Time: 1 1/2 hours || Active time: 30 minutes
It’s casserole season! Time to spend a little more time in the kitchen, time for potlucks and gatherings, time to sit in front of the TV watching Little House On The Prairie reruns and eating an entire casserole by yourself, am I right?
The original inspiration for this was my boyfriend’s description of Scalloped Potatoes and Ham. Not something I ever had as a child, but I can see the appeal. Cream of celery soup, tender layers of thinly sliced potato, browned on top, what’s not to love? Well, besides that ham. This casserole is creamy, dreamy, rich and made smoky with the addition of Eggplant Bacon.
I actually see a world of possibility here…swap the potatoes out for root vegetables or sweet potatoes, add roasted red peppers or fennel, use tempeh bacon instead; this casserole is your template! And if you’re simply just searching for a perfect scalloped potato recipe, this might be it, so go ahead and leave the bacon out. These would be perfect for any holiday table, or anywhere mashed potatoes would be appropriate.
The key to perfectly cooked potatoes is to slice them thinly – aim for between 1/8 and 1/4 thick. And seal the casserole in tinfoil until potatoes are easily pierced with a fork, then (and only then) do you uncover the casserole to let everything get nice and brown.
Other notes for this recipe:
~Slice the potatoes when the onions are cooking, that way they don’t turn brown while you’re waiting for everything else to be ready.
~You can actually use roasted cashews here if you like. I usually use unroasted to make cashew creme, but I was out of it and the roasted ones worked just fine!
~If you’re making the eggplant bacon, this will take considerably more time, so add 30 minutes to your cooking time.
~If you’re looking for a gluten-free option, I love to make breadcrumbs out of gluten-free pretzels. You can also sub the breadcrumbs with 2 tablespoons cornstarch.
~If you don’t have a rectangular 2 quart casserole, square will work, too.
1 cup whole cashews soaked in water for 2 hours or up to overnight
2 cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 ribs celery, thinly sliced
1/4 cup store-bought breadcrumbs (if using homemade, increase to 1/3 cup)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Fresh black pepper
3/4 teaspoons salt
2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled, thinly sliced (about 3 large)
1 recipe Eggplant Bacon
Chopped flat leaf parsley for garnish (optional)
Place the drained cashews and vegetable broth in a food processor and blend until completely smooth, scraping the sides of the food processor with a spatula occasionally to make sure you get everything. This could take 5 minutes.
In the meantime, preheat a large pan over medium heat. Saute the onions and celery in the oil, along with a dash of salt. Cook until onions are nice and brown, about 10 minutes. Add the breadcrumbs and toss to coat onions and celery. Cook until the breadcrumbs turn a few shades darker, about 3 minutes.
Now is a good time to preheat your oven to 350 F.
Pour the cashew mixture into the pan and lower heat a bit. Mix well. Add lemon juice, several dashes black pepper and salt. Let cook for 2 minutes, it should begin to thicken. Taste for salt and adjust seasoning if needed.
Now we’ll put this baby together!
Lightly spray a 2 quart casserole rectangular with cooking spray (or lightly grease with olive oil). Pour half of the sauce into the casserole. Now arrange potatoes and eggplant into the casserole, dredging potatoes in sauce a bit as you layer. They should be in slightly overlapping layers, with a slice of bacon in between each potato.
Pour the remaining sauce over the potatoes. They should be mostly submerged. Use a rubber spatula to spread the sauce on if needed.
Seal tightly with tin foil and bake for about 45 minutes, or until potatoes are easily pierced with a fork. Remove foil and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, until nice and brown.
Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and serve!