It is high time for some Thanksgiving recipes! Every year, I spend an obscene amount of time scouring my cookbook collection, NY Times Cooking and food magazines for inspiration for the perfect Thanksgiving menu. My idea of “perfect” translates into vegan food that is traditional and decadent, yet still relatively healthy and wholesome. So this year, I decided to develop a few recipes of my own that you could serve at Thanksgiving to a table full of vegans, omnivores, or a combination of the two.
I love the idea of a dark leafy green gratin but most recipes are laden with dairy cream and cheese. I created this vegan Kale and Spinach gratin with traditionalists in mind – it looks and tastes decadent, creamy, and cheesy, but you might not need to break out the elastic waisted pants after eating it! The secret is cashew cream and my homemade vegan parmesan cheese (which comes together lightning fast in a food processor). I also used frozen spinach here instead of fresh, not only to make life a little easier, but because I find that the slightly mushy texture of frozen spinach to be perfect in a gratin. I threw in some fresh kale for texture and slight bitterness to balance out all of the creamy cheesy. It think you’ll agree it’s the perfect combo!
Leftovers would be fantastic atop a baked potato or crisp socca, or even mixed into a baked rigatoni. This recipe can easily be adapted to be gluten free by omitting the all-purpose flour and substituting 1 tsp arrowroot powder instead.
Place cashews and water in a high-speed blender and blend on high until totally smooth and liquid is the consistency of heavy cream, about 2 minutes. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to boil and add defrosted spinach and kale. Cook for 2 minutes, then drain and let cool slightly. Once greens are cool enough to handle, gently squeeze out excess liquid.
In a large, heavy bottomed saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes, or until onions are soft and translucent. Add the flour (or arrowroot, if using) and cook 30 seconds longer. Add 2 ½ cups cashew cream (reserving any remaining cream for another use), nutritional yeast, salt, black pepper, and nutmeg. Cook until slightly thickened and heated through, about 2 minutes. Add the cooked kale and spinach to the sauce and stir until combined. Remove from heat.
Transfer mixture into a shallow gratin dish or 2 QT baking dish. Sprinkle vegan parmesan evenly over the top and bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes, or until top is lightly golden. Serve hot.