Looking for vegan Thanksgiving sides? This yukon gold potato gratin with cashew béchamel and shiitake mushrooms is sure to please everyone at your table.
November 7th. It is November 7th, guys! Who else out there is in disbelief? How can there be only 17 days left until Thanksgiving? Bah!
I don’t know if it’s because the weather has been especially mild this season (I, and what seems like 98% of all girls in New York City are still rocking our military-style green jackets to this day), or because I’ve been too busy sorting out my new life to notice, but it does not feel like the holidays are really upon us. And yet, my electronic devices assure me it is in fact November 7th.
For this year’s holiday, I was keen on developing a killer vegan Thanksgiving recipe. In this day and age, almost all of us have a voluntarily vegan or lactose-intolerant friend or family member in our social circles and cooking an annual feast that pleases everyone can be hair-pullingly stress-inducing. This is why I wanted to give you a practical yet irresistible recipe that everyone at the table can enjoy.
Enter the potato gratin. This traditional French dish is typically made with whole milk and plenty of cream, and I don’t think any of us are in the position to deny that it is 100% perfection. However, a healthier plant-based version is possible, thanks to the reigning power of cashews, miso and mushrooms. For this recipe, I made a quick cashew milk by briefly soaking the nuts in boiling water and blending them with filtered water thereafter (you will need a nut milk bag to strain the milk; you may also use a sieve lined with cheesecloth). I turned the “milk” into a bechamel with the help of an olive oil-flour roux, adding miso and a few other ingredients to give the sauce some umami. I also added mushrooms to lend a varying texture and slight meaty flavor to the gratin. What resulted is a creamy luxurious side dish recipe I am quite proud of. I hope you will share it with your loved ones this Thanksgiving!
- ¾ cup raw cashews
- ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt, divided
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon miso
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ¾ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 6 ounces shiitake mushrooms (about 12 mushrooms), stemmed and sliced
- 1 ½ pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, very thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons plain bread crumbs (homemade, if possible)
- Place cashews in a bowl and add enough boiling water to cover the nuts. Let stand for 30 minutes to soften.
- Drain cashews and place in a blender, along with 3 cups filtered water and ¼ teaspoon sea salt. Blend for 2 minutes, or until mixture starts to resemble milk. Strain milk using a nut milk bag or a sieve lined with cheesecloth. (Reserve and refrigerate cashew pulp to use in other recipes later).
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour and cook for 1 minute, whisking constantly – the roux should be a pale blonde color, do not let it burn. Then whisk in cashew milk and ½ teaspoon salt. Bring the sauce to a simmer, whisking frequently, and cook until it is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, 3-5 minutes. Whisk in miso, mustard, thyme and pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms with a pinch of salt and cook until they’re lightly browned, stirring occasionally, 5-7 minutes. In a large bowl, toss together potatoes and mushrooms.
- Grease an 8x8” baking dish with about a teaspoon of oil. Place half of the potato mixture in the dish in an even layer. Top with half of the béchamel sauce and spread to coat evenly. Add remaining potato mixture and top with remaining sauce.
- In a small bowl, combine bread crumbs with remaining teaspoon of oil and using your fingertips, rub the mixture together to moisten the bread crumbs. Sprinkle mixture atop potatoes and cover baking dish with foil. Bake for 40 minutes, or until potatoes can be pierced with a paring knife. Remove foil and continue baking until the top is golden brown and potatoes are very soft, 25-35 minutes. Serve immediately.