Monday, February 9, 2009

Love in the Time of Vegetables

This is a little premature, but can we talk about Valentine's Day for a minute? The cynic's route is way to easy to take here, so I want to try to recount some of the things about this non-holiday that have tickled my fancy. Let me count the ways:

1) Those red, heart-shaped lollipops connected in a string of plastic. They are the Platonic form of the taste of Red.

2) The time my apartment was full of Ninja Turtle valentines scattered in secret places.

3) The year we made the best of a dorm room kitchen and prepared an awesome, all-vegan, ladies only V-Day feast.

4) The Valentine's Day episode of The Simpsons. Beyond good. "I bent my Wookie!"

5) Vegan cooking contests!

Susan at FatFree Vegan Kitchen is sponsoring another year of Vegetable Love, an annual cooking contest in which food bloggers can enter their sultriest, healthiest, veggiest recipes in honor of the Dia de Amantes. So, here's my offering...

Remember those misfit root veggies from a few posts back? Well, wanting to keep it seasonal for this February feast, I turned those guys into a creamy, savory scalloped dish. You could do this with just potatoes, or any combination of root vegetables and get the same result. The starch from the potatoes and rutabaga meld with the rice milk to bind the dish in a heavenly cream, and the onions provide color, crunch and plenty of sass. Aw, it's kinda like they were made for each other... *sniff* No, I'm not crying! I think I just got shallot juice in my eye...

Scalloped Root Vegetables

2 medium russet potatoes, 1 medium rutabaga, 1 medium sweet potato, a handful of sunchokes, all unpeeled, rinsed, thoroughly scrubbed and thinly sliced
1 medium yellow onion, 1 red onion, and one shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
2 c rice milk or oat milk (soy milk will likely break up under the heat)
2 T cornstarch
salt and lotsa pepper
1/2 c herbed breadcrumbs*
minced parsley for garnish

Preheat oven to 375F. Over high heat, add the rice milk to a large pot. Add the cornstarch and whisk until combined, about one minute. Add the root veggies and allow the mixture to come to a boil. Reduce heat and bring to mixture down to a simmer; simmer for about twenty minutes or until the rice milk is mostly evaporated and takes on a creamy texture. Add the salt and, really, lotsa ground pepper. Stir gently to mix in the salt and pepper and distribute the rice milk, but take care not to mush the veggies to a pulp. Pour the mixture into an 8"x8"-ish casserole dish. Add the breadcrumbs. Cover with foil and bake for 40 min. Top with parsley and serve. Serves 6 as a hearty side dish.

*To make the herbed bread crumbs, preheat the oven to a low heat (about 200F). Toast for 15-20 min, or until browned and crisp. Break into small pieces and place in the bowl of a food processor. Add a pinch each of basil, thyme, oregano, and a grinding of black pepper. Process into small crumbs, about 1 minute.


Chef K said...

Shallots in the eye are no laughing matter.

Chris said...

Your description was wonderful - it was almost like I was right there! I like the idea behind this dish and I'm sure it tasted just like you said it did. Great recipe :)

SusanV said...

I love roasted root veggies, so I know that this dish is a winner. Thanks so much for joining the contest!

Michelle said...

Lovely sounding recipe! Root veggies deserve some love. Happy Valentine's Day :-)

Jeni Treehugger said...

Boy does that ever look good, it made my tummy rumble and I've just eaten lunch!!
Good luck in the comp and Happy V Day.

J'Hab@lavidaveggie said...

Chris, Susan, Michelle and Jeni, thank you! I can't say I was in it to win it, but I loved being a part of it! Thanks for all your kind words <3

moonwatcher said...


I found your recipe on Susan's Vegetable Love post and decided to try it! It is really good. I used oat milk because that's what I had. There was some difference in what happened--the milk did thicken but with the moisture from the veggies didn't really evaporate--and I think I actually put a little too much pepper in it--oh, and there were no sunchokes at the co-op so I used turnip as a substitute. Anyway, thank you, it was wonderful, and I will make it again sometime. It is a nice winter recipe.

Happy Vegetable Love to you!


J'Hab@lavidaveggie said...

Hiya moonwatcher, I'm so glad you gave it a shot! Good choice on the oat milk; it's the non-dairy milk that tends to hold up the best under heat. The moisture issue is one I couldn't get past, either. I definitely had a lot in the bottom of the pan after it baked. Next time I'll whisk some more corn starch or agar-agar in with the milk to help the whole thing firm up. Excellent substitute with the turnip, by the way! Turnips need love, too... thanks so much for writing!