Time for another warming recipe! I’m still looking through my new cookbook, Meatless, for quick, easy, warming vegetarian fare. Because I’m especially enamored of brassicas these days, I chose to try this cauliflower-yam gratin. It’s a great combination. Sweet yams are the perfect foil for cruciferous veggies.
This recipe uses culinary sage both in the sauce and as a garnish. Sage may be one of my favorite plants. I have a huge mass of it in my back yard that gets little water in the summer and just keeps spreading. It’s the ultimate high-desert herb. For this recipe, I cleared some crusty snow off one of my plants to find lovely, intact leaves that were perfect for the gratin. The sage flavor adds a sharpness that elevates the simple yam-cauliflower combo.
The recipe calls for sweet potatoes, but I used yams instead. They have a stronger, more complex flavor. Also, because my local grocer offered a sampling of several different types—orange, white and purple—I decided to use all three colors just for fun. Feel free to use the best yams or sweet potatoes available, colorful or not!
Meatless Monday: Cauliflower-Yam Gratin with Sage
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup almond milk (the recipe calls for whole milk, but I used a dairy-free substitute to reduce the amount of dairy)
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan (I used Midnight Moon goat cheese)
- 20 fresh sage leaves, plus 1 tablespoon chopped
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 pounds sweet potatoes or yams, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick
- 1 head cauliflower, quartered and sliced 1/4-inch thick
- Coconut oil, for crisping sage leaves
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Heat olive oil in a small pot over medium heat. Add flour and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Slowly whisk in almond milk and 1 cup water. Cook, whisking, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup Parmesan and the chopped sage. Season with salt and pepper.
Pour a third of the sauce in the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish. Arrange a third of the sweet potato and cauliflower slices along the bottom. Season with salt and pepper. Repeat twice with remaining sauce and vegetables. Cover dish with parchment-lined foil and bake until vegetables are tender, about 1 hour. Raise oven temperature to 425 degrees. Remove foil and sprinkle with remaining tablespoon of cheese. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
Meanwhile, crisp sage leaves: Heat a small amount of coconut oil in a small pot over medium-high heat until surface is shimmering slightly. Add a few leaves at a time (they’ll bubble up) and cook until crisp, but still bright green, about 10 seconds. Transfer to a paper towel to drain. Season with salt. Top gratin with leaves.
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