Thanksgiving is almost here! I hope you’ve been making a list of all the things you’re thankful for, because apparently we only get to give thanks once a year. I can tell you one thing I’m thankful for right now, which is that I no longer work for a bank where the the manager insisted on playing the radio station that broadcasted Christmas songs ALL DAY LONG, EVERY SINGLE DAY, between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Yes, the caps were necessary. It’s been almost 10 years, and I’ve almost gotten the songs out of my head.
Another thing I’m thankful for? This vegan broccoli casserole. I’m serious! I don’t joke about gratitude when it comes to food. Here’s the thing. If you eat plant-based and also see your family during holidays, then inevitably the topic of food is going to come up. And sometimes it can create, shall we say, challenges. I’m lucky to have a family that embraces/tolerates/doesn’t freak out about vegan options at the holiday table, but I know that’s not the case for everyone. So when I set out to “veganize” (plantify?) this dish that is tradition for my family at Thanksgiving, I was a little bit nervous. But in the end, I prevailed, and the finished dish is every bit as delicious as the original. It’s super easy, too, so let’s get to it!
I’m not always of a fan of using frozen vegetables, because of the texture after cooking, but in the case of this casserole, it totally works. And…I saved you a dish because I figured out that you can cook the broccoli directly in the casserole dish while the oven is preheating and you’re prepping the sauce. No pans or bowls or used up space on the stove. Cool, right?
The classic version of broccoli casserole calls for canned cream of mushroom soup, cream cheese, and onions. So instead, we’re going to make a creamy, cheesy, mushroomy sauce and pour it all over the broccoli. It’s basically a thinned out version of my savory cashew cream. There’s even a nut-free option if you can’t do cashews. Saute up some mushrooms and onions, then pour the sauce over, and let it simmer for just a couple of minutes. This creamy concoction is what you get.
Sheesh, I could eat it just like that. But don’t worry, we’re going to take this casserole all the way to the table. Crush up some Ritz cracker crumbs (yes, they’re vegan!) or whatever crunchy bread-crumby topping you like, and bake it up until bubbly and the topping is nice and browned. Serve it alongside the mashed potatoes, and the gravy, and dressing/stuffing, cranberry sauce, and maybe some salad. But if you’re anything like me, this will be what you go back for. Because seconds.
There’s one last thing. I know everyone is saying it at this time of year, and I try to remember to say it other times too, but seriously, I’m thankful for you. This blog is over 3 years old, and I’m gearing up to make some changes/improvements very soon. But I wouldn’t still be doing this if it wasn’t for you. When you make a recipe and tell me about it, or share it with a friend, or post about it on Facebook, or share a picture on Instagram, it reminds me that there is a human being on the other side of the screen, a real life person who matters. So thank you for being along for this ride, in whatever way you have. Even if you never share or comment or e-mail. Because I know you’re there. No, really, I’m not a stalker or anything. 😉 I just know that I have been a silent follower of other blogs for years, so I know that you’re out there. In whatever way that the words and images on this screen have had a place in your life, I’m honored to have been a part of it, and can’t wait for what’s to come.
Happy Give Thanks and Eat Until You Pass Out Day!
Vegan Broccoli Casserole
- 2 32 oz. bags frozen broccoli cuts
- 2 cups raw cashews or pepitas (soaked for 2-8 hours if possible (*see note for quick-soak method))
- 3 cups water or plain unsweetened plant milk
- 1 tablespoon miso paste (optional)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (lemon juice, or unsweetened rice vinegar)
- 1 yellow onion (diced)
- 8 ounces crimini or button mushrooms (diced)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1-2 sleeves Ritz crackers (crushed into crumbs, or substitute 2 GF plain bread crumbs for gluten-free option)
Make the Savory Cashew Cream
- After soaking the cashews or pepitas*, drain, rinse, and add to a blender or food processor.
- Add water/milk, miso, salt, nutritional yeast, and vinegar, and blend until smooth and creamy. If using a high-speed blender, no soaking is necessary.
Make the casserole
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Add the frozen broccoli to a 13x9 casserole dish and place it in the oven while it is preheating. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the broccoli is heated through and tender, stirring occasionally to ensure even heating.
- After the broccoli is cooked, set aside and reduce oven temperature to 350F.
- Preheat a large skillet or saucepan over medium-high heat.
- Add mushrooms and onions to the pan and cook for 5-6 minutes, until mushrooms have released their liquid and onions are browned and soft.
- Add cashew cream to the onion/mushroom mixture and stir to combine.
- Reduce heat to medium, and cook for 4-5 minutes until mixture has thickened slightly. Remove from heat.
- Pour the sauce over the broccoli in the casserole dish and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Spread cracker crumbs over the top of the broccoli mixture in an even layer.
- Bake casserole, uncovered, for 30 minutes on the middle rack.