Potato Mochi Gratin
What’s better for a cool fall evening than a hearty, creamy, potato gratin? This fully plant-based version features tri-colored potatoes, crunchy broccoli, sweet peas, and savory caramelized shallots enveloped in layers of a ‘cheese-y’ cream sauce made from a base of squash, carrots, and cashews. For a truly unique dinner, this gratin features health-boosting asian ingredients like umeboshi plum vinegar, red miso, crispy panko, and sprouted brown rice mochi to kick up the flavor and switch up the textures. The end result is creamy, crunchy, sweet, rich, and gooey. For an elegant herbaceous touch, top it off with chopped raw garlic scapes and lightly fried sage leaves; be careful not to cook the sage for too long, as it can go from crispy and light to brown and burnt in the blink of an eye!
>> 3 tsp + 2 tbsp olive oil *
>> 8 cups water *
>> 3 tsp salt
>> ½ cup raw cashews
>> 2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cut into large dices
>> 1 cup carrots, cut into ½ inch rounds
>> 2 tbsp umeboshi plum vinegar *
>> 1 tbsp + 1 tsp red miso *
>> 1 garlic clove
>> 1 cup shallots, sliced into thin rounds
>> 1 cup each of red, yellow, and purple potatoes sliced into ⅛ in rounds
>> 1 cup small broccoli florets
>> ½ cup sweet green peas
>> 1 small bunch of fresh thyme, chopped
>> 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
>> 1 cup mochi, grated
>> ½ cup panko bread crumbs
>> 1 tbsp chopped garlic scape
>> 1 small bunch of fresh sage
* These ingredients will be split between multiple steps in the recipe. Be sure to reserve the right amounts!
>> Medium sized saucepan
>> Medium sized mixing bowl
>> High-speed blender
>> 14 in cast iron skillet or shallow baking dish
>> Small mixing bowl
>> Small frying pan
>> Paper towels
STEP 1: Boil & drain the cream-sauce veggies
>> Preheat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit. Soak cashews in 2 cups of hot water. In a medium sized saucepan, boil 6 cups of water. Once a rolling boil is reached, add the chopped butternut squash and carrots. Boil for 15 minutes or until the veggies are very soft when a fork is inserted into them. Put your colander inside your medium sized mixing bowl. Drain the veggies and the cooking liquid into the colander and bowl. Set aside the ½ cup of the cooking liquid to use to thin the cream sauce.
Bonus: This liquid will be slightly sweet and starchy and the rest of the unused liquid can make a good digestive tea. Whatever you don’t use for the recipe can be returned to the stove and jazzed up with some ginger and lemon!
STEP 2: Blend the cream-sauce
>> Drain and rinse the cashews. In a high-speed blender, add the cooked butternut squash & carrots, 1 tbsp umeboshi vinegar, 1 tbsp red miso, garlic, ¼ cup - ½ cup of the reserved cooking liquid (enough to reach a thick consistency, start with ¼ cup and add more if needed), and a ½ tsp of salt. Blend until smooth.
STEP 3: Caramelize the shallots
>> In your cast iron or a small frying pan over medium heat, saute the shallots in 1 tsp of olive oil until soft, translucent and caramelized, about 10 minutes. Once cooked, transfer from the pan to a bowl.
STEP 4: Mix together mochi ingredients
>> In a small mixing bowl, combine shredded mochi, 1 tbsp umeboshi vinegar, 1 tsp red miso, 2 tsp olive oil, and nutritional yeast until the mochi is well covered with the other ingredients.
STEP 5: Layer ingredients
>> Use the cast iron that the shallots were fried in (no need to clean it, the shallot-fried oil residue will add flavor!) to layer all of the ingredients. Start with a base of the cream sauce, then a thin layer of potatoes, then a layer of broccoli, peas, thyme, and shallots. Repeat with the other 2 cups of potatoes and remaining veggies and sauce. Top it off with remaining sauce, the mochi mixture, and panko bread crumbs. Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes.
Step 6: Garnish and munch!
>> In a small frying pan, heat the remaining 2 tbsp of olive oil over medium/low heat. Add a few sage leaves at a time and fry for 4-5 seconds, until light and crispy. Remove from oil and put on a paper towel, sprinkle a pinch of salt over the fried leaves.
After the 40 minute bake-time, remove the gratin from the oven. The potatoes should be very soft when a fork is inserted into them, the mochi should be melted and gooey, and the panko topping should be very crispy. Allow to cool, top with fried sage leaves and chopped garlic scapes. Enjoy!