This week the Bitchin’ Kitchen Supperclub Challenge was an old family recipe of Nadia G’s – a potato cake filled with sausage, eggs and 3 kinds of cheese. Making the recipe vegan didn’t seem like a great challenge. Making it healthier – now that was the challenge!
Potatoes are potatoes so no substitutions needed there. Instead of eggs, I added coconut creamer to the potatoes to make them smooth and creamy. I bought a few different vegan cheeses and ended up using Daiya Pepperjack shreds in the potatoes and Vegan Gourmet Monterey Jack slices for the inside layer. I’ve noticed that if I mix flavors of Daiya, I don’t taste each one so there was no point in using more than one flavor.
The sausage was the trickier ingredient. It needed to be the kind of sausage that can be removed from the casing and broken up. Most Italian vegan sausages aren’t like that. Soy chorizo would have worked but there was none at my store. I debated buying Gimme Lean, which I always loved, but then my dish would not be gluten-free. Making my own sausage was also a possibility but I didn’t feel like doing all that work. Then I had a brainstorm: I had Sunshine Sausage Patties in the freezer. The only problem is that they don’t have a real sausage flavor so I had to add the spices you find in Italian sausage: fennel, red chile flakes and oregano. Once I added those spices and some gluten-free vegan Worcestershire sauce and Liquid Smoke, the patties tasted just like Italian sausage.
But as I was preparing the dish, something was missing. Something green. I knew I had to make this healthier than just a cheese and potato dish. So I added 2 boxes of chopped spinach to the middle layer. That was not only a healthy addition but a delicious one.
The Sartu was creamy and decadent. The creamy potatoes mixed with spicy Italian sausage crumbles and cheese, the green verdant spinach in the middle, the gooey layer of Monterey Jack cheese and the crispy browned topping. It was indulgent and amazing. My first thought was that it would make a wonderful dish for the holidays – something fancier than a bowl of plain mashed potatoes. Not to mention, as a holiday dish, it would be shared by lots of people so you wouldn’t have to worry about eating the whole thing – ’cause you’re gonna want to 🙂
Sartu di Patate
8 large russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
¼ cup vegan coconut or soy creamer
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 vegan spicy sausages (the kind that can come out of the casing) or 4 vegan sausage patties
1 tsp. fennel seeds
¼ tsp. red chile flakes
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 Tbs. vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. Liquid Smoke
½ cup grated vegan Pepperjack cheese shreds
¼ cup minced fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
2-10 oz. packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
A pinch of nutmeg
6 oz. vegan Monterey jack cheese, sliced thinly
3 Tbs. vegan butter
3 Tbs. breadcrumbs (I used gluten-free rice cereal)
Cook the potatoes in a large pot of salted boiling water until fork-tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and let cool. Transfer to a large bowl. Mash the potatoes until smooth. Add the creamer to make them smoother.
In a skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Break up the sausage into small pieces. If you want more of an Italian sausage flavor, add the fennel, chile flakes and oregano. Add the Worcestershire sauce and Liquid Smoke to the sausage and cook until browned and crispy. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In the bowl with the potatoes, add the Pepperjack cheese, the parsley, salt and pepper and the sausage crumbles. Mix until all the ingredients are well incorporated.
Grease a large baking dish with 1 Tbs. of the vegan butter. Add half the potato mixture in an even layer. Then add the spinach and spread it out over the potatoes. Add a pinch of nutmeg to the spinach. Add a layer of the Monterey Jack cheese. Lastly, add the remaining potato mixture and spread it out evenly.
Add small pats of the remaining 2 Tbs. of butter to the top. Spread the pats out since vegan butter melts differently and you’ll end up with polka dots like mine. Sprinkle the top with the breadcrumbs. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the crust is golden brown. Enjoy!
The “V” Word: Say it. Eat it. Live it.