SEAFOOD CASSEROLE (DAIRY FREE, GLUTEN FREE)

When I met Brad I wasn’t a plant-based eater. I didn’t monitor anything beyond calories, something I no longer watch at all due to my recovery with my eating disorder. I grew up with a family who spent a great deal of time in the South, as many of my relatives lived there, and my dad spent the vast majority of his youth. That being said, seafood is one of my favorite things, to this day! I know, I know, as someone who really doesn’t eat any animal products, you might ask why I eat seafood at all? Well, the short answer is 1)I’m not an ethical vegan (though is that really a fair term?), and further I simply don’t have the affinity and heart for the fish and some of the sea animals like I do the land ones & 2) I chose this lifestyle as a middle ground for controlling health issues that arose form my eating disorder. While it’s true that the ethics and the impact on the earth and the responsibility to other living creatures DO all come into play, they simply aren’t a 100% deciding factor for me. Therefore, I do eat some seafood from time to time, but keep it limited.

 

This recipe fulfills every need for emotional eating (which isn’t necessarily a good thing), easy to make, and something the whole family enjoys. It was introduced to me by my husband’s family, who had a long-used recipe which called for real mayonnaise, creamed soups, and sharp cheddar cheese. Wowza that’s some unhealthy items! I’ve recreated it to taste nearly identical to the original, but to be gluten and dairy free as between my husband and I it is required. 

 

Ingredients:

-1 16oz package of imitation crab meat (I know classy, but it’s affordable and easy)
-1 8 oz can of sliced water chestnuts
-4 green onions, cut into slivers (like you would for toppings)
-1 package of Daiya Cheddar shreds (this is totally optional, but we like it)
-1 8oz package of baby bella mushrooms (or other tender mushroom of choice), diced
-1 small-medium yellow sweet onion, diced
-1 clove of minced garlic
-1 package of gluten free croutons (I used some frozen ones I picked up at Whole Foods, but if you don’t have a gluten sensitivity, then just a regular size package of the garlic or seasoned ones from the store works as well)
-1 C Almond Milk
-1/3 C cooking Sherry
-1 C vegan mayo 
-1 Tbsp Olive Oil (I use EVOO)
-1/2 – 3/4 C raw unsalted cashews, soaked
-1 Tbsp vegan Worcestershire Sauce
-salt and pepper to taste
-I also sometimes add additional onion or garlic powder to taste. Since everything is already cooked going in this recipe, you can taste test the flavor before baking. 
 
*NOTE(s): You can use real crabmeat if you prefer, but I like the imitation in this recipe. You could also use or add other seafood if you want a mix.
 
For the Vegan mayo, you could substitute some other creamy option (tofu blended with some lemon juice possibly?) but I prefer the mayo because it has a very specific flavor. Real Mayo works as well, since that is what the original recipe used, so if you eat animal products you can use it, but please don’t because of the baby chics that are harmed to make it. 🙁
 

Directions:

             

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F).

  1.  To make the substitute ‘cream of mushroom’, put the olive oil in a large skillet along with the onion, mushrooms, and garlic over medium-high heat. Once it gets relatively sizzling, turn down to medium and continue to cook until mushrooms are completely soft, onion is nicely caramelized, and garlic is very fragrant and sweet smelling.
  2.  Using a Vitamix, put soaked cashews, Worcestershire, cooked mushroom mix, and about 1/4 cup of almond milk into Vitamix and pulse to start to move the ingredients down and together. Once you have it up to full speed, open the top of the blender and slowly add additional almond milk until you’ve added around 2 C. You can eyeball this to the amount you feel will provide you with a slightly thinner than normal ‘cream of mushroom’ consistency. 
  3.  In a large bowl, break apart imitation crab, add croutons, and all remaining ingredients (except cheese) as well as the mushroom ‘soup’ and stir until well incorporated. I like to sprinkle in about half the cheese and mix it in as well, but that is your choice.
  4.  Taste test the sauce part here to see if you have a slightly sweet (with a somewhat rich mayo tasting) sauce. Add any additional spices, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt and pepper at this time and give a final mix.
  5.  Pour into an ungreased 9×13 casserole dish and sprinkle with remaining cheese (or however much you like).
  6.  Bake uncovered for about 1 hour at 350.