Its been a long old fashion season and the shows have gone on and on. My wonderful flat mates Charlotte and Sam have walked for miles and flown across the world dressing up for the likes of Burberry, Chanel, Dolce and Gabanna, Yves Saint Laurent and many many more - i would be lying if i said i could name them all. So, hot off the plane from Paris and exclusively chauffeured back from Liverpool by D Wiggo himself, Sam and Charlotte settled back into the nest, overflowing suitcases and bags of free trade in tow. A celebration dinner was definitely in order so whilst i was at work they spent their time wisely - in wholefoods. With some popular flat two ingredients to deal with we spent a while deciding how best to utilise them and came up with this. Spiced chicken breast, warm kale, spinach, leek and garden pea salad and potato gratin. But no ordinary gratin. No cream. No cheese. No flour. No so-full-i-cant-think aftermath. Just a successful improvisation of sweet, creamy, nutritious, healthy goodness.
I took inspiration from conventional recipes, replacing the cream with dairy-free almond milk and the flour with ground almonds to thicken. I added garlic for flavour which goes so wrongly unnoticed as a healthy, nutritious food. It is recognised as a natural remedy and strengthens the immune system, fighting infections, colds and congestion. It contains high levels of vitamin C which is always good and vitamin B6 which supports efficient growth of new cells. It also regulates blood sugar so is beneficial to diabetics and is good consumed after or with sugary foods to rebalance the insulin levels in your blood. Another food high in antioxidants it is said to improve acne, killing bacteria, and possesses anti-inflammatory qualities which instantly counteracts the damage caused by foods like carbohydrates and processed foods.
2 Medium Sweet Potatoes (can also use kohlrabi, squash or celeriac)
1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil, or Ghee
200ml Almond Milk (or other nut/plant based milk)
1 Tin Coconut Milk
2 Garlic Cloves
1/2 Cup Soaked Cashew Nuts, optional (use more coconut milk if you omit)
80ml Organic Stock
A Handful of Fresh Kale or Spinach, diced
1 Tablespoon Fresh Sage, diced
A Few Sprigs of Thyme
1/2 Teaspoon Nutmeg, optional
1 Teaspoon Fresh or Dried Rosemary
Himalayan Pink Salt and Pepper, to taste
2 Tablespoons Nutritional Yeast
+ If yours needs thickening, add 2 tablespoons ground almonds.
Preheat the oven to 180c.
Blend the cashew nuts with 1 - 2 tablespoons Almond Milk. Scrape down the sides regularly and blend for 2-3 minutes until fully smooth. Melt the coconut oil in a large pan and then add the cashew and almond mixture, the remaining almond milk, the stock, herbs, nutmeg, stock, nutritional yeast and chopped garlic. Simmer on a medium to low heat, whisking constantly. Season with salt and pepper and add more water if the sauce seems too thick, or add the ground almonds if it seems too thin.
Slice the potatoes, or whichever vegetables you are using, into thin discs. The thinner they are, the quicker they will cook. They will also layer more easily if they are thin and you can create more layers, which makes the perfect texture. Arrange the large vegetables into layers in an oven proof dish, covering the bottom entirely. Make one layer at a time, and arrange some kale or spinach on top of each layer of sweet potato. Spoon 2-3 tablespoons of the sauce over each layer too, and when you've used all of the sweet potato, use up the rest of the creamy sauce, covering the sweet potato entirely and filling the dish.
Bake in your preheated oven for 45 minutes, until the potatoes are soft and the top begins to bubble and brown.