Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Home Grown Tomatoes presents...Taters

Scalloped Potatoes

Home Grown Tomatoes is a weekly Vegan/Vegetarian column by Giovanina Bucci

I've had the last 12 days off from work, and let me tell you...I could seriously get used to this! It hasn't been the most productive period of time, but I've gotten a healthy dose of maxin' and relaxin' in. Not to mention, I've been able to play with all my new Christmas kitchen toys and cookbooks. It was like waking up in 1950 on Christmas morning, with every housewife's dream boxed, wrapped and adorned with bows and ribbons. An electric mixer, a Dirt Devil vacuum, saucepans, spatulas, aprons - I couldn't have been more excited! The highlight was the diner style straw dispenser. It's awesome. You would find this all even more amusing if you ever saw the size of our kitchen. Think...closet. Anyway, I was so blessed to receive all of these wonderful new goodies, but even more blessed to be able to spend the holidays with friends and family and share some good ol' cookin' with them.

I don't know about you, but I have an affinity for anything potato. My muffin top doesn't really appreciate it all that much, but there's something seriously gratifying about melt-in-your-mouth mashed potatoes, steak fries, and as you guessed...scalloped potatoes, to name a few. This is a little number I created from scratch and I have to say, for being vegan, they were just as cheesy and gooey as I had hoped they'd be. I made a small batch, as to avoid over-stuffage (given that I have no self-control). If you're making a 9x13 pan full, you could easily multiply all ingredients by 3 or 4.

Serving Size: Let's not go there...:)

2 med. sized Idaho potatoes

1 medium yellow onion

1/2-3/4 C. Rice Milk

1 1/2 Tbs. nutritional yeast

8-10 oz. cheddar cheese
(I used "Follow Your Heart")

10-12 pieces tempeh bacon (crumbled)

2 bunches green onion (scallions)

1/2 Tbs. onion powder

black pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Begin by slicing your potatoes (with skins on...that's where the nutrition is at!) as thinly as possibly, however, keeping in mind that you want them a consistent thickness so they cook evenly. Layer the potatoes in a well greased/oiled pan and begin making the sauce. On medium high heat, saute chopped yellow onion in butter and Bragg's until translucent. Turn down the stove to medium low heat and add remaining ingredients.

Because the "bacon" is already cooked and the green onions do not take much to "cook," the order in which you add the rest of the ingredients does not much matter. I found it best to grate the cheese directly into the saucepan, stirring often to produce a thick, creamy consistency. You can play with the cheese-to-milk ratio, depending on what type of sauce you prefer. I usually always start with less liquid and build from there, as I tend to enjoy a thicker sauce. The nutritional yeast will help thicken the sauce as well, so try and exercise patience before adding more cheese until your ingredients have melded together for a bit. Once you get the cheese sauce to the consistency you prefer, cover the layered potatoes and bake until potatoes are tender (about 30 or so minutes).

I imagine with all of the New Year's resolutions that are lurking out there about dieting and exercising, you're thinking, "WHAT IS THIS GIRL TRYING TO DO TO ME?!!" Honestly, go with the smaller batch and nix your urge to use heavy cream instead of rice milk and these little adjustments can go a long way. Not to mention, you're beautiful...and far more important then your weight is your health. Baby steps, my friend, baby steps! Enjoy!

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