I am not the biggest turkey fanatic. Sure, a roasted turkey has been the center-piece for Thanksgiving dinners across the country, a long-standing tradition dating back to the beginnings of our nation. But what really gets me inspired and my mouth watering are all the wonderful sides that surround that big bird. The mixings of sweet and savory, the colorful variety, and the comfort foods. Other than the turkey, Thanksgiving can be a Vegan’s dream, considering how many flavors and fresh ingredients come together to make up this communal meal. Brussel Sprouts mixed with walnuts, cranberries, and crumbled cheese, Roasted Carrots of all color variety, coated in a buttery cinnamon sauce and bits of pancetta, Sweet Potato and Cauliflower mash, Classic Potatoes Gratin, Cornbread stuffing with rosemary, chestnuts, and dried apricots, and the list could go on and on. Swap the butter for coconut oil or whatever oil you prefer, opt for non-dairy cheese and meat alternatives, grab vegan and/or gluten-free bread/flour, and you’ve got a feast worthy of anyone’s eating habits. Below is one of my favorite, not so typical, Vegan side dishes that still packs a punch in flavor and gets those Thanksgiving feels going.
Roasted Beet & Butternut Gratin
4 large red beets, peeled and cleaned
1 butternut squash
2 cups pistachios, shelled
2 cups cashews
½ cup fresh rosemary
4 cloves garlic
1 cup olive oil
1 tsp salt (more or less to taste)
1 tsp fresh cracked black pepper (more or less to taste)
water, to desired cheese consistency
1 large baking dish, heavily pre-buttered/oiled
Preheat oven to 375F and place the squash and beets inside. These will cook to soften, but not all the way as we will put everything back in the oven once assembled. These will cook for about 30 minutes (remove both and let cool once the skin begins to lift away from the squash meat).
In the meantime, blend the cashews, rosemary, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper until smooth. Depending on the consistency, you may want to add water. This cashew cheese should be firm enough to resemble a ricotta, easy to spread but also holds its shape.
Once cooled, remove the skin and seeds and lightly mash the squash. Season with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, and fresh cracked black pepper.
Thinly slice the beets into rounds, about ¼ inch thick.
Now we will begin to mount our gratin in the baking dish. Start with a layer of beet slices, making sure each one is lying flat. Next spread a good layer of cashew cheese, followed by the mashed butternut squash and finish with a heavy sprinkle of pistachios. Top with another slice of beet to seal it all in, and repeat to add more layers. Depending on the depth of your baking dish, you may be able to have up to three layers.
Blend the remaining squash, cashew cheese, and pistachios together, adding more water, to create a creamy sauce. Top the gratin with this sauce, then place in the oven and cook for another 25 minutes.
Bon Appétit et Bonnes Fêtes!
Pauline, Apparis Bloguette
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