“How does this not have any cream in it?!” — Your first thought when you taste this non-dairy and vegan recipe for scalloped potatoes. The secret is the cashews, which, when blended, produce a thick, rich replacement for heavy cream. Here is the proof that vegan recipes can be just as decadent.
The trick is to use unroasted or raw cashews, as these have a more neutral taste than the roasted nuts. Unless you have a high-powered blender like a Vitamix, you should soak your cashews in hot or warm water for at least two hours in order to make them as soft as possible for blending into a silky cream. However, if you find that after a couple minutes of blending that your cream is still gritty, you can simply strain it through a fine sieve and continue with the recipe.
If you’d like, you can easily modify this recipe by adding sautéed mushrooms or even steamed cauliflower or broccoli florets to the cream sauce. You also don’t have to add the bread crumb topping, but I find it adds a crunchy texture that goes well with the soft and creamy potatoes. Serve this with a green side salad for a light meal.
- 1 cup unroasted cashews, soaked in warm water for 2 hours
- 5 cups water
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 teaspoons vegetable broth powder, or replace two cups of the water with two cups of prepared vegetable broth
- 1 leek, chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- black pepper, to taste
- pinch of ground nutmeg
- 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
- 6 large potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced into ⅛ inch medallions
- 1 cup plain bread crumbs
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- black pepper, to taste
- 1 Tablespoon chopped parsley
- Preheat oven to 375°.
- Drain the cashews and put them in a blender along with the water, garlic, vegetable broth powder and blend on high until completely smooth and no bits of cashew remain. This may take a few minutes of blending. While it's blending, sauté the leeks in 2 teaspoons of olive oil for 1 minute in a medium pot or a large saucepan.
- Pour the smooth cashew cream into the pot with the leeks, along with the bay leaf, salt, black pepper, and nutmeg. Bring to a boil and then simmer on low for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sauce will thicken slightly.
- In the meantime, peel and slice the potatoes into thin medallions about ⅛ inch thick. If you have a mandolin slicer, it makes quick work of the potatoes.
- Quickly rinse the potato slices in a colander to remove the excess starch and place them into a 9x13 inch baking dish. Stir the thyme into the simmered sauce and pour it all over the potatoes.
- Bake, covered for 40 minutes and uncovered for 15-20 minutes. You can broil it for the last five minutes to brown the top. It is done when the tip of a knife goes through the layers of potato without resistance.
- Allow to cool for 10 minutes and sprinkle bread crumbs on top before serving.
- Prepare the bread crumb topping by putting the bread crumbs, olive oil, salt, and pepper into a small saucepan on medium high heat. Stirring constantly, toast the bread crumbs until they become golden brown and crispy. Remove from heat, cool for 5 minutes and stir in the chopped parsley.