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.