20 November 2009

Brussels Sprouts Gratin with Daiya Cheese

I enjoy watching the Food Network quite a bit. Although it is a vast wasteland for vegetarians and vegans, some of the ideas can be converted. It does give one pause though, or should, when one of the most venerated cooks on TV is best known for laughingly adding a stick of butter or more, to every dish she makes. Is that really funny?

One of the most annoying things of nearly EVERY show is at least one reference to how 'bacon makes everything better'.

Yeah, well, maybe not for the pig.

On some of their competition shows, you just know, as soon as a contestant mentions 'vegetarian', 'organic', holistic' or 'vegan', they are going down in flames. Quickly...

During the series of Food Network Thanksgiving shows, one of the pig mad chefs made a Brussels sprout casserole of some sort. All I remember of it was that it had bacon in it. But it did put me in the mood for Brussels sprouts, and surprise, the store had them on sale the very next day.

Lately, I have been obsessed with using Teese creamy cheddar to make mac & cheese. I demand that the Brussels sprouts MUST comply to my current cheesy madness. So, I thought, gratin topped with some of the Daiya Italian Shreds that I had just bought (5 pound worth...) might work well on a cool November night. They certainly did not disappoint.

I use smoked Spanish paprika and some chile de arbol powder for some smoke and heat. You could substitute some chipotle powder for those if that's what you already have on hand. I also add Bacon Salt directly over the sprouts to boost that 'bacon flavor', but it really isn't needed unless you are looking for a faux bacon hit, or maybe serving non-vegans.

Brussels Sprouts Gratin with Daiya Cheese
Serves 3-4 (see note below)

1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and washed
1 Tbs + 1 tsp salt (divided)
1 Tbs Earth Balance 'Butter' or olive oil
1 Tbs all purpose flour
1 c soy or almond milk, slightly warmed
1/2 tsp hot smoked Spanish paprika
1/2 tsp chile de arbol powder (or add some Tabasco)
1 tsp Dijon whole grain mustard
1/2c Daiya Italian shreds
1 tsp Bacon Salt (optional)


Preheat oven to 400F (200C)
If your bakeware can do it, put the baking dish in the oven to get hot. I use a cazuela that is pretty much non-stick. If you need to do so, lightly oil your pan or spray it with cooking spray.

Bring a pot of salted water to boil with 1 Tbs salt.

Boil sprouts for about 7 minutes or until starting to get tender.

Shock the sprouts in an ice bath and set aside.

Heat 1 Tbs Earth Balance in a small pan.

Add the flour and whisk for a minute until.

Gradually add the soy milk while whisking to incorporate it all.

Add 1 tsp salt, paprika, and mustard and stir well.

Turn off heat.

Dry the sprouts and cut in half from top to bottom.

Carefully remove hot dish from oven and CAREFULLY lay sprouts cut face down into the dish and them evenly distribute what is left.

If using, sprinkle the Bacon Salt over the sprouts.

Pour bechamel evenly over the sprouts.

Top with Daiya shreds.

Bake about 20-25 minutes until the Daiya starts browning and it is bubbly around the edges.

Let it sit for a few minutes before serving.

Note - use about 6-8 ounces of sprouts per person you need to serve as a main dish, half that for a side dish. For each person, use about 1/2c bechamel sauce and 1/2 tsp of mustard, 1/4 c of Daiya.

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