Vegan Casseroles…The Yummiest Review of My Life and a GIVEAWAY!!!

The name alone should sound like a miracle!

The name alone should sound like a miracle!

 

I am still struggling to find a better word than “WOW!” to describe this book…This book wasn’t just created for vegan families but this was created for those who like to entertain or go to their local vegan potlucks and they want to provide a meal that is not only fuss free but also delicious.  I’ll admit, casseroles have gotten a bad name over the years…Mine was an incident when I was seven or eight years old and my mother found a recipe for something called “Busy Day Casserole” and the meal was so nasty that I prayed the next time my mom decided to have a “busy day” she would just get take out instead!  Well this book breaks the stereotype and now even in the vegan community, we have the best casseroles in town all thanks to the genius that is Julie Hasson!
Full disclosure…This post is more than a review.  I actually bought this book before I was offered to review it and I fell in love with it!  I am the type of reviewer that will only speak from a place of sheer honesty because I feel like I have a duty to do so when it comes to leading others to good vegan food.  This cookbook has yet to disappoint me.  I have used this cookbook for days where I was booked solid with day to day activities and also when I had guests over and didn’t feel like slaving over a hot stove.  Also it would be a crime if I didn’t mention that this book is filled to the brim with gluten free options (the author herself is gluten free) and also if you are oil free…guess what???  You got easy options too on many of the recipes!

My new house has a fully open kitchen (which I will be taking advantage of when I start vlogging!) so it was fun to throw together an elegant casserole and show my guests how simple and tasty veganism can actually be.  So without any further delay, I am going to share with you two of my personal favorite recipes from the cookbook, Vegan Casseroles, and a chance to win a BRAND NEW BLENTEC!!!  Yep, you heard it right….one of you will win a new BlendTec Designer 725 Blender!  Five runners up will receive a copy of Vegan Casseroles so you can make some fabulous meals at home.  THIS GIVEAWAY ENDS ON DECEMBER 11TH!!!  Therefore, please enter this contest ASAP!!!

Now I give to you guys my favorite recipe by far in this book, Mujadara.  The recipe is not only inexpensive, but the flavors will convince anyone that you worked on this meal all day.  Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of the ingredients!!!

This casserole should be called "Crack in a Pan"  its a simple recipe but you'll be coming back for seconds and thirds in no time!

This casserole should be called “Crack in a Pan”.  It’s a simple recipe but you’ll be coming back for seconds and thirds in no time!

 

Reprinted with permission from VEGAN CASSEROLES © 2014 by Julie Hasson, Running Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group.

Mujadara (Gluten Free)

I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for mujadara, with its sweet flavor of caramelized onions layered with fluffy rice and savory lentils. It is a deliciously comforting dish. This recipe is adapted from a mujadara recipe by Faith Durand, who had the brilliant idea of baking it all together in a casserole dish, without precooking the rice or lentils.

Serves 4 to 6

 

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large yellow or sweet onion, cut in half and thinly sliced

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

3/4 cup brown lentils

3/4 cup uncooked brown or white basmati rice

1 teaspoon ground cumin

4 cups steaming-hot vegetable broth, or 4 cups steaming-hot water with 1 to 11/2 tablespoons vegan chicken base, such as Better Than Bouillon, or to taste

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Minced fresh parsley, for garnish

 

Heat the oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sprinkle with the salt. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring as needed. Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for about 25 minutes, or until the onions are a deep brown color.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease a 13 x 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish.

Scoop the caramelized onions into the prepared baking dish. Stir in the lentils, rice, cumin, and hot vegetable broth. Cover the baking dish tightly with a double layer of aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour, if using white basmati rice, or 75 minutes if using brown basmati rice, until the rice and lentils are tender and have absorbed all of the liquid. Add salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle with minced parsley.

 

And now onto my other favorite in this book….Remember the infamous spinach dip served at parties???  Sometimes there was a dip soooo good that all you wanted to do was steal the dish and run off in a dark corner somewhere in order to eat it all with a spoon without any judgement???  Well now, it’s a casserole and it’s something you can serve at dinner without any regrets…You’re welcome 😉

Creamy Spinach Florentine - Vegan Casseroles

Creamy Spinach Florentine…It’s like someone brought a party to dinner!

Reprinted with permission from VEGAN CASSEROLES © 2014 by Julie Hasson, Running Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group.

Creamy Spinach Florentine

Ever since I was a child, I have adored creamed spinach. This casserole totally reminds me of the stuffed spinach crèpes I would order as a teenager at this little crèpe restaurant near our house. I could never get enough of them. This casserole doesn’t disappoint, with a luscious creamy sauce, spinach, and some dry sherry thrown in for good measure.

