This week’s Gluten-Free Holiday is all about Thanksgiving Favorites, and is hosted by Shirley at Gluten-Free Easily. Shirley is sharing a delicious no-fail pie crust over at Gluten-Free Easily, and is giving away multiple copies of two amazing books. Just look at how awesome this pie crust is. And no rolling of the dough. I love Shirley for her super-simple recipes! Definitely check it out. She also shares other amazing Thanksgiving recipes and tips that are sure to make your big day easier!
But first, let me share with you about a new-and-improved version of a Thanksgiving favorite in our home. As much as I love to experiment with recipes, sometimes (at least, with our family), Thanksgiving isn’t the time to spring a “new” version of a favorite. At least, not with everyone. And if it’s a variation, it still has to have the “feel” of the original dish, or else I might risk someone missing out on their once-a-year comfort foods. My broccoli cheese rice casserole is one such dish. I’m sure you’ve heard of the dish before; it ranks up there with green bean casserole in popularity around this time of year. And traditionally, it’s a dish filled with processed ingredients – a can of cream of mushroom soup, some processed cheese food, and frozen broccoli. In years past, I improved the dish (and made it gluten-free) by replacing the canned soup with a homemade mushroom soup. Everyone loved the depth of flavor that soup provided, and I couldn’t make anything else but that dish.
Fast forward to this year. This is my first dairy-free Thanksgiving. I knew I would be making a broccoli cheese rice casserole regardless, but I truly wanted to partake in the dish as well. In the back of my mind, I knew that if my dairy-free version failed, I’d concede and make the processed-cheese version. But I had to try to make it gluten-free and vegan, and make it taste good enough to please the dairy-eaters at the Thanksgiving table. Making a dairy-free “cream” of mushroom soup would be pretty easy. But a dairy-free version of the famous processed cheese? How would I go about accomplishing that?
This is when I remembered a post on The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen. Ali was reviewing Alisa Fleming’s book, Go Dairy Free, and she posted a recipe for dairy-free nacho cheese sauce. I’d made it before (for nachos), and it was quite tasty. I opted to try it as an “unprocessed” processed cheese substitute. And to my delight, it worked! The casserole was so similar in texture and taste, I was delighted. When Matt came into the kitchen, the casserole caught his eye, and he asked for a bite. Of course, I indulged him, and he loved it. My husband exclaimed that if I hadn’t told him it was dairy-free, he wouldn’t have known the difference. It was tasty. My switcharoo had worked!
So while this is no longer an easy “dump-and-go” recipe, it is much improved from the preservative-laden, gluten and dairy-filled version of the original casserole. (Besides, in my mind, Thanksgiving is a time to share dishes that might take a bit more labor in the name of love!) A hint – the soup and the cheese sauce can be made ahead of time and frozen. Just thaw and use in the recipe as usual. Also, the casserole can be assembled and refrigerated overnight, keeping the actual work on Thanksgiving day to a minimum. This is my plan, as I also am in charge of the turkey (I use Alton Brown’s Good Eats turkey recipe every year – it is always so moist and delicious, I hesitate to want to change!) and a myriad of other gluten-free dishes!
What are some of your gluten-free Thanksgiving favorites? What will you make this year? Visit over at Gluten-Free Easily and share, and enter for a chance to win these amazing cookbooks:Make it Fast, Cook it Slow by Stephanie O’Dea
To enter, head on over to Gluten-Free Easily and check it out!
Vegan Broccoli Cheese Rice Casserole
¼ c Earth Balance soy-free buttery spread (or grapeseed oil)
½ c chopped yellow onion
16 oz frozen chopped broccoli
1 c vegan “condensed” cream of mushroom soup (recipe follows)
1 ¼ c vegan nacho “cheese”
2 c cooked long-grain rice (I used Basmati)
¼ t celery salt
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 c Daiya cheese (or other non-dairy cheese)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Melt buttery spread in a large sauté pan at medium meat. Add onion and sauté for 3-4 minutes or until translucent. Add broccoli and sauté, stirring occasionally, until no longer frozen. Add soup, nacho cheese, and rice. Stir and allow to warm through. Add celery salt, salt, and pepper to taste. Transfer to an 8X8 baking dish. Sprinkle with Daiya cheese. (can be made ahead and refrigerated at this point, just cover with plastic wrap.)
Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.
Vegan “Condensed” Cream of Mushroom Soup
2 T grapeseed oil
¾ c chopped shallots
1 lbs white mushrooms, sliced
1 lbs crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 t fresh thyme leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 c cream sherry
3 T potato starch
1 c vegetable broth
½ c almond milk
¼ t freshly ground nutmeg
Juice of ½ lemon
In a large saucepan, heat oil to medium heat. Add shallots and sauté for 3-4 minutes or until soft. Add mushrooms and thyme leaves, and sauté for 7-8 minutes or until mushrooms release their juices and get soft. Season with salt and pepper. Add sherry and cook, stirring occasionally, until the juices are nearly all evaporated. Add potato starch and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes. Add broth and stir. Bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Allow to simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and puree the soup using a stick blender (or puree in batches using a regular blender), and place back over heat. Add almond milk, nutmeg, and lemon juice and stir well. Season to taste with salt as needed.
(For a regular, non-condensed soup, add an additional 2-3 cups of broth)