Vegan Crunchy Gratin Potatoes
Potato gratin is a real potato classic. Nevertheless, it took us until today to develop a vegan version. How can that be? We don't know either, but we were probably quite distracted by our 30+ other potato recipes. But here it is at last: our special vegan potato gratin recipe with an even more special crunchy topping. But more on that later.
Step 1: The potatoes
First, we need to slice our whole potatoes. Whether you want to peel them is up to you. If you leave the peel on, you'll need to clean the potatoes thoroughly first. Using a food processor will save you a lot of time, but if you don't have one, you can also grate the potatoes or slice them with a knife. Ruler at the ready: If your slices are significantly thicker or thinner than 2 mm, you will have to adjust the baking time accordingly. Once all the potatoes have been sliced, you can start preparing the sauce.
Step 2: The sauce
For this, we sauté onions, garlic and vegan bacon or smoked tofu and deglaze the whole thing with a mix of silken tofu, plant-based heavy cream and spices. You can also use plant-based heavy cream exclusively, but since most plant-based cream substitutes turn translucent or brown during baking, the result is usually less visually appealing. Also, silken tofu delivers a very nice creaminess and richness rather than just being runny. You can find it in health food stores, larger supermarkets and, of course, Asian markets.
Step 3: Put it in the baking dish
The sauce is ready, and the potatoes are shaved. It's time to assemble. To do this, we alternate layers of sauce and potatoes. Be sure to distribute the „bacon“ evenly. For the latter, you can use either vegan bacon cubes or smoked tofu cut into small pieces.
Step 4: The crunchy topping
And now, for the best part: the crunchy topping. For this, we use crumbled crackers. And not just any crackers: We chose Sommer's gluten-free bean crackers, which is why you'll make all your gluten-intolerant friends overjoyed with this gratin. Sommer is a family-run organic company from the Taunus region of Germany that makes just about everything from high-quality sweet cookies to savory crackers (in most cases, vegan as well). German-grown field beans are the main ingredient in their new bean crackers, making them a great source of protein. Plus, growing legumes improves the soil because the plants enrich it with nitrogen, which in turn benefits biodiversity. By the way, the crackers come in two varieties: Sea Salt and vinegar and Spicy Seeds. Both varieties are super tasty. They were so tasty, in fact, that when I wasn't paying attention one time, they were all gone in one sitting. Fortunately, I was able to quickly get supplies for the test cooking; otherwise, we all would not be here today. But all's well that ends well. By the way, both varieties are great for your casserole.
Since the crackers are already seasoned, you just have to crumble them and spread them on your casserole. Add a layer of vegan shredded cheese on top, and then it's off to the oven. If the casserole browns too quickly on the surface, you can cover it with a piece of parchment paper. While the casserole is in the oven, you can occasionally test with a fork whether the potatoes are cooked.
Vegan Crunchy Gratin Potatoes
- 800 g (1.75 Ib) waxy potatoes
- 1 onion
- 1 clove of garlic
- 250 g (8.75 oz) silken tofu
- 250 ml (1 cup) plant-based heavy cream
- 0.5 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp dried rosemary
- 1 tsp vegetable broth
- 0.25 lemon zest
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
- 125 g (4.5 oz) vegan bacon or smoked tofu in cubes
- 100 g (4 oz) vegan shredded cheese
- 100 g (4 oz) vegan crackers (e.g. bean crackers Sea Salt & Vinegar or Spicy Seeds from Sommer)
- vegan butter for frying and greasing
- fresh parsley for serving
- Preheat oven to 180 °C / 355 °F (convection heat). Wash the potatoes and slice into approx. 2 mm thick slices. Finely dice the onion and press the garlic through a garlic press or finely dice it as well.
Tipp: If the thickness of the potato slices differs significantly from 2 mm, you will have to adjust the baking time accordingly.
Blend silken tofu, plant-based heavy cream, nutmeg, thyme, rosemary, vegetable broth, lemon zest and nutritional yeast in a blender or with an immersion blender to make a creamy sauce.
Sauté vegan bacon, onion and garlic with a bit of vegan butter over medium heat for approx. 5 minutes until onion cubes are translucent. Deglaze with silken tofu sauce and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for another 3–4 minutes and then remove the sauce from the heat.
Grease a baking dish (22 cm x 28 cm) / (8.6 x 11 inches) with vegan butter – alternate layers of potatoes and sauce, evenly distributing the vegan bacon cubes. Place the bean crackers in a bag and coarsely crush with a rolling pin. Then spread the crackers evenly over the gratin and top with vegan cheese.
Bake the gratin for 20–25 minutes at 180 °C / 355 °F (convection heat) until the potatoes are cooked. If the casserole browns too quickly, cover with some aluminum foil halfway through. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve.