Chunks of potatoes are baked up in an ooey, gooey, cheesy dairy-free sauce and sprinkled with crispy homemade corn flake topping to make this comforting and totally vegan casserole.
Who else grew up eating cheesy corn flake potatoes on the 4th of July? I thought it was just a my family thing and not so much an all of America thing, until I started Googling recipes for the dish and discovered that they're all over the place. I also discovered that they're often lovingly referred to as heart attack potatoes. Sweet.
I don't think my version will give you a heart attack, but it is indulgent for a vegan dish. Potatoes in potato sauce. That's carby! Plus there's some vegan butter in the corn flake topping. I figure it this way though: it's a side dish, it's for holidays, and it's certainly a far cry from the sour cream, cheddar cheese, butter and cream of chicken soup that all go into the original version of the dish.
It's also a bit more work than the original, as lots of veganized cheesy dishes are. But I promise it's worth it.
So, about the potato sauce thing: that's the cheese. Guys, I'm really feeling the cheeze these days, and I think every cheesy vegan recipe just gets better. I started with my vegan jalapeño popper mac, evolved the cheese into this cauliflower queso, and then tried using potatoes in this recipe. I wasn't sure what would happen to the cauliflower puree when baked, and I thought potatoes might be a better bet. Plus, you're already chopping up some potatoes for the casserole anyway.
The corn flakes are homemade. I'm not sure if store bought corn flakes are generally vegan, because they're just not something I buy, so I went and adapted this recipe to make my own. If you have some vegan store-bought corn flakes that you like, go ahead and use them. The homemade ones are made from just four ingredients and really easy though. They're a bit heartier than regular old corn flakes, but the flavor is definitely there, and they do the job beautifully as a topper for this cheesy casserole.
Cheesy Vegan Corn Flake Potato Casserole
For the Corn Flake Topping
- 1 ⅕ cups cornmeal
- 1 tablespoon vegan granulated sugar, I used coconut
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cups water
- ¼ cup vegan butter, melted
For the Sauce
- 1 medium, 10 ounce Russet potato, peeled and chopped
- 1 medium carrot, chopped
- 1 ½ cups unflavored soy or almond milk
- 1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water 4-8 hours and drained
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast flakes
- ¼ cup vinegar-based hot sauce, I used Cholula
- 3 tablespoons white miso paste
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 garlic clove
- ½ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
For the Casserole
- 2 pounds about 3 medium Russet potatoes, peeled and finely diced (½ inch or smaller)
- 1 medium onion, diced
Preheat the oven to 350° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Begin making the corn flake topping by stirring the cornmeal, sugar, and salt together in a small bowl. Pour in the water and stir to form a wet paste. Spread the mixture in a thin square, about 14 x 14 inches, on the parchment linked baking sheet. Place it into the oven and bake for about 15 minutes, until it begins to crack and brown around the edges. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
While the corn flake topping bakes, make the sauce. Place the potato and carrot into a medium saucepan and cover with water. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Cook until very tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and drain into a colander. Transfer the potato and carrot to a blender or food processor and add all other sauce ingredients. Blend until smooth, stopping to scrape down the insides of the bowl or pitcher as needed. Taste test and adjust the salt or any other seasonings to your liking.
To make the casserole, place the potatoes, onion, and sauce into a large mixing bowl and stir until fully incorporated. Transfer the mixture to a 9 x 9 inch square baking pan.
Break the corn flake mixture into corn flake-sized pieces and place them into a medium bowl. Add the melted vegan butter and toss to coat. Arrange the corn flakes in an even layer on top of the casserole.
Bake until the corn flakes are lightly browned and the potatoes are tender, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.
Cornflake topping adapted from Always Order Dessert.