Serves 4

 

8 ounces dried shell pasta or macaroni

1 (10-ounce) bag frozen spinach, thawed

1 recipe Almost Alfredo Sauce (see below)

3 to 4 tablespoons dry sherry, depending how strong of a sherry taste you like

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes

1 teaspoon granulated onion

3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

 

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease an 8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish.

In a large pot of lightly salted boiling water, add the pasta and cook according to package directions until al dente. Don’t overcook the pasta, especially if you’re using one that is gluten-free. Drain the pasta well and transfer to a large bowl.

Drain most of the liquid out of the spinach by gently squeezing it, but don’t squeeze it completely dry. Add the spinach to the pasta, along with the sauce, mixing until the pasta is thickly coated. Add the sherry, Dijon mustard, nutritional yeast, granulated onion, and nutmeg, stirring well. Add salt and pepper, and adjust seasonings to taste. Scoop the pasta mixture into the prepared baking dish. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until hot and slightly bubbly around the edges. Remove from the oven and serve.

Gluten-Free: Use a gluten-free oat flour in the sauce and gluten-free pasta (my favorite here is brown rice macaroni).

Almost Alfredo Sauce

Although this isn’t exactly a true alfredo sauce with loads of cream and butter, it is an all-purpose creamy white sauce, which works really well in so many recipes. There are a number of variations for it, from adding truffle oil to white wine. It’s so versatile, that it may just become your new secret sauce.

Makes about 3 cups

 

21/2 cups plain unsweetened soymilk

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup raw unsalted cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours and drained

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes

3 tablespoons oat flour

2 tablespoons cornstarch

11/4 teaspoons fine sea salt, or more to taste

1 teaspoon granulated onion

 

In the jar of a blender, combine the soymilk, water, cashews, nutritional yeast, oat flour, cornstarch, salt, and granulated onion. Blend the mixture at high speed until completely smooth and no bits of nuts remain. If you don’t have a big blender, blend the mixture in two batches.

Transfer the mixture to a large saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Bring the sauce to a simmer, whisking continuously. Once the mixture comes to a simmer, reduce the heat slightly and cook, whisking continuously until thickened, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Tip: Use a good-tasting unsweetened soymilk for this sauce, as the flavor really comes through. If you’re using a high-speed blender, you can skip the soaking step for the cashews and just use them dry. Add a little extra water to blend if needed.

Variations:

To make a truffle sauce, to the blender jar add 1 to 3 tablespoons truffle oil to taste and reduce the granulated onion to 1/2 teaspoon. Add a few sprinkles of freshly grated nutmeg.

To make a white wine sauce, replace 3/4 cup of soymilk with an equal amount of white wine.

To make this sauce lower in fat, reduce the cashews to 1/3 cup.

Gluten-Free: Use a gluten-free oat flour.

 

So I hope these two recipes serve as inspiration the next time you plan your weekly dinner menu and I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.  There are other recipes in the book that I enjoyed such as Baked Sweet Potato and Apple Casserole, Italian Stuffed Peppers with Fennel and Garlic, Zucchini, Corn and Black Bean Enchiladas, Creamy Rice and Dill Casserole, and Taco Casserole just to name a few!  There’s even a Make it Your Way casserole that gives you a blueprint into coming up with your own creations using things you have on hand….how cool is that???

Finally, last but certainly NOT least is your chance to win your very own BlendTec Designer 725 Blender.  There is only one winner selected for this prize but 5 runners up will receive their very own copy of Vegan Casseroles.  All you have to do is follow the instructions below.  Good luck to all of you!!!

 
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11 thoughts on “Vegan Casseroles…The Yummiest Review of My Life and a GIVEAWAY!!!

  1. Hahaha,Robin have I told you about my blender woes? 😉 I know I have, so I’m entering. And since the cookbook is on my wish list anyway… it couldn’t hurt to try. <3 Adding at least one of these to the menu this week. Will let you know how it goes.

    • If there’s anyone I hope who wins, it’s definitely you 😉 This giveaway is actually done through Julie Hasson’s publishing company so I really have no power over who wins…The best I can do is send all the good vibes I can!

  2. There’s a lot of YUM in this book, but that Creamy Spinach Florentine is at the top of my list. Weird question time: can I be a runner-up if my name is picked? I’m serious! I have a Vitamix and my daughter has a Blendtec so no blender needed around here. I would really like to have a copy of that book though!

  3. Love the post! I would love to try all of them, but probably the spinach florentine first!
    Thanks for a great cookbook recommendation! Added to my wish list!

  4. I would definitely have to try the sweet potato and apple. It sounds like it would be delicious and I know the whole family would enjoy it.

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