Thursday, February 27, 2014

Cauliflower & Kale Gratin

A gratin, by definition, is a dish covered with a crumb crust and baked in the oven, cheese is usually involved.  I wanted that warming comfort food feeling that you get from cheese but without the dairy so I substituted the milk and cheese with a cashew sauce.  

A cashew sauce is easy to make with a blender (a high speed blender is best), remembering to soak the cashews ahead of time is the hard part.  I suggest you try to find cashew "pieces" rather than whole cashews in the bulk section of your local natural food store, they cost a lot less and you're only going to grind them up anyway.

While your cashews are soaking, you can prep your vegetables.  I used kale with my cauliflower because that's what I have growing in my garden, but you could easily substitute chard or even spinach.

A nutritional side note:  The iron in the greens is much more accessible to your body when it's not paired with dairy products.

Chop the cauliflower into small, bite size pieces and steam them until they're just barely soft. Be careful not to over cook them, because they will be baked too.

Remove the tough center stem from the kale leaves and then chop them into bite sized pieces.  Mix them with the steamed cauliflower is a oiled baking dish.

I made the cashew sauce by blending together the soaked cashews with some fresh water, lemon juice, sauteed onion, and garlic.  You simply pour the cashew sauce over the vegetables.  Most gratins are topped with bread crumbs but I wanted a richer, crunchier topping so I used whole grain cracker crumbs.  You can grind up the crackers in a food processor or blender but I like to put them in a plastic bag and beat them with a rolling pin.  This way the crumbs aren't so uniform.  I like it better with some larger bits.

This is healthy comfort food.  

Cauliflower & Kale Gratin
Makes 2 to 4 servings - Use organic ingredients whenever possible

1 cup raw cashew pieces
1 medium sized cauliflower
2 cups kale, stemmed and chopped 
1 tablespoon XV olive oil
1 medium yellow onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water (or a little more if necessary)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup whole grain cracker crumbs (I used Back to Nature brand)

Cover the cashews with cold water and set aside for two hours.
Cut the cauliflower into bite sized pieces
Steam them for about 5 minutes or until just tender.
Cut the center stem from the kale and then chop the leaves.
Oil a small baking dish (approx. 7"x 10")
Mix the cauliflower and kale and put it in the baking dish.
In a saute pan, warm the oil over a medium low heat.
Chop the onion and saute in the oil for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile finely dice the garlic.
Add the garlic to the onions and saute for 2 minutes more.
Remove from heat.
In your blender, put the cashews, 1/2 water, lemon juice, salt and the sauteed onions and garlic.
Process for at least twenty seconds in a high speed blender.
(if you have a regular blender, you'll need to process longer)
Pour the cashew sauce over the veggies and stir a little bit.
Top with the cracker crumbs.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the crumbs are starting to brown.
Serve immediately.


  1. Wonderful! I have been subbing cashew cream for heavy cream for over a year and love it: soups, caramel sauce and it even whips in my c02 whipper. I hadn't thought about a gratin, though and this looks so good. Maybe even a bit of red pepper blended in with the cashews.

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  3. This sound delectable. Thanks for sharing this wonderful post :)

  4. Oh this makes me soooo happy! I can't wait to try this, I think I even have all of the ingredients in my cupboard! Who knew!