I wish I had a cute story behind this not-so-cute dish, but the truth is that I saw a hash brown casserole recipe online and wanted to fat-free veganize it. So I did. I threw out all the butter, the cheese, the sour cream, the cream of chicken-parts soup, as well as the corn flakes on top, and what I had left was a package of hash brown potatoes–and the need for a really good sauce. So I turned to my favorite cheesy sauce, which can magically transform even the most mundane ingredients into instant comfort food.
As you know, I can’t resist the impulse to turn side dishes into one-pot meals, so I chopped up some kale and added a can of chickpeas, which resulted in one of the least attractive casseroles I’ve ever seen (and casseroles aren’t generally known for their beauty). But it tasted rich and comforting, with less than half of the fat of the original (even though my servings are much larger) and none of the cholesterol. And as an added bonus, it’s gluten-free!
I’ve been having fun playing with the Vine video app on my iPhone. Here’s me “shucking” the kale, which is the quickest way to remove the stems. (Click the video to make it stop!)
Healthy Hash Brown Casserole
Kale and chickpeas give this comfort food a nutritional boost and turn it from a side to a main dish, but if you want to make the more traditional side dish, see the notes at the end of the recipe.
- 1 1/4 cups water
- 1 cup plain, sugar-free non-dairy milk
- 3/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/4 cup raw cashews or 2 tablespoons tahini, optional
- 3 tablespoons potato starch or cornstarch
- 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 – 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (omit for low-sodium diets)
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
- black pepper to taste
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
- 12 ounces kale, stems removed and leaves chopped
- 16 ounces frozen Southern-style hash brown potatoes, thawed (see notes below)
- 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Oil a 11×9-inch baking dish.
- Place sauce ingredients in blender and blend at high speed until smooth.
- Heat a large, deep non-stick skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. (Add water by the tablespoon if needed to prevent sticking.) Stir in the garlic, kale, and 2 tablespoons of water; cover tightly. Cook, stirring every 60 seconds, until kale has wilted to about half its volume.
- Add the sauce, hash browns, and chickpeas. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce begins to thicken.
- Pour into prepared baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake until casserole is set (no longer liquid in the middle), 10-15 minutes. Serve hot.
To make a more traditional style casserole, leave out the kale and chickpeas and use a 32-ounce package of hash browns instead.
Be sure to buy diced hash browns with no oil added. They should contain about 70 calories and no fat per serving. If they aren’t available, peel and cut regular potatoes into 1/2-inch cubes.
Preparation time: 15 minute(s) | Cooking time: 60 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 8
Nutrition (per serving, using cashews and soy milk): 230 calories, 35 calories from fat, 4.2g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 490mg sodium, 788mg potassium, 38.4g carbohydrates, 8.1g fiber, 1.1g sugar, 13.6g protein.
Nutrition (per serving, without cashews or tahini): 209 calories, 21 calories from fat, 2.6g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 489.6mg sodium, 764.1mg potassium, 37.3g carbohydrates, 8g fiber, less than 1g sugar, 13g protein.