Saturday, March 14, 2009

No 'Count, Shiftless Sunday Brunch Casserole

We like Sundays, despite the unfortunate fact that they are invariably followed by Mondays. One of the best things about them is brunch, but when you're vegan, brunch is pretty much the worst possible meal to eat out. Think about it: nothing but eggs, bacon, ham, sausages and pancakes MADE with eggs as far as the eye can see. So the solution, at least until someone opens a rocking vegan diner in my town, is to make it ourselves. This actually suits me fine, because if we went out I'd have to take a shower and get dressed first, which sort of defeats the whole purpose of Sunday, to wit: shiftlessness.

Last week I made a huge batch of mashed potatoes to accompany a cottage pie and mushroom gravy. I used some of the leftovers for potato pancakes, but when Sunday came I found myself thinking about the sort of gut-bomb breakfast casserole/hash things you get in really great know what I'm talking about, just a big mess of every breakfast food imaginable tossed together on a griddle or baked up in a pan. I looked around for a vegan brunch casserole, but the only promising leads were some tester pics of the one in Isa Chandra Moskowitz's much-anticipated, upcoming book Vegan Brunch, for which the recipe is as yet unavailable. So I put on my thinking cap, headed into the kitchen, and came up with this: in the interest of full disclosure, I was literally rooting around in the refrigerator and throwing stuff in, so there are things like packaged Trader Joe's "meatballs," jarred salsa, etc. that you won't usually find in my recipes, but since the theme of the day is lazy, shiftless and maybe even a little trashy, we can make an exception this once, right?

No 'Count, Shiftless Sunday Brunch Casserole

The Filling

~ 1 tbsp.olive oil
~ 1 tbsp. minced garlic
~ 1 cup each: diced onion, green bell pepper
~ 1/2 cup each: diced carrot, celery
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, cumin, dill, thyme, sage, smoked paprika
~ 1/4 tsp cayenne or a shot of hot sauce (optional)
~ 2 fresh, chopped tomatoes (or 1/2 cup spaghetti sauce)
~ 2 cups defrosted Trader Joe's meatless balls (!), chopped
~ Fresh black pepper to taste
~ 2-3 cups mashed potatoes

~ Preheat oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit.
~ In a large skillet, saute the onion and garlic over medium heat about 3 minutes.
~ Add the carrots, celery and seasonings. Stir to combine and cook another 5 minutes, adding a splash of water if necessary to prevent sticking.
~ Add the chopped "meatballs" and the tomatoes or sauce. Stir thoroughly and continue cooking 5-7 minutes more, until it's thick and gloopy.
~ Spread into an oiled 9 x 13" casserole, and top with 2 cups mashed potatoes (I used leftovers cold out of the refrigerator for that extra-trashy "je ne sais quoi"). Spread the potato around but don't make it perfectly smooth; we're aiming for, um, "rustic" here!
~ Over the top, pour:

The Sauce

~ 1 tbsp. oil or vegan margarine
~ 1/4 flour
~ 1/3 cup nutritional yeast flakes
~ 1.5 cups unsweetened soy milk
~ 1/3 cup salsa
~ 1/3 jarred spaghetti sauce
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, paprika

~ In a saucepan, melt the margarine or oil over low heat and stir in the flour and enough of the soy milk to make a roux.
~ Add the remaining ingredients a bit at a time, using a whisk to prevent any clumps from forming. Cook another 5 minutes or so, stirring constantly, until the sauce is thickened to about the consistency of a queso sauce.
~ Pour the sauce over the casserole, top with a sprinkle of paprika and bake at 425 degrees fahrenheit for 25-30 minutes.
~ Serve with toast, home-fries, grits or whatever else makes you feel like it's Sunday afternoon...the proper beverage to accompany so sophisticated a repast would be mimosas made with the cheapest possible "champagne," meaning it should cost substantially less than the orange juice!


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