Root Vegetable Casserole

Sarah Owens‘ book Sourdough: Recipes for Rustic Fermented Breads, Sweets, Savories, and More is by far one of the best books on sourdough baking for any Crunchy Cook out there.  So good in fact that I have a secret dream of meeting the lady in person (the same is true for Madhur Jaffrey and Amy Chaplin just in case you’re curious).

Returning to the book in question, the recipes are seasonally separated and make use of the wealth of produce available throughout the year in a multitude of ingenious ways.  When you step away from the bread recipes however, there is a liberal use of milk, cheese, eggs and even some meat.  …but when the recipes and culinary aesthetic is so amazing: you get the book and veganize!  That’s what this recipe is.  My (vegan) take on her idea, and the result is rich and decadent in every bite – definitely a special occasion meal.

Yield: 4 servings as a main course, 6-8 as a side dish

What you need for the filling:

  • 1-1/2 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1 green chile, thinly sliced (optional)
  • 7 fresh curry leaves (optional)
  • 1 shallot, halved and sliced
  • 2 small onions, halved and sliced
  • 2 teaspoons S&B Oriental Curry Powder (no substitutes please)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • 250g vegan yogurt (a fermented, unsweetened almond-cashew blend is particularly decadent)
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 medium beets, peeled and quartered (Chioggia beets are particularly pretty)
  • 2 large or 4 small carrots (only peel them if they aren’t organic)
  • 60g beet greens and stems or Swiss chard and stems (about 10 medium-sized leaves), thinly sliced

What you need for the lemon cornbread biscuit topping:

  • 100g cornmeal
  • zest of 1 organic lemon
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 70g virgin coconut oil, refrigerated (cold and hard)
  • 1 stiff flax egg (1 tablespoon flax, ground, combined with 2 tablespoons water and left to gel for 10 minutes or so)
  • 150g starter (not the old starter that’s been sitting in the fridge for a week, make enough the night before to have 150 grams of the fresh stuff ready)
  • 45g vegan yogurt

What you do for the filling:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F.
  2. Heat a cast iron pan over medium flame.  When hot, add the oil and let it heat a bit.  Add the mustard seeds and as soon as they begin to pop (this should happen within a few seconds), add the green chile and curry leaves if using (careful, they’ll splutter).  Stir once or twice and add the sliced onion and shallot.
  3. Stir and fry 8-10 minutes until the onion is soft and browning.  Turn down the heat as necessary.
  4. Mix in the curry powder, cumin, ginger and cinnamon.  Cook another 3-4 minutes, adding splashes of water to prevent scorching and keep the mixture juicy.  Remove from heat and transfer the onion mixture to a large bowl.
  5. Add the vegan yogurt, salt and nutritional yeast to the spice and onion mixture and stir well until a thick sauce forms.
  6. Using a spiralizer or mandolin, slice the beets and carrots very thinly.  Or if you’re up for it, you can also hand slice it all between 1/8″ and 1/16″ thick.  I did.  I regret it.
  7. Add the sliced carrots, beets and greens to the sauce and mix well so everything is evenly coated.                          DSCN1632
  8. Spread the filling evenly in an 8″x8″ baking dish.

What you do for the biscuits and to finish the casserole:

  1. Whisk together the cornmeal, nutritional yeast, lemon zest, cayenne pepper, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.
  2. Cut in the cold coconut oil using two knifes or a pastry cutter until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs.  A few bigger ones are fine.
  3. Stir in the flax “egg” and then the starter.  Add the yogurt and mix to form a moist, spoonable but thick batter.
  4. Spread the biscuit mix over the top of the prepared filling in the baking dish.         DSCN1633
  5. Bake 40 minutes until the biscuit topping is golden and the filling bubbly all around it.  Remove from the oven and let it cool 5 or 10 minutes before serving.


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