Beets with Cashew-Salsify Puree, Apple, Walnut and Kale Chips

If you open a cookbook about classic french cooking you will find recipes for several sauces. Except for vinaigrettes, almost all sauces contain either milk, eggs or animal bones. So while I was exploring vegan cooking, my idea was to figure out whether it is possible to create a rich brown sauce by using vegetables only. My result was more than satisfactory. I didn’t taste the same as sauces prepared with animal parts, but this rich vegan brown sauce works great for coating or glazing baked or roasted vegetables.

Beets with Cashew-Salsify Puree, Apple, Walnut and Kale Chips

I cooked my base stock for the sauce as usual but this time I skipped the bones and meat. Cooking the stock overnight is my preferred method, because this way I save a lot of time and during the night the vegetables caramelize completely. This also helps to develop a deep brown color, which is further enhanced by reducing the stock until syrupy. Because the stock is radically reduced, not only the pleasant flavors are intensified. So if you plan to prepare a vegan brown sauce, you should roast your vegetables carefully, because any burnt parts may turn your sauce bitter.

Another pleasant discovery I made in this dish was the salsify baked in its skin. Usually, peeling and cooking salsify is a very sticky task due to the glue-like white fluid of raw salsify. Adding some milk to the cooking liquid helps to keep the kitchenware less sticky, but because I planned to prepare a vegan meal, I had to skip the milk. My idea was to wrap the salsify in aluminium foil and bake it in the oven. I had no concerns about overcooking the salsify, because I intended to use it as a puree. After baking, the salsify was not only easy to peel and not sticky at all, but it also developed a marvelous slightly nutty flavor which I haven’t experienced before with other preparations.

I garnished the dish with some classic pairings of red beets such as tart apple cubes and roasted walnuts. I adapted the idea of the kale chips from my previous discovery when I baked marinated kale along with a whole char and sweet potatoes. Since then, Ideas in Food came across the same idea of kale chips too. Similarly as in my previous kale chip recipe, I further enhanced the nori-like taste by marinating the blanched leaves with some soy sauce. It also served as a kind of spicy element on the plate.