any milk or flour. 

The sauce:

About 2 cups chopped potato
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 small to medium shallot chopped
2 cups water

The following ingredients are estimates, I really didn't measure, adjust to your own taste.

1/2 cup cashews
3 TB Earth Balance coconut spread or vegan margarine
2 TB Nutritional yeast
1 tsp Tamari
1 Clove garlic, minced
1 TB Thyme (dried)
1 TB Oregano (dried)
1 tsp ground sea salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

3/4 cup Daiya Mozzarella cheese

Place the chopped potatoes, onions, shallots, & water in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil then cover and gently simmer for ten minutes.  While the potatoes are simmering place the remaining ingredients in a large blender.  When the potatoes have finished simmering let them cool a few minutes then pour the whole thing, including the water in the blender.  Blend until creamy.

Layer the veggies in a 9 x 13 baking dish with a layer of sauce between half of it and on top.  I started with chard leaves, a layer of sliced butternut squash, green and yellow zucchini slices, a couple sliced beets I had from thinning the beets, for the first layer.  The second layer I used sliced sweet potato in place of the butternut squash.

Cover and bake at 400ยบ for about 35 minutes, remove the cover and cook another 10 to 15 minutes until the sauce is bubbling.

I also added some shredded Daiya cheese on the top of each sauce layer.  That was probably overkill, but I wanted my son to enjoy this meal with us and he is still a little leery of all my vegan delights.  It worked, he loved it.  He decided he didn't want any salad with his meal, he might try some later.  Funny, the green salad had most the same ingredients that are in the casserole, they're just raw.

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