Updated: Sep 21
As I've said before on this blog, whole food plant-based (wfpb) eating takes a little rethinking on what a meal looks like (check out this post on that topic). I think dinner gives new wfpb eaters the most trouble. What do you actually make for dinner? In general, dinner will consist of a main dish and one or two sides. For me, about 98% of the time, the side is a big green salad with lots of fresh veggies. But the main dish can keep people scratching their heads. Without a piece of meat or fish what exactly is a main dish? The answer is anything you like! And what I love is a good, hearty casserole. Once assembled you can pop it in the oven and then make your salad or other dishes or use that time to do something else. And another plus - casseroles almost always have leftovers.
A whole food plant-based casserole is a combination of vegetables, grains, herbs, spices and even fruit. It's anything you can think of that you like to eat and you think would taste good when baked together. Let your imagination run wild as I did one day when I was looking through my pantry and found a bag of stuffing.
I love stuffing, and I remember when I was a child that my mother would make a casserole with stuffing and chicken. I could not remember everything she put in it, but I recall it was creamy so Campbell's soup was probably in there somewhere. I decided to create my own using potatoes and my un-chicken tofu instead of chicken and a creamy cashew sauce. The result was a magnificent stick-to-the-ribs, satisfying, comforting main dish reminiscent of the casserole my mother made in the "old days." I hope you enjoy this luscious dish. It's terrific for Thanksgiving or anytime!
Layered Stuffing and Potato Casserole
4 large potatoes of choice (I used red; Idaho or Russet would work well too)
For the Stuffing:
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 bag whole grain stuffing (try to find one that is just whole grain bread and herbs)
1 cup vegetable broth, heated, plus 1/4 cup additional broth for drizzle
1 recipe un-chicken tofu
1 1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
For the Sauce:
1/2 cup raw, unsalted cashews
1 1/2 cups plant milk (I used oat milk)
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 cup spelt flour (or any whole grain flour)
1/4 cup lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
Parsley or chives, chopped, for garnish, optional
Slice potatoes into 1/2 inch thick rounds. Place in a steamer basket set over boiling water (you may have to do this in batches depending on the size of your steamer). Steam potatoes until just tender. Set aside to cool.
In a non-stick fry pan, sauté the onion and celery for 10 minutes until soft (if no non-stick pan just add a little water or broth to prevent sticking). Transfer the sautéed onion and celery to a large mixing bowl. Add the stuffing, un-chicken tofu, the 1 cup heated vegetable broth and poultry seasoning to the bowl. Stir well to combine. Set aside.
Blend all sauce ingredients in a high-powered blender until smooth.
To assemble the casserole, spread about 1/4 cup of the sauce over the bottom of a 9x13 oven-safe casserole dish. Place a layer of steamed potatoes over the sauce. It's fine if they overlap a little but generally you want a single layer. Next spoon a layer of the stuffing mixture over the potatoes. Repeat these layers - sauce, potatoes, stuffing, - two more times ending with stuffing. Drizzle the top with the remaining 1/4 cup vegetable broth. Cover tightly with foil and bake 30 minutes at 400°. Remove foil and bake uncovered 10 more minutes. Let cool and cut into squares. Garnish with parsley or chives. Serve immediately. Any leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for several days.