Monday, March 22, 2010

Florentine Rice Noodle Gratin

In culinary terms, Florentine dishes (i.e., characteristic of the region around Florence, in Tuscany) feature spinach and creamy-style sauces - this dish definitely fits that bill! According to one story, the origin of the term comes from Catherine de Medici, who dubbed any dish containing spinach 'Florentine' to honor her roots, when she came to the French court.

The original recipe for this gratin called for Swiss cheese, but alas, no vegan version exists that I know of; Galaxy Foods makes a soy Swiss, but it contains a milk protein! Instead, I used the vegan Gouda from Sheese.

Cook 8 ounces of wide rice stick noodles (also called banh pho) in boiling water for 5 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water, and then drain again. Set aside.

Meanwhile, in a blender combine 1 and 1/4 cups plain soy milk (such as Silk) with 1/2 cup shredded vegan cheese in place of Swiss, 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. nutmeg, 1/4 tsp. black pepper, 2 vegetable bouillon cubes (the Rapunzel brand is certified vegan), and 1 (8-ounce) package of vegan cream cheese (such as Tofutti's Better than Cream Cheese); process until smooth.

Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add 1 and 1/2 cups chopped onion and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the cooked rice noodles, the soy milk mixture, and 1 (10-ounce) package of spinach - thawed in advance and squeezed dry; stir to combine.

Note: if, like me, you have a tendency to forget to thaw frozen veggies in advance, here's a quick trick: place the frozen vegetables in a colander and run under warm water from the tap for a moment or two - the veggies will thaw to room temperature in no time!

Transfer the noodle mixture to an 8-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray and sprinkle with an additional 1/2 cup shredded vegan cheese (again, I used the Gouda from Sheese). Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.

You'll have 6 servings of 1 and 1/4 cups and 310 calories each.

wide rice stick noodles $2.99
fresh rosemary $2.49
vegetable bouillon cubes $2.00
vegan cream cheese $2.29
onion $0.51
frozen spinach $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