Big cheesy bake
I created this dish for a vegan potluck recently and so many people asked me for the recipe that I have written it down. The cheesy sauce layer makes it special and is a great vegan basic to learn. Made with tapioca starch (available from organic shops, and a common ingredient in gluten-free flour mixes), it has a stretchy melty character. If you up the amount of tapioca (try 50-75 per cent more) it becomes more like mozzarella and works well on quesadillas. You can substitute with standard cornflour if need be, it’s just less shiny and stretchy.
I use a bake-while-you-build approach making this, adding layers to what’s in the oven while it cooks. When it comes to the vege layer, feel free to use up leftover bits and pieces in the fridge — cabbage, carrots and silverbeet are perfect. The end result is like a big pasta-free vege lasagne. Freeze the leftovers to make a TV dinner down the track.
For the base layer
|6||Agria potatoes, 1 kg, sliced very thinly|
|4 large||Onions, 700g, sliced thinly|
|2 Tbsp||Olive oil|
|1 tsp||Black pepper|
|1 handful||Chopped parsley|
For the vege and cheesy layers
|1 small||Leek, sliced|
|8 stalks||Silverbeet, (4 large or 8 small) sliced; finely chop the leaves|
|¼ medium||Cabbage, sliced|
|1 Tbsp||Olive oil|
|1 Tbsp||Fennel seeds|
|3 Tbsp||Sweet vinegar, I used white balsamic|
|1 cup||Raw cashew nuts|
|½ cup||Tapioca flour, or use cornflour|
|2 Tbsp||Dijon mustard|
|2 Tbsp||Lemon juice|
|6 Tbsp||Nutritional yeast, if unavailable use 1 Tbsp miso|
|2 Tbsp||Stock powder, I used Massel chickenstyle|
For the tomato sauce
- Heat oven to 180C fan bake.
- Mix potato and onion in a big bowl with oil, salt, pepper and parsley, then spread out over a large roasting dish (30 x 40 cm approx) and pop into oven to start cooking.
- Add veges to a hot pan with olive oil, starting with the firmest (in this case leeks and silverbeet stalks) and ending with the softer leafy ones, stirring as you go. Add salt, fennel seeds and sweet vinegar, give them another 5 minutes to soften, then place on top of potato onion layer in oven. To make a distinctly green layer you can save the silverbeet leaves (or use spinach) and arrange them on top of the cooked veges.
- Make the cheesy sauce while the dish cooks. Place cashews, tapioca flour, mustard, water, lemon juice, yeast and stock powder in a high-speed blender and blend until super-smooth (30-60 seconds). Transfer to a saucepan and bring to a boil, then cook another 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Spread over veges in oven and bake for 10 minutes.
- Make the tomato sauce. Gently fry onion and garlic in olive oil in a large pan until tender. Add remaining sauce ingredients and simmer 10 minutes, then gently spread on top of cheesy sauce layer. Reduce oven to 170C fan and bake for 1 hour.
- Serve with freshly cracked pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, and cashew parmesan if you have some in the pantry.