Thursday, August 14, 2008

Succotash-'Cheddar' Casserole with Crunchy 'Bacon' Topping

Succotash is traditionally made with corn and lima beans, so this is a great way to use the last of fresh summer corn before its season comes to a close. The richness of this casserole would make a good dinner, if you double the portions, and serve it alongside whole grain bread or mashed potatoes.

To start, add 2 cups frozen lima beans to boiling water and cook for five minutes. Drain and set aside.

Spray a large skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Add 3 slices of vegan bacon (such as Smart Bacon) and cook for 3 minutes, turning once, until crisp. The original recipe, of course, called for cooking the bacon in its own juices and using that to coat the pan, but since vegan bacon is a lot leaner (and healthier!) add cooking spray so nothing sticks.

Remove the 'bacon' from the pan - crumble and set aside. To the pan, add 2/3 cup finely chopped onion, 1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper, 2 minced garlic cloves and 1/4 tsp. salt. Cook for four minutes.

Stir in the cooked lima beans plus 2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 3-4 ears of corn).

While the vegetables have been cooking, make a 'slurry.' A slurry is a 'suspension of solids in a liquid', according to Wikipedia. In cooking terms, this means a liquid and a starch, used as a thickening agent. In this case, place 2 and a half tablespoons flour in a bowl. Gradually add 1/3 cup plain soy milk (such as Silk) to form the slurry, stirring with a whisk.

Add the slurry to the vegetables in the pan, along with an additional 1/4 tsp. salt and an additional cup of plain soy milk. Cook for another 2 and 1/2 minutes over medium heat until the mixture is thick and bubbly. Remove from heat and stir in 3/4 cup shredded vegan cheddar cheese (try the cheddar block from Galaxy Foods), stirring until the 'cheese' melts.

Transfer to an 8-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray.

The original recipe called for crumbled Ritz crackers as a topping. I was not optimistic, heading to the grocery store, that I would be able to find an exact vegan substitute, but on the shelf I made a great discovery! The Classic Rich flavor "flaky buttery tasting crackers" from Late July organics contain: no trans fat, no hydrogenated oils, no corn syrup, no artificial flavors or colors, no preservatives, no cholesterol and are certified kosher and VEGAN. It was like stumbling upon a dream come true. So everybody, hie to the website for Late July: I intend to make this my snacking company of choice.

Anyway, place 15 of the 'classic rich' flavored crackers in a zip lock plastic bag and crush using a rolling pin. Sprinkle evenly over the succotash. Top that evenly with the crumbled 'bacon' slices.

Cook it at 375 degrees for 20 minutes until nice and bubbly. Divide into six servings of 3/4 cup (260 calories).

lima beans $2.19
vegan bacon $2.50
onion $1.06
red bell pepper $1.47
corn $2.99
soy milk $1.00
'cheddar cheese' $3.39
crackers $2.99

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The Vegan Pantry

  • Vegan yogurt - Whole Soy
  • Vegan milk - Silk
  • Vegan Feta - Sunergia
  • Vegan Cheese - Galaxy Foods
  • Vegan Eggs - Ener-G
  • Vegan Butter - Earth Balance