I was looking for a vegan casserole recipe on Pinterest and was disappointed by the lack of results there were! This recipe is incredibly healthy, completely plant-based, and so creamy and delicious. It can be eaten as a side dish or as a main, but either way I can assure that you will be going back for seconds!
The first things you need to do are boil the cauliflower and bake the butternut squash. The squash takes almost an hour so I suggest putting it in the oven right away and prepping everything else while it's baking.
The onions are sautéed with the garlic and the cooked butternut squash is added to the pot once it's finished. Cashew milk thins the sauce out a bit, and nutritional yeast gives it the cheesy flavour. I used an immersion blender to blend the sauce, but you can easily transfer it to a food processor to blend it that way.
The sauce is poured over the cauliflower, chickpeas and spinach in a casserole dish. I stirred everything around so all the filling ingredients were coated in the sauce, and then I sprinkled a bread crumb topping mixed with some garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and nutritional yeast on top. If you are gluten-free, you can easily find rice-based or other bread crumb alternatives at you local health food store.
The casserole bakes for 30 minutes total; 20 minutes with the lid on and 10 without. Garnish with fresh parsley for that wonderful pop of colour when out of the oven.
Serve on it's own or as a side dish, and enjoy!
*serves 6 as a side; serves 4 as a main
1 head cauliflower, separated into florets
1 can chickpeas, rinsed
1 medium butternut squash
227 g (8oz) fresh or frozen spinach, roughly chopped
1/2 cup diced yellow onion
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 cup cashew milk
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp salt
Dash of black pepper
1/2 tsp ground mustard
3 tbsp nutritional yeast
Preheat oven to 425 C.
Prepare a baking sheet with a silicon baking mat or parchment paper.
Cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Spread about 1 tsp of coconut oil on the butternut squash flesh and place on the baking mat with the skin facing up, the flesh resting on the baking sheet.
Bake for 50-60 minutes, until the butternut squash is 100% cooked through. You can turn the oven off now and turn it back on later to cook the casserole, or you can just leave it on.
Remove the squash from the oven and flip them over so the flesh is facing up. Be careful not to burn yourself here, we want to flip them so they cool faster.
Cover the cauliflower with water in a pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
If using fresh spinach, sauté it in a skillet with a few tbsp water until wilted, squeeze out as much water as you can and set aside. If using frozen spinach, thaw and squeeze as much water out as you can and set aside. I either wrap it in a cheese cloth to ring out the water or put it in a mesh colander and press the water out with a spatula.
Sauté the onion in a medium-sized pot with 1 tbsp coconut oil on medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute until fragrant.
The butternut squash should have cooled quite a bit by now, and you can scoop the insides out and add it to the pot with the onions and garlic.
Stir the butternut squash together with the onions and garlic and add the cashew milk, garlic powder, turmeric, onion powder, salt, pepper and ground mustard.
Use a immersion blender in the pot to blend all the ingredients into a sauce. Once the sauce is smooth, stir in the nutritional yeast and have a taste. Add any additional salt and pepper you think it may need and remove from heat.
If you turned the oven off after you cooked the butternut squash, preheat again to 425 C.
In a small dish, combine 2 tbsp nutritional yeast, 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp onion powder and 1/2 tsp salt and set aside.
Put the cauliflower florets, spinach and chickpeas in a large casserole dish. Mix them all together until evenly distributed, and add the butternut squash sauce. Stir it around and smooth the top. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture on top and bake for 30 minutes total; 20 minutes with the lid on, taking the lid off for the last 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven and garnish with fresh chopped parsley. Enjoy as a side dish or as your main, either way you'll be going back for seconds!