Vegan Creamed Pearl Onions with Kale is an updated family holiday classic. It's the perfect side dish for Christmas dinner. No one will miss the dairy! This easy recipe is dairy free with a gluten-free option.
Creamed Pearl Onions
Years ago I came across a recipe for Creamed Pearl Onions and Fennel on Epicurious, and I was suddenly reminded of the pearl onions that my mom would make for holidays. There were two dishes that she always made: “My Cornbread Stuffing”, which was a box of Stovetop Stuffing mix with added sausage, and “My Pearl Onions”, which was frozen pearl onions with a powered cream sauce mix. I’m not sure why she added the “my” to the name, because it wasn’t like it was there was recipe she was passing down through the generations. The dishes came from boxes and packages just like everything else most of us ate in the 70s.
I hated onions when I was young, so I was always kind of grossed out by the idea of creamed pearl onions. I never tried them, and I'm not 100 percent sure how she was making them. It's possible she was buying a package of frozen pearl onions already in cream sauce and heating them on the stove. Or maybe she was combining frozen pearl onions and one of those packages of powdered just-add-milk sauce. Either way, it wasn't for me.
Vegan Creamed Pearl Onions
The recipe on Epicurious piqued my interested though, and it seemed like a great dish to veganize for the holidays. Rather than use fennel, I added kale to the dish, which I find much tastier.
Creamed pearl onions are usually served simply as a dish of cooked pearled onions with a cream sauce rather than as a casserole, but I enjoy it this way. It's sort of a take on My Green Bean Casserole, but with pearl onions and kale in the place of green beans and mushrooms.
How to make Vegan Creamed Pearl Onions
This recipe is easy to make!
- First you mix together the cashews, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, non-dairy milk, and salt in a high-speed blender until it's smooth and creamy. I like to use my Blendtec‘s Twister Jar.
- Next you heat the oil in a large pan and cook the onions for 10 to 15 minutes, or until they've browned to your liking.
- Now you add the garlic and kale to the pan and stir until the kale is wilted. You may need to add the kale in two bunches, if your pan is on the small side.
- Then you mix together the panko breadcrumbs with the remaining nutritional yeast, dry mustard powder, pepper, salt, and red pepper flakes.
- Now you remove the onions and kale from the heat and mix in the cashew cream.
- Next you pour the mixture into a casserole dish and top it with the breadcrumb mixture.
- Finally you bake the dish in a 350° oven for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the top is golden and the casserole is bubbly.
If you're prepping your dish in advance, keep the vegetables, cashew cream, and breadcrumbs separate and then assemble everything when you're ready to cook.
I prefer to cook my onions for about 15 minutes before I add the kale to the pan. I prefer them when they've browned nicely and they've lost their bite. You can cook them for a shorter period of time, if you don't like they as well-done as I do.
You can use peeled, fresh onions instead of frozen ones, if you prefer.
If you follow a gluten-free diet, make sure your panko breadcrumbs are gluten-free.
Serving Your Dish
Serve your dish while it's hot. It reheats well, but the cashew cream may thicken a little.
It's a great side dish for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, but you can serve it with any hearty meal.
Vegan Creamed Pearl Onions and Kale
- 1 cup raw cashews soaked for 2 hours, drained and rinsed
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 4 tablespoons nutritional yeast divided
- 1 ½ cups plain, unsweetened non-dairy milk
- 1 teaspoon sea salt divided
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 12-ounce bags frozen pearl onions thawed
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 bunch green curly kale destemmed and chopped into bite-sized pieces (about 6 cups
- ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
- ½ teaspoon mustard powder
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Preheat oven to 350°F and lightly oil a casserole dish.
- Mix together the cashews, lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast, non-dairy milk, and ½ teaspoon salt in a high-speed blender or food processor until smooth and creamy. Set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Add the onions and cook for 10-15 minutes, until they've browned, stirring often.
- Add the garlic and kale to the pan and stir until the kale is wilted. Add a little water if the pan is too dry. You may need to add the kale in two bunches, if your pan is on the small side.
- While the onions are cooking, mix together the panko breadcrumbs with the remaining 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast, dry mustard powder, the remaining salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Set aside.
- Remove the vegetables from the heat and mix in the cashew cream.
- Pour the mixture into the casserole dish and top with the breadcrumb mixture.
- Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the top is golden and the casserole is bubbly.