Everyone has a preference when it comes to food. Whether that preference is based on a chosen special diet, an allergy or purely your mood at that moment, it’s still a preference.
When I first started Inspiralized and my sister would make my recipes, she’d always send a picture of her dish next to her boyfriend’s (who she lives with). He wouldn’t eat the zucchini noodles, but she would. She wanted the lower calories, carbs and the ability to eat a big portion without negating that day’s workout.
I love that most about my recipes – they are so easy and quick that you can make two different versions at the same time!
Growing up, I remember my mother saying, “you either eat it or you don’t.” She wasn’t into making five versions of the same plate. However, later in life, when I became vegan and my sister became a pescatarian, she had to make some concessions. Sorry, ma.
Now, I know that a lot of you are Paleo and prefer dairy-free recipes. However, I know a lot of you are gluten-free and not necessarily Paleo. Like my little sister and her two versions of the same dinner, I’m showing you how to make one recipe two diferent ways: one that’s Paleo and one that’s, well, not.
I posted up the half and half pre-oven shot on Instagram and I’ve got to say, I was surprised at how many of you preferred the mozzarella version. Warms my heart. I love mozz! I can’t wait until it’s socially acceptable to start eating caprese salads again – little drizzle of olive oil, balsamic and salt and pepper.
This casserole is not only vegan and non-vegan friendly all at once, it’s really easy to make and stores well for leftovers. Lu and I threw some cooked chicken on top and had it for dinner the night I made this.
The casserole by itself is a filling and surprising meal. Surprising? Yes! You won’t believe it’s not real rice! The sweet potato rice cooks to a perfect consistency in the 40 minutes in the oven and the savory flavors from the mozzarella and pesto pair well with the sweetness that comes from the potato when roasting.
The broccoli gives the casserole substance and the pesto adheres and soaks into the florets for a big “bang for your buck” bite.
I made it in a foil casserole dish because frankly, I was tired of doing the dishes. My hands are prematurely aging from all of the rough scrubbing! And heck, I’m saving water.
First, spread some of the vegan pesto on the bottom of the casserole. Second, spread out a layer of the sweet potato rice.
Third, spread out the pesto-covered broccoli over the rice. Fourth, spread out a layer of the sweet potato rice, covering the broccoli mostly. Then, pour in the vegetable broth.
Fifth, sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top (or not). Finally, bake it in the oven for 40 minutes, covered with tinfoil.
How easy is that? Either eat it right away or put it in the fridge for later!
- For the pesto:
- 2.5 cups basil leaves, packed
- 3 tbsp of pine nuts
- 1/4 cup of olive oil (if you like it thicker, less olive oil)
- 5 cranks of the sea salt grinder
- 5 cranks of the peppercorn grinder
- 1 large clove of garlic minced
- For the rest:
- 2 cups small broccoli florets
- 1 large sweet potato (350g), peeled, Blade C
- pepper, to taste
- 1/3 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1.5 cups shredded mozzarella (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Place all of the ingredients for the pesto into a food processor and pulse until smooth. Taste and just, if necessary. Pour half of the pesto out into a bowl and add in the broccoli. Toss until broccoli is coated with the pesto. Set the broccoli and remaining pesto aside.
- In the bottom of the casserole, spread out a thin layer of pesto. Then, spread out a layer of the sweet potato rice. Then, add the broccoli. Then, add the rest of the rice to cover the broccoli. Drizzle the remaining pesto over the rice. Then, pour over the vegetable broth. Season with pepper. If using mozzarella, spread over in an even layer over the rice to cover.
- Cover the casserole with tinfoil and bake for 40 minutes.