It happens every so often that the cashier at the grocery store will comment on our food purchase. “That’s a LOT of vegetables,” or “You don’t have any meat!” they’ll say. The other day we had one such comment. The cashier told us that he has the “opposite diet” of us, that he “doesn’t eat vegetables.” He said that he has tried eating them, but that he is still hungry afterwards and so gives up on being meat-free.
If you eat only green and yellow, non-starchy vegetables, you will be hungry. That’s because these plant-based foods are so low in calories that it is truly difficult to eat enough quantity of them to satisfy the body’s caloric needs. Successful cultures throughout history have included starchy plant-based foods as a staple of their diet. I’m talking about rice, corn, grains, beans, peas, and potatoes. Just imagine if you ate a nice big green salad. How soon would you be hungry again? Now what if you ate a plate of whole wheat spaghetti with marinara sauce? The reason we are more full after eating the spaghetti is that it is more starchy and calorically dense. Our bodies need those calories to function.
I challenge anyone who thinks that they can’t eat their fill of a whole foods, plant-based diet to try this potatoes “au gratin” recipe! “Au gratin” is traditionally a method of preparing a dish with a breadcrumb and cheese topping. Of course this dish does not include any dairy. The “cheese” sauce is made with flavorful nutritional yeast and smooth, delicious tahini.
We happened to have some leftover roasted butternut squash to serve alongside this crispy potato delight. You can roast squash at home by halving and seeding the squash, covering it face-up with tinfoil on a baking sheet, and baking it at 420F for 1 hour. Then simply scoop out the flesh and serve.
If you have some fresh garlic chives out in your spring gardens, do use some to top the potatoes.
Garlicky Potatoes “Au Gratin”
1 Bag red potatoes, washed and sliced very thin (about 5 pounds)
5 Cloves of garlic, peeled
1 Large onion, peeled and quartered
2 Tablespoons sesame tahini
1/2 Cup water
1/2 Cup nutritional yeast
1/4 Teaspoon paprika
Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 450F. In the bowl of a food processor combine the garlic, onion, tahini, water and nutritional yeast. Process on high until very smooth and saucy. Combine the sliced potatoes and sauce in a large mixing bowl until the potatoes are evenly coated with the sauce. Add the freshly cracked black pepper. Layer the potato mixture in a large casserole dish. Cover and bake for 1 hour. To finish the potatoes off sprinkle the paprika on top and bake uncovered for an additional 3-4 minutes, until the top is just crispy.