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My love for food and cooking started at a young age. When I was in the third grade I earned enough “writing” points from Scholastic to order a free book. I chose a cook book.
In Junior High School my parents started a monthly neighborhood get together that featured dinner cuisine from countries other than the one where they lived – The United States of America. As kids we expressed no interest in this. Thankfully, these gatherings were for adults only because what kid wants to eat bratwurst with sauerkraut?  Secretly, I thought it was an exciting idea and always looked forward to learning about what country would be chosen next.

You may be wondering what all of that has to do with a potato dish. I love learning about the origins of, and have great respect for, the dishes I cook and a potato casserole is no different.

There is debate about exactly where, and from which chef, this potato dish originated. The consensus is that they were invented at a Delmonico’s restaurant in New York.
The original Delmonico’s was founded in 1824 and opened in 1827 by brothers John and Peter Delmonico. The brothers were Italian speaking immigrants from Switzerland and their restaurant changed the American dining experience in several ways, one of which was by featuring “haute cuisine”.
There were other transformations the brothers made that significantly changed the restaurant industry in America and I encourage you to read about those and Delmonico’s rich history here.

Most Delmonico potato recipes feature both a similar ingredient and a cooking process: boiling and then baking potatoes with some form or forms of dairy (cream, cheese, milk, butter), onions, garlic and spices (nutmeg).

Being a whole food, plant-based kind of chick, I replaced the dairy with a vegan cream sauce and added vegetables to provide more nutrition. The vegetables I had used were roasted red pepper and broccoli. In the future, I plan to experiment with artichokes, mushrooms and green peas.

The type of potato used is an important factor.  It is best to choose the type that has low starch. These potatoes take a little longer to cook than those with higher starch content, but they are better able to maintain their shape. On different occasions I have used either yellow or white. You can click here for a guide on these starchy spuds.

Some recipes call for a bread crumb topping. Others add cheese.
I’m sure it comes as no surprise to some of you that I went rogue and did my own thing.
I twisted the original Delmonico’s recipe a bit. I cubed potatoes for the main portion of the dish and grated 2 ½ lbs. of potatoes for the topping. See directions below on how I prepared and cooked this topping.

dscf6477Grated potato topping

Another topping I created, and the one I liked more, was a caramelized onion spread. You can make this topping in advance and set it aside until ready for use. See directions below.

onion2Caramelized onion topping

Serves 6-10

1/2 cup whole raw cashews, soaked overnight
1 c nutritional yeast
1 c almond milk

Main portion:
2 roasted red peppers, cut
4 shallots, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 1/2 lbs potatoes, cubed
1 small head broccoli, cut into similar size as potatoes
1 c vegetable broth
2 tsp pink Himalayan salt or sea salt
1 tsp cracked pepper
2 tsp juice from lemon
1 tsp lemon zest

Grated Potatoes:

5-6 potatoes, grated
1 shallot, diced
1 tsp coconut oil
Caramelized onion:
5-6 yellow onions, sliced
1 tsp coconut oil

Roast red peppers in 500° oven until charred, about 20-60 minutes. Place in covered bowl until cooled. Skin and dice into bite size pieces. Set aside.

In a high-speed blender, combine all cream ingredients and blend until smooth.
Set aside.

Heat skillet on high. Add onions and garlic, reduce heat to medium and cook until translucent about  3-5 minutes.
Add potatoes. Thoroughly mix with onions and garlic. Cook about 5 minutes.
Add cream mixture, broccoli, broth, salt and pepper. Cook until potatoes begin to soften, about 10 -15 minutes.
Remove from heat. Stir in roasted red pepper, lemon juice and zest.
Pour contents into casserole dish.

Heat oven to 450°.  Bake for 20 minutes.
Remove from oven and add topping. Cook for an additional 20 minutes or until topping is browned to your liking.

Grated potato topping:
Grate 2/12 lbs. of potatoes. Squeeze water from grated potatoes using a towel or milk bag.
Heat large skillet on high. Add coconut oil.
Add potatoes and onions and reduce heat to medium.
Cook until onions become tender, 3-5 minutes.

Caramelized topping:
Cut onions in half and slice.
Heat large skillet on high. Add coconut oil.
Add onions and reduce heat to low.
Cook until onions caramelize, about an hour.

Do you have a favorite potato dish?   Please share or leave a comment…