So, my excuse (this time) for failing to post for a while is that I’ve been on vacation. Wife and I took a trip to visit her family in NJ and followed that with a weekend in Seattle. As is usually the case when we go on vacation, nearly every activity was centered around food. In Portland, there’s rarely any doubt that every event will include at least a veggie tray or a hummus platter, and I’ll be set. In NJ, it went more like this: 1) Pick up hoagie. 2) Remove cheese from hoagie, preserving lettuce and tomato. 3) Spread store-bought, packed-along hummus on hoagie and add original tomato and lettuce. 4) Find this surprisingly delicious and eat it for a snack for the next three days.
Needless to say, I was not the pillar of nutritarian veganism for the week we were there, though I did manage to squeeze in a couple of salads along the way. As such, I am recommitting to a stricter version of the way I’ve been eating, emphasizing the greens and reducing the grains. One of my early discoveries when I started eating this way was a delicious casserole from Fat Free Vegan.
This is one of the very few recipes that I follow without any major modification–she totally nailed it. I made it yesterday and it has already defied the rule in our house that requires at least 1/4 of every casserole to go to waste. Only one of the six servings is left, and I’ll be devouring it for lunch today. Stocked with asparagus, mushrooms, and garbanzos, this casserole packs unbeatable nutrition in a neat little 175-calorie (per serving) package. The flavor and warmth remind me of Thanksgiving, and the potatoes add a crunch that makes me think I’m being a little bad. I think I’ll be adding this to the list of vegan holiday dishes this year.
Though the several steps may seem overwhelming for my fellow lazy vegans, it’s actually a surprisingly easy dish to make, and requires just one pan (plus the baking dish). Here are the deets from FFV, edited with my changes:
Asparagus and Chickpea Casserole
1 medium onion, diced
1 rib celery, diced
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
3 cloves garlic, minced
12 ounces asparagus, ends trimmed and stalks cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons vegetable broth
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup vegetable broth
3/4 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk (I use Almond Breeze Original Unsweetened)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 1/2 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3 cups shredded potatoes (I use Simply Potatoes Shredded Hash Browns – the whole bag)
smoked paprika, for garnish
Preheat oven to 400F. Lightly oil or spray a 2-3 quart casserole dish.
1. Heat a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Give it a quick spray of oil, if desired, and add the onions. Cook until onions soften, 2-3 minutes.
2. Add the celery, mushrooms, and garlic and cook for 2-3 more minutes, until mushrooms exude their juices.
3. Add the asparagus and two tablespoons of vegetable broth, cover pan, and cook for another 3-5 minutes, until asparagus is bright green and beginning to become tender.
4. Whisk the flour into the cup of vegetable broth. Add it, the milk, nutritional yeast, thyme, and basil to the pan of veggies and heat until bubbly.
5. Add the chickpeas and salt and pepper to taste. Turn heat to low, and simmer for 5 minutes.
6. Pour into prepared casserole dish and top with an even layer of potatoes. Before I add the potatoes, I toss them in a bag with salt and smoked paprika. You can add a bit more paprika to the top for garnish.
7. Bake until casserole is bubbly and top is lightly browned, 25-45 minutes (frozen potatoes will take longer than fresh). If top does not completely brown, place it under the broiler for a few seconds.