My family tends to eat meals that fall into the vegan category on a regular basis. If you’ve read my previous blog articles, you know I don’t run an exclusively vegan home by any means. I do, however, attempt to make fruits and vegetables the basis of our diet, so many vegan and vegetarian meals naturally follow in my home. One of my favorite vegan recipes is a dairy-free cheese sauce made from raw cashews, roasted red peppers, and nutritional yeast. It sounds weird, right? It’s actually amazing and I use it to make creamy, but delicious dairy-free dishes all the time.
Rutabaga isn’t what you would call a staple in the average American household. In fact, I’m guessing that a number of people reading this article have never cooked one, and possibly have never eaten one. It seems that our food culture has become so potato-obsessed that we sometimes forget about this tasty root vegetable! The rutabaga’s flavor is pretty “meh” when eaten raw, and has a slight bitterness to it, but when it’s cooked it sweetens up, becomes savory, and can be used in dishes in a similar way as a potato.
This dish features my favorite dairy-free cheese sauce paired with the under-appreciated rutabaga, and tied together with sweet potato, kale, and thyme to create a savory, cheesy winter casserole.
Cheesy Vegan Rutabaga Casserole
Prep Time: 30 minutes Cook Time: 40 minutes
- 3 rutabagas/approximately 1 1/2 lbs
- 1 lb sweet potatoes
- 1 large sweet onion
- 2 Tbsp water
- 1 bunch of kale
- 1 C vegetable broth
- 1 C raw cashews
- 1 C roasted red peppers (approx 2 whole – I used canned)
- 1/2 C nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp thyme
- 1 tsp garlic
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- olive oil cooking spray
- parsley for garnish
1. The night before you plan on making this recipe, soak your cashews in water so that they are completely submerged. Overnight they will become soft and plump.
2. Coarsely cut kale and sauté in a skillet over medium heat by adding 1 C of vegetable broth to the pan instead of oil. Cook until the vegetable broth has evaporated and the kale is wilted, then set aside.
3. Dice onions and sauté in a pan with 2 Tbsp of water until onions begin to soften and the water is evaporated, then remove from heat.
4. Drain the water from the cashews. Using a hand mixer, puree the cashews, red pepper, and the nutritional yeast together.
5. Mix thyme, garlic, salt, and pepper (by hand) into your dairy-free cheese sauce.
6. Thinly slice rutabagas and sweet potatoes into 1/8 inch coins. You can do this using a knife or a mandolin slicer.
7. Now all of your ingredients are prepped. Lightly spray a 2.5 quart casserole dish with olive oil cooking spray and place your prepped ingredients within reach.
8. Imagine dividing your dairy-free sauce into thirds. Place the first third onto the bottom of your casserole dish. Then build layers as follows: rutabagas, onions, sweet potatoes, kale. Add a second layer of cheese sauce, then again – rutabaga, onion, sweet potato, and the remainder of the cheese sauce.
9. Bake the casserole in a 350º F oven for 40-45 minutes, or until the casserole is fork-tender.
10. Allow the casserole to rest for 10 minutes before serving, then sprinkle with minced parsley.