HOW To Make Creamy Vegan Scalloped Potatoes

So, here we are today with a pile of potatoes and a recipe that will show you how to make a rich and comforting recipe without the greasy toppings.  No cheese, no butter, no bacon.  

On the upside, we're combining simple ingredients with big flavor to make a crowd pleasing dish that can fit almost anyone's diet.
It's a new take on scalloped potatoes using butternut squash and cashews to create a luscious cream sauce that is infused with onion, garlic, sage, and thyme.
I mean, what could go wrong with those ingredients?  I knew it would at least be edible.
See?  Luscious.

Now, I know what you're thinking!  But do I have to peel and cube and roast an entire butternut squash??
Enter cubed frozen butternut squash.  For a recipe where the squash is placed in a blender and pulverized I find it completely unnecessary to go through the whole peel/cube/roast process.  Unless that is your zen.

This way, you'll likely save money and definitely save time.  When it comes to cooking for Thanksgiving shortcuts are always appreciated.  Am I right?
The potatoes are sliced, then layered, and sent to the oven to bake.  A little broil action finishes things off and creates a crispy top layer.  
I could not stop taking bites of this while photographing.  And then cold out of the fridge hours later.

2 teaspoons grapeseed oil
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
1/2 teaspoon salt + pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
scant 1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme 
5 cups 1/2-inch cubed frozen butternut squash*, defrosted -- about 20oz
1 cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 4 hours
1/4 - 1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk, or other non-dairy milk
3-4 medium russet potatoes, scrubbed and dried
salt + pepper to taste
small handful of sage leaves and 1 tablespoon oil, optional

Heat a 9-10-inch cast iron pan over medium heat and add the oil.  Once hot, place the onion and salt and pepper in the pan and stir frequently for about 10 minutes until onions are softened and starting to brown.  Stir in the sage, garlic, and thyme for about 1 minute until fragrant. Preheat your oven to 350* F.  Remove onions from the heat and let cool for 5-10 minutes.

Place the defrosted squash in a high-power blender along with the onion mixture, soaked and drained cashews, and 1/4 cup of milk.  Blend until fully smooth, stirring and scraping the blender to keep things moving.  Add more milk if needed.  The sauce should be very thick but pourable. Set aside.

Slice potatoes with a sharp knife or mandolin slicer into 1/8-inch slices [important!].  Lightly oil the same cast iron pan you cooked the onions in or a 9-10 inch baking dish or pie pan.  Assemble potatoes overlapping slightly in a single layer covering the bottom of the pan.  Sprinkle with salt + pepper.  Pour a scant 1 cup of the sauce over top and spread evenly with a spatula.  Repeat 3 more times [4 layers total].  Cover the top with remaining sauce--about 1 cup--and smooth out.  Cover tightly with foil and bake for about 1 hour until potatoes are tender.  Test a potato for doneness.

While the potatoes cook heat a small pan over medium-high heat with the oil.  Line a plate with a doubled-over paper towel.  Once the pan is hot add the leaves and let cook until crispy on both sides.  This happens quickly--about a minute--so watch closely.  Place on the paper towel.  After the potatoes have finished baking turn your oven to broil, remove the foil, smooth the top layer of sauce, and broil for just a few minutes until golden brown.  Watch closely.  Remove and let cool slightly before serving.  Top with fried sage leaves, salt and pepper, and serve.

Frozen, bagged butternut squash has been slightly blanched before bagging and freezing.  If you're using fresh butternut squash it is important to blanch the squash until cooked about 1/2 way, or more if desired.  Let cool before blending.  To soak cashews: Submerge in water in a bowl and let sit on the counter for at least 4 hours or overnight.  Drain before using.  To defrost the squash: Place in your refrigerator the day before using, or let sit on the counter for a few hours the day of until room temp.  Drain any resulting liquid.

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