Zucchini & Potato Gratin with Cashew Cream

One of the challenges of turning a dish healthy is how to replace dairy. I'm always looking to replace saturated fats with something that still tastes rich and creamy. Behold cashew cream! This magical trick takes raw cashews and turns them into a cream that will enhance almost any dish, sweet or savory.

The key to making good cashew cream is to soak the cashews thoroughly beforehand; this will make for easy blending. It’s also essential to use raw cashews, as roasted ones won’t boast the same neutral flavor or blend up as well. Depending on how much water you add, it can be quite thick — like the texture of ricotta — or thin enough to resemble heavy cream. It demands very little effort — all you need is a food processor or a high-speed blender — and it’s incredibly versatile. Add a little maple syrup, and it becomes a sweet dessert cream. Add some miso or salt and a touch of lemon, and the cream (or crème, if you want to be fancy) turns savory. Mix in lemon juice, some sea salt, and a little Dijon mustard and you've got a vegan alfredo. Add some cocoa powder and vanilla, and you've made a vegan ganache. Your cream will last at least four days in the fridge, and can be frozen as well. Curious about what to do with cashew cream, other than simply eating it with a spoon? Here are a few of my favorite applications:

Zucchini & Potato Gratin with Cashew Cream

Serves six

INGREDIENTS 2 medium yellow squash, about 1/2 pound 4 small to medium red potatoes, about 1 pound 3 tablespoons olive oil 1/2 cup of cashew cream Salt and freshly ground black pepper 1/4 cup coconut milk 1 tablespoon thinly sliced basil, thyme leaves

1/2 Tbs of rosemary

Cashew Cream

1 cup raw cashews

½ cup water

Juice of 1 lemon

Splash of Apple Cider Vinegar

1/2 tsp sea salt

DIRECTIONS

To begin, soak your cashews in a bowl of water in the fridge overnight, then drain and rinse. To make your cashew cream, place all ingredients in a blender and blend at high-speed until smooth and creamy.  Your cashew cream can be stored in the fridge for up to four days.

To make your gratin, Preheat oven to 400°F.

Lightly grease a casserole dish with a drizzle of olive oil.

Next, use a mandoline (or a sharp knife) to slice the squash and potatoes into very, very thin slices, 1/8-inch or less.

Toss the sliced vegetables with the 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large bowl, add the chopped rosemary.

Now you are going to build your gratin by layering the squash, potatoes and cashew cream in your dish. Place 1/3 of the squash and potato slices in the bottom of the dish — no need to layer them, just spread evenly — then season with salt and pepper. Top that layer with half of your cashew cream. Repeat with another 1/3 of the vegetables, seasoning again with salt and pepper and topping with the other 1/2 of the cashew cream. Finish by layering on the final 1/3 of the vegetables and seasoning with salt and pepper. Pour the coconut milk over the entire dish.

Bake, covered, for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake 15 more minutes, until the top browns.

Scatter on the fresh basil or thyme before serving.

Serve with a big green salad!