Wow, it’s almost here! It feels like it’s been forever. Writing a book is very much like giving birth, except the book writing process is usually much longer than 9 months. Kind of like a double pregnancy of sorts, back to back. SO much can happen during that span of time as well. Like, for instance with this book. When I began the book and started writing it, I was not gluten-free. But, just after starting the project (while working on my pizza book simultaneously), it became apparent that I had a problem with gluten. I was getting sick from eating it. That’s a huge monkey-wrench, right? So, since I need to be able to taste and eat the recipes that I create, the recipes would need to be gluten-free from there on out.
The great thing about casseroles though is that you can pick whatever kind of pasta you like for the recipes, so it’s not a big deal. But all of the sauces in the book are naturally gluten-free (if you use gluten-free oat flour and tamari), so all of your bases are covered. The book does have about 3 recipes in it that are definitely not gluten-free, so for those of you that are not GF, you can enjoy them. And for those readers who are, you can simply pass them by, or tweak them to make them gluten-free. If you think this sounds confusing, try writing a book this way; ). It would have been so much easier if I had been able to write this as a gluten-free book.
So, just to be clear, even though most of the recipes are GF, they may not all be marked with the GF icon. This is because in those recipes you have a choice on your pasta, or panko breadcrumbs, bread, or some ingredient that could go either way. In the dessert section, the gluten-free adaption is written as a variation. They are absolutely delicious, and no one would know that they are gluten-free. Seriously! The same with the sauces. They are creamy and delicious, and because they are mostly thickened with whole grain flours (which just happen to be gluten-free), they are so much healthier too!
So there you go. I am so excited about this book and can’t wait to share it with everyone! I will also be posting a few recipes from the book, as well as sharing info on some of my favorite brands of pastas, flours and sauces that I use in the book too.
Now, just for fun, and even though the book isn’t out for another 4 weeks, I’m going to share one of my favorite recipes from the book. Truffled Cauliflower Mac! Enjoy!
Truffled Cauliflower Mac
From Vegan Casseroles by Julie Hasson
Sometimes you can never have enough truffle, or macaroni. This dish is for those times. It has a very rich flavor, with a creamy truffle sauce, steamed cauliflower, and a panko topping. If you happen to have a fresh truffle, you can go crazy and shave a few ultra thin slices into the sauce before baking.
8 ounces dried macaroni (GF or regular)
1/2 head cauliflower, cut into small flowerets
1 recipe Almost Alfredo Sauce, using the truffle variation
Truffle salt or fine sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Two recipes Crumb Topping
Truffle oil, for garnish, optional
Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease 9 x 13-inch glass or ceramic baking dish.
In a large pot of lightly salted boiling water, add the macaroni and cook according to package directions until tender. When the pasta is close to being done, add the cauliflower to the boiling pasta water. You want the cauliflower to be fork tender, and the noodles to be tender. Drain the pasta and cauliflower well, and transfer to a large bowl. Set aside.
Prepare the sauce. In a large bowl, combine the prepared sauce and the cooked macaroni and cauliflower, mixing until the pasta is coated. Add salt and pepper to taste. Scoop the macaroni into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the prepared crumb mixture over the top of the casserole. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the top is nicely browned and the casserole is heated through. Remove from the oven, drizzle the top of the casserole with a little additional truffle oil, if desired, and serve.
Variation: To make a straight truffle mac casserole, simply omit the cauliflower.
Gluten-Free: To make this casserole gluten-free, use a gluten-free macaroni, such as brown rice macaroni, as well as gluten-free panko bread crumbs.
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, corn- starch, 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, for 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.
To make a truffle sauce, to the blender jar add 1 to 3 tablespoons truffle oil to taste and reduce the granu- lated onion to 1⁄2 teaspoon. Add a few sprinkles of freshly grated nutmeg.
Buttery Crumb Topping
A nice buttery crumb topping is my husband’s favorite part of a casserole. It is especially good on everything from mac and cheese to vegetable casseroles, as it adds a nice rich, garlicky crunch. Crumb toppings are also open to a number of variations, depending on how you season them.
Makes about 1⁄2 cup, enough to top an 8- or 9-inch casserole
1⁄2 cup panko breadcrumbs (GF or regular)
2 tablespoons nonhydrogenated vegan
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes
1 clove garlic, pressed or finely minced Pinch of salt
In a small bowl, mix together the panko bread- crumbs, margarine, nutritional yeast, garlic, and a pinch of salt. Adjust seasonings to taste.
Tip: You can substitute olive oil for the margarine, if desired.
Variation: For an herbed-garlic-flavored topping,
add 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs. For a richer top- ping, increase the margarine to 3 tablespoons.
Gluten-Free: Use gluten-free panko breadcrumbs. My favorite brand is Ian’s, which is also egg-free and dairy-free.
Printed with permission from Vegan Casseroles by Julie Hasson. Running Press (October, 2014)