Does anybody make casseroles anymore? I’ll be the first to admit that just the sound of the word is enough to give me flashbacks to the potato chip-sprinkled, tuna and cream of mushroom soup concoctions that were so popular when I was growing up. They were enough to drive a kid to vegetarianism, which, now that I think of it, is a point in their favor.
But maybe it’s time that we vegans take it upon ourselves to change the casserole’s image. After all, potatoes, grains, and pasta–all naturally vegan ingredients–are the backbones of most casseroles, and without the artery-clogging meat, cheese, cream, and cream of this-or-that soup, casseroles can actually be healthy (and easy) main dishes. The one drawback that I can see is having to turn on the oven during these hot summer months, but I justify that by doing all my cooking in the oven at the same time. Case in point, this potato casserole: roast a big pan of vegetables at the same time, add a green salad, and you’ll have a complete meal without having to use the stove at all.
The recipe was inspired by all those potato, cheese, and ham concoctions of yesteryear, but instead of cheese I use a variation on the sauce from Macaroni and Cheeze, and instead of ham I substitute a simplified version of tempeh bacon. To be honest, the tempeh breaks down so that it’s like neither ham nor bacon, but crumbly and delicious in its own right. Though the recipe looks complicated, once you’ve got the casserole assembled, it practically cooks itself; you’ll have plenty of time to toss a salad, pour yourself a glass of wine or juice, and kick back and enjoy the aromas wafting from your oven.
One more thing: The family says to tell you that this recipe is kid-friendly and husband-approved…which is a good thing because you’ll probably have enough leftovers for the whole family’s lunch the next day.
Golden Potato and Tempeh Casserole
Fresh tarragon gives this casserole a real spark of flavor, but if you don’t have it or don’t enjoy tarragon, you can leave it out.
6-8 ounces tempeh
1 cup vegetable broth
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon Liquid Smoke
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 1/4 cups water
1 cup plain, unsweetened soymilk
3/4 cup nutritional yeast
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt (optional)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon stoneground mustard
1/2 teaspoon Spanish paprika
1 pinch cayenne
2 tablespoons tahini
2 teaspoons white miso
1 teaspoon fresh tarragon, snipped (optional)
1 1/2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes
black pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon vegan Parmesan, such as almond parmesan (optional)
Slice the tempeh about 1/4-inch thick. In a flat, microwavable baking dish arrange the tempeh slices in a single layer. Mix the remaining ingredients and pour over the tempeh.
In the microwave, cook on high power for 3 minutes. Turn or rearrange any pieces that were not covered by broth and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Then cook at 50% power for 3 more minutes. Allow the tempeh to stay in the broth until you’re ready to assemble the casserole.
Make the sauce by putting all the sauce ingredients except the tarragon into a blender and blending until completely pureed. Stir in the tarragon just before using the sauce.
Preheat the oven to 400F. Oil a large, 3-quart casserole (or use two smaller casseroles). Wash the potatoes and cut them in half lengthwise. Slice each half into 1/4-inch slices.
Put half of the potato slices in the bottom of the casserole dish. Lift the tempeh out of its marinade and arrange it on top. Put the remaining potatoes over the tempeh. Stir the sauce and pour it over the potatoes. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper and cover tightly.
Bake for 45 minutes. Remove the cover, sprinkle with vegan Parmesan, and bake for 10-15 more minutes, until potatoes are tender and sauce has thickened. Remove from the oven and let stand a few minutes before serving.
Makes 6-8 servings. One sixth of the recipe provides 281 Calories (kcal); 6g Total Fat; (18% calories from fat); 18g Protein; 42g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 839mg Sodium; 6g Fiber. Weight Watchers: 5 Flex Points.