Julie’s creamy spinach florentine + a Blendtec giveaway!

Creamy Spinach Florentine from Vegan Casseroles | A Dash of Compassion

Today I’m going to talk about a new cookbook that has been getting a fair amount of attention lately—one that’s just in time for fall and winter gatherings with a slew of comforting meals in the form of Vegan Casseroles

If you’re in tune with the vegan scene, you’ll likely recognize the author’s name and want to buy this book immediately. In case you don’t know, Julie Hasson is the beautiful and talented powerwoman behind eight other cookbooks, a line of gluten-free and vegan baking mixes called Julie’s Original, the Internet cooking show Everyday Dish, the hip food cart Native Bowl in Portland, and the original Babycakes Bakery in LA. Yep, she does it all.

Vegan Casseroles

Julie took on quite a challenge with this cookbook topic, and for that I am truly impressed. You see, when people talk about traditional comfort food, it typically means using key ingredients that are off limits to health-conscious vegans. Recreating the flavours of eggplant parm, shepherd’s pie, and cheesy rice and broccoli casserole without the cheese, eggs, butter or even any of the processed vegan substitutes, for example, means Julie had to rethink the whole casserole concept and look at it with fresh eyes.Creamy Spinach Florentine from Vegan Casseroles | A Dash of Compassion

I love that her new book emphasizes whole food ingredients. The resulting recipes are a mix of retro flavours—with a variety of cashew-based cheese sauces and a lighter cream of mushroom soup for that creamy goodness—and comforting, veggie-full dishes like cabbage rolls, stuffed swiss chard, and creamed greens. You can even invent your own casserole creations by pairing any of the super-simple sauces with your favourite veggies or pasta.

Book chapters include:

  • The vegan casserole pantry
  • One-dish appetizers
  • Dutch-oven and skillet casseroles
  • Old favorites and new twists
  • Pasta casseroles
  • Vegetable casseroles
  • Dessert casseroles
  • Sauces, toppings and basics

So far, my favourite recipe in this book is the creamy spinach florentine on page 98. It makes use of the almost alfredo sauce from the sauces, toppings and basics chapter to create a creamy base for the pasta and spinach. In this recipe, the addition of Dijon mustard, sherry and fresh nutmeg add a lot of depth and warmth to the dish. I can see myself pouring the sauce over steamed broccoli and other veggies, too.

Creamy Spinach Florentine from Vegan Casseroles | A Dash of Compassion

If you’re not already excited about this book, I’ve got something else to share. Julie is inviting all ADC readers to enter a grand prize giveaway for a brand new BLENDTEC Designer 725 Blender! Five runners up will receive a copy of Vegan Casseroles.

Please note the giveaway prizes can only be shipped to US mailing addresses. Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Even if you don’t win, you’re still in luck because Julie was kind enough to allow me to share the florentine recipe from her book. Go make it now! And then buy the book to get more amazing casserole recipes.

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Creamy spinach florentine

Yield: Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the almost alfredo sauce:

  • 2 1/2 cups plain unsweetened soymilk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup raw unsalted cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours and drained
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
  • 3 tablespoons oat flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 11/4 teaspoons fine sea salt, or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon granulated onion

For the florentine:

  • 8 ounces dried shell pasta or macaroni
  • 1 (10-ounce) bag frozen spinach, thawed
  • 1 recipe Almost Alfredo Sauce (see below)
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons dry sherry, depending how strong of a sherry taste you like
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 teaspoon granulated onion
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

For the almost alfredo sauce:

  1. In the jar of a blender, combine the soymilk, water, cashews, nutritional yeast, oat flour, cornstarch, salt, and granulated onion. Blend the mixture at high speed until completely smooth and no bits of nuts remain. If you don’t have a big blender, blend the mixture in two batches.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a large saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Bring the sauce to a simmer, whisking continuously. Once the mixture comes to a simmer, reduce the heat slightly and cook, whisking continuously until thickened, about 5 to 10 minutes. Tip: Use a good-tasting unsweetened soymilk for this sauce, as the flavor really comes through. If you’re using a high-speed blender, you can skip the soaking step for the cashews and just use them dry. Add a little extra water to blend if needed.

For the florentine:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease an 8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish.
  2. In a large pot of lightly salted boiling water, add the pasta and cook according to package directions until al dente. Don’t overcook the pasta, especially if you’re using one that is gluten-free. Drain the pasta well and transfer to a large bowl.
  3. Drain most of the liquid out of the spinach by gently squeezing it, but don’t squeeze it completely dry. Add the spinach to the pasta, along with the sauce, mixing until the pasta is thickly coated. Add the sherry, Dijon mustard, nutritional yeast, granulated onion, and nutmeg, stirring well. Add salt and pepper, and adjust seasonings to taste. Scoop the pasta mixture into the prepared baking dish. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until hot and slightly bubbly around the edges. Remove from the oven and serve.

To make gluten-free: Use a gluten-free oat flour in the sauce and gluten-free pasta (my favorite here is brown rice macaroni).

Reprinted with permission from Vegan Casseroles © 2014 by Julie Hasson, Running Press.