Mini-Thanksgiving, Casserole Style

Mini-Thanksgiving Casserole
Mini-Thanksgiving Casserole

This past summer, one of my co-workers went through a phase of making Thanksgiving dinners — I don’t think she was cooking a whole turkey, but part of it, plus dressing and cranberries.  I think it happened more than once, and the craving turned out to be transferable.

But for me?  Turkey, eh, whatever.  I don’t like it or dislike it, but I don’t feel excited enough to cook one if I don’t have to.  What I love about Thanksgiving are the side dishes, and while most of my family’s traditional foods are not allergen-free in their original formats, it is truly easy to make most of them safe with dairy alternatives (although, personally, I prefer vegetable broth to most non-dairy milks in mashed potatoes — less chance for an odd sweet flavor to happen).

For my mid-summer Thanksgiving, I decided to do a casserole of all my favorite flavors, and since there is just one of me, I did individual casseroles so that I could freeze some of them.  If you wanted turkey, you could make it on the side.  If you wanted a full vegan meal and you’re not gluten-free, add diced seitan with the mushrooms in the gravy portion, but  be sure to leave some extra room for it at the top of your casseroles. Some sort of cranberries on the side?  Why not?  This can be the main dish, the centerpiece, the only dish, or a side.  Nothing but versatile, right?

This casserole has a base of mashed rutabaga, a center of vegan, gluten-free chestnut and celery dressing, and a rich mushroom gravy, all baked in one lovely personal-sized casserole.  I’ve never made this as one large casserole, but I think doubling each layer and increasing the cooking time would work.

Mini-Thanksgiving, Casserole Style

3 servings

Pre-heat oven to 350F, and spray three 1/2 cup mini-casserole dishes with cooking spray (note on cooking spray — the only one I’ve found free of all allergens including soy is Pam for Grilling).

First, make the rutabaga:

  • 2 cups stock (veg or chicken) or 2 cups water and 2 bouillon cubes (watch for hidden gluten and soy in stock and especially bouillon — look for natural brands for boxed stock for the best selection of options)
  • about 2 cups of cubed rutabaga (look for it frozen and bagged)

Boil rutabaga in stock until cooked through.  Takes 20-30 minutes for fresh rutabaga, but 10 or so for frozen.

Drain rutabaga, and mash with:

  • 1+ Tablespoon soy-free Earth Balance
  • salt and pepper to taste — be generous with the pepper here.

Spoon into bottom of dishes and press down with the back of the spoon.  Should be about 1/4 to 1/3 an inch at the bottom of each dish.  If you have leftovers, pack them in or eat them.

Rutabaga base
Rutabaga base

Next, make the dressing.  In large skillet, over medium heat, heat

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil.  When shimmery hot,

Add:

  • 1 cup of diced onion.  Cook until translucent.
  • Add 1 cup celery, chopped, cook until hot, 3-4 minutes
  • Add one package of chestnuts, chopped (my package was 5.2 oz, and was about 15 chestnuts)
  • Heaping 1/2 teaspoon thyme, crushed as you add it.
Chestnut-Celery Dressing
Chestnut-Celery Dressing

Cook everything about 5 minutes.  Onions should be entirely clear, celery should still retain a bit of crisp, the chestnuts don’t appear to change.

  • Stir in 1/3 cup gluten-free bread crumbs (I make my own from the leftover pieces of bread from each loaf, but if you need to buy some, the Ener-G loaves make good bread crumbs).

Spoon over rutabaga, leaving just a bit of room (1/4 inch or so) at the top.  Scrape all the bits out of the skillet.

Chestnut-Celery Dressing, stage 2
Chestnut-Celery Dressing, stage 2

Finally, make the gravy.  Into the same skillet you just used (really no need to wash it out), still over medium heat, add

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil. When shimmery hot,
  • Add 1/4 cup onion, diced small.  Cook until translucent.
  • Add 1 3.5 oz package of shitaki mushrooms, washed, stemmed, and diced.  Cook until the liquid comes out of the mushrooms (watch, if you don’t know what I’m talking about — you’ll see it).  2-5 minutes.  Then add
  • 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 Tablespoons garbanzo bean flour
  • 2 Tablespoons of soy sauce, gluten-free tamari, or coconut aminos

Whisk these until you’ve made a slurry, good and thick.  Let it cook for a minute.  Begin to slowly drizzle in water, about 1 Tablespoon at a time, stirring and letting each addition thicken before adding the next drizzle.  Add at least 1 cup of water, and not more than 1.5 cups.

Spoon gravy over casseroles.  At this point, you can cover the casseroles and refrigerate overnight, or you can bake them immediately.  If immediately, cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes.  If you are taking them out of the fridge, let them sit 15 minutes or so to come up towards room temperature, and then bake 25-30 minutes.  These freeze okay, but let them thaw thoroughly and then bake.

Mmmmm, casserole
Mmmmm, casserole

Mini-Thanksgiving, Casserole Style, Ingredients only.

  • 2 cups stock (veg or chicken) or 2 cups water and 2 bouillon cubes
  • about 2 cups of cubed rutabaga
  • 1+ Tablespoon soy-free Earth Balance
  • salt and pepper to taste — be generous with the pepper here.
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup of diced onion
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 5.2 oz package of chestnuts, chopped (15 chestnuts)
  • Heaping 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/3 cup gluten-free bread crumbs
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup onion, diced small
  • 1 3.5 oz package of shitaki mushrooms, washed, stemmed, and diced
  • 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 Tablespoons garbanzo bean flour
  • 2 Tablespoons of soy sauce, gluten-free tamari, or coconut aminos

(Final note — it seems to me that chestnuts are tree nuts, but did not confirm this.  Assuming this is so, this recipe is not nut-free. MK, and readers, I checked this morning and confirmed they are tree nuts -Denise)

 

    2 comments

    1. You can definitely sub wheat flour for the garbanzo bean flour, BUT make sure you brown it before adding the liquids or it will taste “raw.” You don’t need to do that with the bean flour.

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