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Julie Hasson is the author of 8 cookbooks, including Vegan Diner and Vegan Pizza. Julie opened the original Babycakes Bakery (a wholesale bakery that supplied Los Angeles restaurants and coffeehouses with artisan baked goods) and has contributed articles and recipes to numerous publications. She is also the host of the Internet cooking show Everyday Dish and has been featured on TV and radio. Julie is currently the Healthy Living Expert on Good Day Oregon, and was one of the hosts of the TV cooking show 15 & Done. She and her husband, Jay, recently launched a line of gluten-free vegan baking mixes called Julie’s Original. They live in Portland,OR. Please visit her at www.juliehasson.com.

When it comes to traditional comfort food, most of the key ingredients are off-limits to health-conscious vegans. But giving up shepherd’s pie, eggplant parm, and cheesy rice casserole was not an option for Julie Hasson, who took on the challenge to recreate flavors she loved, but without the cheese, eggs, butter, and cholesterol. “I thought it would be pretty easy to take traditional casserole recipes and give them a vegan spin,” she says, “Wow: I couldn’t have been more wrong.”

Lucky for cooks, Hasson’s done all the hard work, with her new book, VEGAN CASSEROLES: PASTA BAKES, GRATINS, POT PIES, AND MORE, creating vegan recipes that come together quickly (hint: her chapter on sauces is key!) and taste great too. Focusing on whole-food ingredients crafted into healthier takes on old favorites, the results are a mix of retro flavors—with nacho cheesy sauces and a lighter cream of mushroom soup for that creamy goodness—and fresh, veggie-forward dishes like cabbage rolls and greens with cashew cream sauce.

Not only does the book include American-style casseroles like Sloppy Joe Cornbread Casseroles and Mac and Cheese, but also beloved international dishes like Enchiladas, Lasagna, Quiche, and Kugels.  These are casseroles that can be served to one’s family and friends—without any guilt.

Truffled Cauliflower Mac

Serves 4

Truffled Cauliflower Mac

Sometimes you can never have enough truffle–or macaroni. This dish is for those times. It has a very rich flavor, with a creamy truffle sauce, steamed cauliflower, and a panko topping. If you happen to have a fresh truffle, you can go crazy and shave a few ultra-thin slices into the sauce before baking.

8 ounces dried macaroni noodles
1/2 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
1 recipe Almost Alfredo Sauce (recipe follows), using the truffle variation
Truffle salt or fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Double recipe Crumb Topping (recipe follows)
Truffle oil, for garnish (optional) 

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease 9 x 13-inch glass or ceramic baking dish.

In a large pot of lightly salted boiling water, add the macaroni and cook according to package directions until tender. When the pasta is about 2 minutes away from being done, add the cauliflower to the boiling pasta water. You want the cauliflower to be just fork-tender and the noodles to be al dente. Drain the pasta and cauliflower well and transfer to a large bowl.

Add the prepared sauce to the cooked macaroni and cauliflower, mixing until the pasta is coated. Add salt and pepper to taste. Scoop the macaroni into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the crumb mixture over the top of the casserole. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the top is nicely browned, and the casserole is heated through. Remove from the oven, drizzle the top of the casserole with a little additional truffle oil, if desired, and serve.

Variations: To make a straight truffle mac casserole, simply omit the cauliflower.

Gluten-Free: Use a gluten-free macaroni, such as brown rice macaroni, as well as gluten-free breadcrumbs in the topping.


Almost Alfredo Sauce

Makes about 3 cups

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

1 1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt, or more to taste
1 teaspoon granulated onion

In the jar of a blender, combine the soymilk, water, cashews, nutritional yeast flakes, 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.

Transfer the mixture to a large saucepan and place over medium-high heat. Bring the sauce to a simmer, whisking continuously. Once mixture comes to a simmer, reduce 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. Tip: 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.

Variations: To make a truffle sauce, to the blender jar add 1 to 3 tablespoons truffle oil to taste and reduce the granulated onion to 1/2 teaspoon. Add a few sprinkles of freshly grated nutmeg.

To make a white wine sauce, replace 3/4 cup of the soymilk with an equal amount of white wine.

To make this sauce lower in fat, reduce the cashews to 1/3 cup.

Gluten-free: Use a gluten-free oat flour.


Buttery Crumb Topping

Makes about 1/2 cup, enough to top an 8 or 9-inch casserole

1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons nonhydrogenated vegan margarine, melted
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes
1 clove garlic, pressed or finely minced
Pinch of salt

In a small bowl, mix together the panko breadcrumbs, margarine, nutritional yeast flakes, garlic, and a pinch of salt. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Tip: You can substitute olive oil for the margarine, if desired.

Variations: For an herbed garlic-flavored-topping, add 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs. For a richer topping, increase the melted margarine to 3 tablespoons.

Gluten-Free: Use gluten-free panko breadcrumbs. My favorite brand is Ian’s, which is also egg-free and dairy-free.


Apple Cinnamon Kugel

Serves 4 as a side dish

Apple Cinnamon Kugel

I grew up on kugel at holidays and family gatherings. It’s a sweet Jewish casserole with noodles, held together with a creamy filling. I absolutely adored it. It’s traditionally made with a lot of butter, and even more eggs and dairy, so it took me a long time to veganize the recipe and get it just right, but I did it! And the best part of all is that it is even better than the original.

8 ounces dried rotelle pasta, bow-tie, or any type of noodle that resembles wide, flat egg noodles

1 1/2 (12.3-ounce) boxes firm or extra-firm silken tofu (such as Mori-Nu)
1/2 cup vegan sour cream
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 crisp apple, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced (such as Granny Smith)
1/3 cup raisins, or more to taste

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish with shortening.

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.

In the bowl of a food processor or a blender jar, combine the tofu, sour cream, applesauce, 3/4 cup sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and vanilla, and blend until it’s completely smooth. This might take a minute or two. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides as necessary.

Transfer the sour cream mixture to the bowl with the pasta. Add the apples and raisins, mixing well. Scoop the mixture into the prepared baking dish, smoothing the top as best as you can. Sprinkle the top with the remaining 11/2 tablespoons granulated sugar and some ground cinnamon to taste. Bake for 60 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and slightly firm to the touch, and the kugel has puffed up a little.

Let the pan cool on a rack before slicing into squares and serving. The kugel can be served warm or cold.

Tip: The kugel is wonderful refrigerated overnight before serving, as it has the chance to firm up, making it much easier to slice. It will keep refrigerated for several days—if it doesn’t get eaten sooner.

Variations: If you prefer your kugel sweeter, you can increase the sugar to taste.

Gluten-Free: Use gluten-free noodles in this recipe. My personal favorite here is quinoa rotelle.


These recipes may be reproduced with the following credit:

Recipes from Vegan Casseroles: Pasta Bakes, Gratins, Pot Pies, and More by Julie Hasson. (Running Press; October 2014; $20.00/Trade Paperback; ISBN-13; 978-0762448845). http://www.runningpress.com/

Contact: Seta Zink