We should most definitely give thanks every day! But this title is about a few old fashioned Thanksgiving side dishes. If Mendal had her way we would have these every day…or until she finally gets tired of them, which she professes is impossible!
The dishes I’m talking about is the old school green bean casserole and a southern classic corn casserole (or corn pudding)…Strangely, Mendal is from Illinois, I’m from Virginia, I had never had this casserole and she made it frequently. Then again Illinois is corn country, so it makes sense!
These two dishes are important to Mendal, the flavors are a part of it sure, but I believe it’s mostly about comfort. You know that feeling you get when you eat something from your childhood, the way the flavors just take you back to that happy, innocent, place. Where there are no bills or responsibilities, only yummy food and loving family.
Going plant based was easy for me, even with my professed cheese addiction, I made the decision one day and then stopped eating cheese and milk products immediately. Mendal is supportive of my desire to not have dairy in the house and my desire not to cook with it. She has only eaten sour cream and cheese at our favorite Mexican restuarant, Monterrys and pizza joint, Brixx Wood Fired Pizza. Cheese is a huge comfort food for her, and sadly she didn’t like the vegan cheese that Brixx offers (I like it okay but also love cheeseless pizza). So, needless to say I wanted to cook up some guiltless comfort foods for Mendal!
And behold, I veganized Thanksgiving Side Dishes!
Vegan Green Bean Casserole
4 cups Organic Green Beans (I used Costco), break the beans into 1-2 inch pieces
1 cup french fried onions
2 cups vegetable or mushroom stock
1/2 cup Thick Cashew Cream see recipe below
1 cup shitake mushrooms, washed and chopped 1-2 inch pieces
1 cup baby bellas or portabellas, washed and chopped 1-2 inch pieces
1 tablespoon Organic Naturally Brewed Soy Sauce
1 teaspoon rubbed Sage
1 teaspoon dried Rosemary, ground with mortar and pestle or finely chopped
Place green bean pieces in glass bowl covered in water microwave for 5 minutes. Please note you can skip this part as Mendal prefers her green beans over cooked.
In medium sauce pan heat the vegetable stock with the herbs and soy sauce on medium high heat until bubbling, turn down to simmer, add mushrooms and cook until you notice the mixture reducing slightly, can take 15 to 20 minutes. Add Thick Cashew Cream and continue to cook 10 more minutes.
Pour mushroom gravy mixture in a 8×8 or 9×9 baking dish, spoon in the beans and add 1/2 cup french fried onions, mix gently (if you find it easier to combine these things in the sauce pan or a bowl go for it!). Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, then top with remaining 1/2 cup french fried onions and bake another 5 to 10 minutes. Allow dish to rest for 10 minutes before serving. Note: I did not add salt to the recipe because the soy sauce may offer enough saltiness for most people, but please salt to taste.
1 cup Raw Cashews, soaked for 4 hours or for 15 minutes in hot water
1 cup filtered water
Place soaked Cashews and water in blender and blend for about 5 minutes, until you are left with a thick and creamy smooth mixture. Should be about the consistency of sour cream. You will not use this whole recipe in either of these side dishes, I had 1/2 a cup left so added 1 more cup of water and made my go to Cashew Cream which I refrigerated and later used for my yummy Vegan Alfredo sauce.
Look at this thick and creamy goodness!
Mendal’s Vegan Corn Casserole
1 can Creamed Corn
2 cups Frozen Corn
1 cup Thick Cashew Cream (see recipe above)
1 Flax egg = mix 1 tablespoon ground flax seed with 1/4 cup filtered water, combine and refrigerate at least 15 minutes before uses.
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoon – 1/4 cup maple syrup or agave (Note: I’m doing some additional research on the healthfulness of agave syrup)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon baking powder (be sure to use aluminium free)
1/4 cup coconut oil (I like unrefined virgin, but Mendal and Miranda don’t love the slight coconut flavor it can give some dishes so use refined if you are sensitive to coconut flavors!)
To make this yummy dish simply combine all, but the coconut oil, in a bowl. Once combined pour into a 9×9 baking dish and smooth the top of the corn mixture, then push 1/2 teaspoon pieces of room temperature coconut oil scattered evenly over the top.
Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees. let sit 5 or 10 minutes before serving.
The corn casserole was so much better than the dairy heavy original version. The Green Bean Casserole was good too, but it tastes “healthier” than the old standard version made with canned soup, to me this is fantastic, but to Mendal it wasn’t quite the comfort food she grew up on. I honestly think adding more salt and thick cashew cream would fix that!
Also don’t mind the mashed potatoes, over 5+ years Mendal and I have been together, I have made tons of mashed potatoes. When I first met Mendal she told me she loved gluey mashed potatoes. . .seriously! Gluey! So, being the loving girlfriend, I am, I have TRIED to make GLUEY mashed potatoes ever since. But I could not figure out how! Time after time, I created fluffy (yummy) mashed potatoes. I tried different types of potatoes, different amounts of liquids, different types of liquids (heavy cream yup, skim milk yup, almond milk totally, water? oh yes). What happened on this fateful day finally produced the “perfect” gluey mashed potatoes. Mendal was happy, I wasn’t loving them. . .but this meal was about her comfort food so, yay I succeeded! And it only took 5 years. The trick. . .allow the cooked potatoes to cool to nearly room temp before adding cold almond milk then mash, I’m guessing it has something to do with the too cold temp and the starches? I will know for sure when I try to recreate the disaster/perfection.