Monday, October 15, 2012

VeganMoFo Day 15 - Minnesota Hot Dish

Casserole weather is here! When the leaves start turning it's time to relight the oven in the un-air-conditioned kitchen, and the second most-requested casserole to toss in that hot oven is Jan Tz's classic Minnesota Hot Dish. The most requested is Isa's Chickpea Broccoli Casserole, McDougallized, of course, by omitting the oil and breadcrumbs and dumping the other ingredients together with a bag of hash browns, like this recipe. 

Jan first posted this recipe way back in October 2003 in the original McDougall forums at VegSource. That particular forum was replaced by the Fat Free forum for a while and eventually disappeared completely from any menu, but the old messages are still there in hiding, just like those of the McDougall forum. You can find a lot of Jan's original recipes over there - she only reposted a handful to the "new" (6 years old) official McDougall forums.

Subject: Recipe: Minnesota Hot Dish
Date: October 21, 2003 at 4:36 pm PST

From the Land of 10,000 Lakes (and 100,000 swamps), where the mosquito vies with the loon for State Bird, I bring you...

Minnesota Hot Dish, that staple of church socials and funerals everywhere:

2 Boca Burgers, original vegan
2 good-sized potatoes, peeled and sliced
handful of chopped onion
1 can (about 1.5 cups) condensed vegetable soup (I used Vegetarian Vegetable) or any vegetable soup/broth

Preheat oven to 375 F. Lightly grease or spray a small casserole dish.
Nuke the Bocas with the onion for a couple of minutes, until they are mostly cooked. Put the potato slices in the bottom of your casserole. Put the burger/onions on top. Then pour the soup over all. This is not a particularly "liquid-y" dish. Cover and bake for 45 min. Uncover and bake another 15 minutes.

This dish is really really filling and meaty. Very much comfort food for me in East Central MN. 
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
This recipe was written back when Dr. McDougall still allowed things like Boca Burgers and Gimmelean meat substitutes. Many of us old-timers had packages of burgers and chubs of both "beef" and "sausage" Gimmelean in our freezers and used them in a few different meals each week. I still keep some Gimmelean and Lightlife Smart Ground in the freezer and when I see they've been in there for around 6 months, defrost a pack and use it in one of the old tried-and-true recipes. I was never a fan of Boca Burgers, especially when they stay in the freezers of our local grocery stores so long they're freezer-burnt before I even purchase them.

Instead of a few whole potatoes I used a bag of frozen Southern-style (diced) hash brown potatoes.

Campbell's Vegetarian Vegetable soup is the soup of choice for this recipe, and just last week I grabbed some at Walmart at the price of 3/$1. I used 2 cans and swished about half a can back and forth between them to rinse out all the little bits of soup, alphabet pasta and veggies that stayed behind when I poured the soup out. They're a bit higher in sodium than Jeff Novick allows, but there's such a small amount in each serving, I can live with it and just drink extra water the next day.

A few shakes of Frontier brand dried onion pieces finished off the ingredients. I always buy these in bulk bags from the company so they're always on hand, even when my newly bought fresh onions magically turned moldy on the trip home from the grocery store.

I use my largest Pyrex mixing/casserole bowl, stir everything up until it's well mixed, then cover with parchment then foil and pop it all into the oven. Jan says her isn't a particularly "liquid-y" dish, but with the bit of added water and the good mixing, all the stuff gets nicely distributed and nothing is dry. There's just no watery sauce or gravy so no need for bread for sopping any excess up. 

Because of the soup and the crumbles, this isn't a meal I make on a steady basis any more. In fact, this one is the first I'm making in over a year. It's a surprise for my husband, who had complained about all the very veggie meals I'd been making lately. Because this is the mid-point in VeganMoFo with a lot more very veggie SNAP meals to come, I figured he needed a good dose of starchiness and salt, real comfort food, for me to get back in his good graces.

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