I always dream of having a fully functioning vegetable patch full of amazing produce which can be used for fresh salads, veggie bakes, organic juices etc however in reality I have a basil plant and some dying marigolds I planted a few months ago! I know saying I just don’t have the time to garden sounds like a massive cop out but I really just do not have the time! I’ve managed to keep up a routine of watering the pots full of pansies on the patio on a nearly daily basis but the bottom of our garden, the area absolutely perfect for a veggie patch, is now a little wildlife sanctuary (i.e. over grown and untended). I still think one day I will manage it as I believe you make time for the things which really matter to you, but maybe it will be refined to manageable pots dotted around a patio with produce like spring onions and lettuce!
Fortunately I was given some large courgettes from my dads garden last week, along with some rhubarb, so I could still eat some home grown veg without my dream garden existing. I hadn’t got around to using them by the weekend so I decided to make a dish which I could have along side our planned meals using the courgettes as the stars of the show! I had one yellow and one green courgette so they look really pretty together! You can’t get yellow courgettes in the supermarket any where that I have found so I love being able to get them from the veggie patches of friends and family!
I decided on a creamy gratin style dish because I had just discovered this fantastic recipe for a vegan and gluten free “cheese sauce” made with cauliflower and nutritional yeast from Fat Free Vegan Blog. I used one batch to make a pasta bake on friday night and I plan on making another batch to make a lasagna later on too! It really is so delicious and really quick and easy to make! It is made of cauliflower, water, onion powder, garlic, smoked paprika, mustard, turmeric, nutritional yeast, miso, gf flour, lemon and seasoning. I would recommend it as an alternative to any white or cheese sauce 🙂
To make the tart I very simply thinly sliced the different coloured courgettes and layered them with some of my standard flavourings (dried herbs, chilli flakes, salt and pepper), ‘cheese’ sauce and Spinach then topped with some gluten free breadcrumbs for a crispy finish.
The result was a really indulgent looking rich gratin which is completely vegan, gluten free and low fat! I served this along side some salad for a weekday packed lunch and along side a veggie burger and wedges one evening, it would also be nice with sausages!
I added the spinach for some colour contrast and because it is a perfect vegetable to go with the cheese sauce as it’s quite earthy. I left the courgettes and spinach raw when layering up the dish because I am very conscious of not overcooking or messing around with anything too much! They both cooked perfectly without needing to be precooked.
I also left the top layer (before breadcrumbs) as courgette because I think it’s nice to be able to see what the dish has in it from looking at it 🙂
Courgette and Spinach Gratin:
Serves 4-6 as a side dish
Vegan, Gluten and Wheat Free, Low Carb, Low Fat, Seasonal
1 Green Courgette
1 Yellow Courgette
Couple handfuls of Spinach (raw)
Dried Mixed Herbs
Chilli Flakes,Salt and Pepper
1 batch Cheese Cauliflower Sauce (from Fat Free Vegan Blog)
1 Slice of Gluten Free Bread (or handful gluten free pre made breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
Preheat your oven to 180c. Thinly slice the Courgettes, around 5mm thick, arrange a layer of the different coloured courgette slices on the bottom of a pie dish and then sprinkle with dried herbs, chilli flakes and salt and pepper. Cover the layer with the cheese sauce (click above link to see recipe), then place a layer of spinach leaves on top of the sauce and repeat (another layer of courgette, seasoning, cheese sauce and then spinach. In total you will have 2-3 layers of courgette depending on how deep your dish is and how much courgette you have. Finally top the last level of Spinach with a few slices of courgette as decoration and top the whole thing with breadcrumbs.
To make the breadcrumbs I put a slice of toast, chilli flakes and garlic powder into a blender and blitzed to make seasoned breadcrumbs.
Place in the oven for 20-25 minutes until hot through and golden brown on top. Serve hot! It will keep well for a couple of days but I think it is best eaten fresh out the oven.