Growing up, I was never a fan of mashed potatoes. Weird, I know. They were just a little too paste-like for me. (I didn’t like apple sauce or oatmeal either.) I loved roasted potatoes and French fries, though. My favorite potato dish was potatoes au gratin. Cheese covered potatoes? What’s not to love about that?
My mom made potatoes au gratin from a boxed mix. I haven’t seen that it in years, but I know that it does still exist. I’m kind of curious as to how potatoes can come packaged in a box now that I’m older. They can’t be good, can they?
Now that I’m older, I haven’t lost my taste for potatoes au gratin. I do, however, prefer them to be made with fresh ingredients. And, of course, they need to be dairy-free.
Last year, I shared my scalloped potatoes recipe for Thanksgiving. This recipe is similar, but there are a few differences.
“Gratin” comes from the French word for grated, so potatoes au gratin are topped with grated breadcrumbs by definition. Usually they’re toasted buttery breadcrumbs, but here, I’ve left out the butter and allowed the oven to do the toasting.
Potatoes au gratin are made with cheese where scalloped potatoes are made with a cream sauce. Since Americans love their cheese so much, cheese is often added to scalloped potatoes, which is another reason that the two dishes can be confused for each other.
I’ve mixed things up a little with this vegan potatoes au gratin recipe. I’ve added some kale between the potato layers for a little extra boost of nutrition. (You can use spinach, collard greens, or chard, if you prefer them.) And of course, I’ve used dairy-free cheese sauce. My Veggie-Packed Vegan Cheese Sauce is made with carrots, cauliflower, onion, making this dish a great way to sneak extra veggies into the meals of picky eaters.
Slicing potatoes can be a little tricky. It’s best done with a mandoline slicer or the slicing blade of a food processor. I use my food processor, which creates perfect slices in a matter of seconds.
If you’re not cooking this dish immediately, the potato slices might turn a not-so-appetizing grey color. Just place the potato slices in a bowl of cold water immediately after slicing to avoid that.
Vegan Potatoes Au Gratin with Kale is a terrific side dish to serve with Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. Paired with a lentil loaf or a stuffed portobello mushroom, it makes a terrific comfort food meal for a chilly autumn evening.
Vegan Potatoes Au Gratin with Kale
- 1 bunch Tuscan kale, stems removed, coarsely chopped
- 2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes or red potatoes
- 1 recipe Veggie-Packed Vegan Cheese Sauce
- ½ cup breadcrumbs (gluten-free, if needed)
- ¼ nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon paprika
Preheat your oven to 400°F.
Add about 2” inches of water to a large pot, and bring it to a boil. Place a steamer insert into the pot and add the kale. Cover the pot and allow to cook for 5 minutes, or until the kale has wilted and is bright green. Remove the kale from the steamer and set aside until ready to use.
If you don’t have a steamer basket, you can blanch the kale. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and have a bowl of ice water standing by. Place the kale into the boiling water and allow to cook for about 3 minutes, or until bright green. Use a slotted spoon to carefully transfer the kale to the bowl of ice water. Then place the kale in a colander and squeeze out any excess water.
While the kale is steaming, cut the potatoes. Use the slicing blade of a food processor or mandoline slicer to cut them into thin slices. They should be about ¼” thick.
Mix the breadcrumbs and nutritional yeast together in a small bowl.
Layer half of the potatoes into a 9x13-inch casserole dish. Top with half the kale, and then pour on half of Veggie-Packed Vegan Cheese Sauce.
Repeat with another layer of potatoes, kale, and cheese sauce.
Top with the breadcrumb mixture. Sprinkle the paprika on top.
Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes.
Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs are golden brown.