We all love apple crisp, but this creamy and crispy savory version uses potatoes, carrots, an apple, onions, garlic, and rosemary. There’s a vegan option too!
Apple crisp is a delicious Autumn dessert that causes many a heart to flutter. If I had an event to cater at that time of year, apple crisp was my go-to finish for the meal, and there was rarely any left over.
The part of the dessert everyone wants more of…
I was thinking about the crispy topping on this iconic dish recently; it was the part everyone always wanted more of – “A little more topping please,” and I always thought this was the most coveted use of oatmeal possible.
But rather than just used on fruit desserts, I thought the texture of that crisp might be good in a savory vegetable dish as well, only I would obviously eliminate the sugars. I’m always looking for new side dishes, and something different to do with vegetables, and the idea starting forming.
Potatoes, creamy sauce, cheese, or not!
One of my all-time favorite dishes is potatoes au gratin, with or without the cheese. The creamy sauce and the crispy brown topping are perfect together. I wanted to take the crispy top one step further and make it more of an event, like the topping on an apple crisp. I’ve also put chopped up nuts in the topping, even better!
This is a fun dish to make for Family Dinner, or when you have friends over. It feels special and tastes divine! It’s comfort food, and it is satisfying.
Waxy and starchy
You can use one or more types of potato. Russets will make the sauce the creamiest, but other types will hold their shape better, so a mixture of both is good here.
I think the rosemary is the perfect herb here, but you could swap out another favorite such as chives, or sage, or tarragon.
Dairy-free and gluten-free if you like
So everyone in my family can enjoy this when we’re together, I make it with unsweetened rice milk. My mother would probably have used full-fat evaporated canned milk, which makes a really creamy sauce. She used canned milk in her scalloped potatoes, and that was was of my all-time favorite dishes, especially in the nice weather when there were chives to add!
You can also make this gluten-free as well. Just use an all-purpose GF flour in the roux and you are all set.
I add the apple as a nod to apple crisp, but a sweet potato will add that little bit of sweetness as well. You can also add other favorite vegetables such as cauliflower and broccoli to switch things up, or lower the starch content.
Savory Vegetable Crisp.
Serves 6 to 8 as a side dish
The potato measurements are not exact, in fact, I just peel and cut and keep going until I fill up the dish, stopping just shy of the top. You want to have more potatoes than everything else, at least half potatoes. You can use any combination of colors of potatoes, sweet potatoes or apple, and carrots, but it is fun to mix things up. I prefer this with the apple, but my husband likes it with the sweet potatoes. I wouldn’t use both, or it might be too sweet.
For the vegetables:
1 large carrot
1 small purple carrot
4 or 5 small purple potatoes
1 Russet potato
1 Granny Smith apple, diced, OR, 1 small sweet potato
1 tsp. olive oil
1 large purple or sweet onion
For the cream sauce:
2 cups milk, or unsweetened rice milk
1 tbsp. grainy mustard
Few grates of nutmeg
Few dashes of hot sauce
5 cloves garlic, divided
2 sprigs of rosemary, divided
6 tbsp. butter or vegan butter
6 tbsp. flour
For the topping:
6 tbsp. butter or vegan butter, softened
3/4 cup old fashioned oats
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
Sweet Hungarian paprika
Butter an oval casserole dish and set aside.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Prep all your vegetables. Use a mandoline or sharp knife to slice the potatoes and carrots as evenly as possible. Dice the apple. Slice the onion, and finely mince the rosemary and garlic together. You can use a small food processor for this, or a nice sharp knife.
Heat a large skillet and sauté the onions until they are soft, but not brown. Set aside.
Make the white sauce. In a small saucepan, heat two cups of your milk of choice, the mustard, nutmeg, hot sauce, and 3/4 of the garlic/rosemary combo. Save the rest of this for the topping.
In a second pan, make the roux. Melt the butter and add the flour. You can also use gluten-free flour. Whisk the butter and flour together and cook for a minute or two. Slowly add the the warmed milk mixture, whisking until it is all incorporated. Bring to a simmer, taste and add salt and pepper. Set aside.
Layer half the vegetables in the casserole dish, and add pepper. Scatter the onions evenly on top, then add the rest of the vegetables, and season with a little more salt and pepper.
Add the milk mixture slowly, pressing down the vegetables and moving them a little so there are no air pockets.
Make the crisp topping: In a large bowl, combine the softened butter, the rest of the garlic/rosemary mixture, the oats, the panko, the flour, and yeast. Mix well with a wooden spoon.
Add to top of casserole in clumps as if you were making an apple crisp. Sprinkle with the paprika.
Bake for one hour and ten minutes, turning the pan half-way through to ensure even browning. Test the potatoes by piercing with a sharp knife. There will be bubbling around the edges of the crisp, and the topping will be nicely browned. If the potatoes are not fully cooked, put them back in the oven for another 10 minutes. It will depend on the type of potato you use, and how thick you cut them.
Let it rest for 15 minutes before attempting to eat!
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