One of my favorite pre-vegan dishes is a vegetable gratin. Something about drowning vegetables in cream sauce and/or cheese and topping it with bread crumbs makes simple veggies company worthy. Normally, I prefer my vegetables simply steamed or roasted. But this weekend, I wanted some Sunday dinner-worthy vegetables. I took it upon myself to veganize one of my favorite vegetable dishes. Since, this was a special vegetable dish, I decided to use earth balance to make my bechamel. (Bechemel is one of the three mother sauces in French cooking.) I don't usually like franken-foods, even vegan franken-foods, but I used the soy free Earth Balance, and only a couple of tablespoons. It was totally worth it!
Vegan Fennel and Leek Gratin
2 cups almond milk, heated gently on the stove
2.5 T soy-free earth balance
3 T wheat flour
salt and nutmeg to taste
1T nutritional yeast
2 heads fennel, chopped
2 leeks, chopped
Vegan panko bread crumbs to taste (I like a lot)
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt the Earth Balance over medium-low heat. Stir in the flour, and continue stirring for about 5 minutes. Whisk in the milk and continue to whisk until it thickens. (This will take longer than you think it should). The sauce should coat the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from the heat and add the spices and nutritional yeast.
Pour about a third of the sauce in the bottom of the baking dish. Put the veggies on top. Pour the rest of the sauce on. Finally, top with panko crumbs. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.
FYI, the leftovers make a great tortilla pizza topper.