My recipe this week, surprisingly, involves rutabaga. (It’s only a surprise, really, if you know my history with this gnarly root–but we’ve now gotten past our differences, the ‘Baga and I).
It all started in the Garden of Eden. Well, okay, not literally, but it began with the promise of a portrait. And before that, it had its roots in the early days of my romance with the HH. And before that, it occurred with basically every man who ever went on a date with any woman, back through the centuries. . . as far back, even, as Adam and Eve.
It all started with a guy who promised, “I’ll call you.”
Yes, men have gotten in hot water over this one for all eternity. You know how it goes: you’re at the end of a first date and he walks you to the door to say goodnight. You’re standing beneath the beam of a streetlight as it illuminates the hopeful glint in your eyes. You gaze askance. “I had a great time,” you whisper (a little breathlessly), tilting your chin up toward his face.
“Me, too,” he replies, and brushes a kiss across your cheek. “Yeah, let’s do it again. I’ll call you.”
I mean, can’t you just imagine it? Garden of Eden. Eve says to Adam, “Hey, how do you like them apples?” Adam replies, “Wow, those were great. Let’s do this again. I’ll call you.” And she never hears from him again.
Just as Freud wrestled with the question of What Women Really Want, every woman alive has attempted to solve the mystery of “Why do men say they’ll call and then never call?” In fact, an entire movie was even devoted to the conundrum.
I’ve asked the HH about this (far too many times, according to him). Why do men (or anyone, for that matter) promise to do things they subsequently don’t deliver? The HH’s theory is that “we mean it at the time we say it.” It’s just that somehow, between the kiss at the door and buckling the seatbelt, that good intention dissolves as the guys realize that nope, they’re just not that into you.
Apart from not calling me after our first date (or our second, or third, or pretty much ever since then), the HH and I have an ongoing joke about another of his unkept promises (no, nothing to do with “The M Word”–I have no desire to repeat youthful mistakes, either).
For years now, the HH has promised to paint a portrait of me. You see, even though he never pursued it as a career, the HH (who studied Fine Arts in university) happens to be one of the most talented artists I’ve ever seen. (In the early days of our relationship, I was constantly blown away by his artistic abilities. Sitting around the dinner table at my friend Gemini I’s cottage one evening, the HH grabbed a pencil on the table, pulled over a napkin and–within the space of 45 seconds–drew a likeness of the niveous scene outside the window: the moonlit cottage across the frozen lake, the towering pines, the drifting snow. Gemini I asked if she could keep it, and it now hangs in their family room.)
Although he doesn’t paint any more, I pleaded cajoled begged asked the HH if he’d do a portrait of me (and make me look 10 pounds lighter in it, of course). When he hemmed and hawed, I questioned what it would take to convince him. His answer? “Make some authentic Scalloped Potatoes for me.” (And he meant, to eat!). Well, what can I say–the guy likes potatoes.
Needless to say, he had his potatoes that week. And that week was. . . oh, perhaps 312 weeks or so ago. Do I have my portrait? Of course not. (But he really meant it at the time that he said it. . . ). .
Those potatoes came to mind as I was browsing through last month’s issue of Whole Living magazine the other day. Like Martha Stewart’s other publications (Living and Everyday Food), Whole Living quite often features vegan or vegan-friendly recipes. And right there, in an article about “Dishing Up Nostalgia” with health-conscious chefs, was a recipe for Rutabaga Gratin. Which looked exactly like scalloped potatoes. This might be my chance to nab that portrait after all, I mused.
Although I’ve never been a lover of rutabaga (unless it’s the almond butter-crusted variety, that is), I knew the moment I saw the photo that I’d love this dish. In fact, this is the perfect dress-up ensemble for the otherwise homely rutabaga. Softened and sweetened by its slow roast in the oven, the rutabaga is transformed from dowdy tuber to ravishing root. With its rich, silky robe of cashew cream and nubby breadcrumb collar, little ‘Baga gets all dressed up for its big date in this recipe.
I fed this to the HH and he was, like me, enraptured. “This stuff is great!” he enthused, scooping up almost half the casserole onto his plate. “It might even be better than scalloped potatoes,” he went on. “You’ve definitely got to make this again.”
“Sure thing,” I said. “Maybe next week.” Turns out, that was two weeks ago. But I did mean it when I said it. . . .
Rutabaga Gratin (adapted from Whole Living, November 2010)
This is the one rutabaga dish you’ll love even if you don’t like rutabaga. I made some adjustments to the original recipe to accommodate the ACD since the original included nutritional yeast. And while the ingredient list seems long, this comes together really quickly since everything is blended, mixed together and then baked.
For the Cashew Cream:
1-3/4 cups (420 ml) boiling water
1/2 cup (120 ml) sesame tahini
1-1/2 Tbsp (22.5 ml) light miso
2 tsp (10 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup (150 g) raw cashews
For the Breadcrumbs:
2 slices rustic gluten-free bread (I used quinoa bread)
1 Tbsp (15 ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic
For the Gratin:
2 small or one large rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1/8 inch (2 mm) thick rounds
fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsp plus 2 tsp (40 ml) herbs de provence [or use the original recipe’s seasonings: 4 tsp (20 ml) chopped fresh thyme and 4 tsp (20 ml) chopped fresh marjoram]
1/4 tsp (1 ml) ground nutmeg
2 Tbsp (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic
Make the cashew cream:
Place cashews in a medium bowl and cover with boiling water; allow to sit for 15-30 minutes, until they begin to soften. Pour the cashews (and water) into a blender with the remaining cream ingredients and blend until perfectly smooth and creamy. Set aside.
Make the breadcrumbs: Tear bread into pieces and place in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until you have fine crumbs, then toss the crumbs with the oil. Set aside.
Assemble the gratin: Preheat oven to 375F (190C). Grease a nine inch (22 cm) casserole dish with nonstick spray or a bit of extra virgin olive oil.
Cover the bottom of the casserole dish with a layer of rutabaga slices, overlapping slightly to cover the entire surface (but keep slices in a single layer). Season with salt, pepper, and half the herbs. Add another layer of rutabaga on top of the first and season with salt, pepper and the rest of the herbs. Cover with about 1/3 of the cashew cream (enough to cover both layers). Continue in this manner until the baking dish is full, then pour in the remaining cashew cream. Sprinkle the nutmeg over the top layer.
Bake in preheated oven on a baking sheet (to catch any overflow that spills out) for 30 minutes, then remove and rotate the casserole before sprinkling the top with the breadcrumbs. Bake an additional 45-55 minutes, until the rutabaga is soft when pierced with a knife and the breadcrumbs are browned. Makes 6-8 servings.
Per serving: 149 calories; 1 g saturated fat; 5 g unsaturated fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 18 g carbs; 89 mg sodium; 5 g protein; 4 g fiber
Suitable for: ACD Stage 2 and beyond; refined sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg free, soy-free, yeast-free, vegan.
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