My good friend Jamie and I do pot luck dinners at her house for a number of Jewish holidays. Often, we serve meat and do not use dairy at the meal. This restriction is in accordance with the rules of kashrut/keeping kosher. (While I don’t follow those rules, I respect the rules at her home.) This no fuss no dairy potato onion casserole is a great side dish for those meals. It tastes good at any temperature, can be made ahead of time, and is dairy-free. Also, it’s vegan. That matters because we often have vegans at our holiday dinners these days.
Here’s how I got to this dish. My first thought was a kugel, a traditional Ashkenazi Jewish pudding, either sweet or savory, made with eggs. However, both sweet noodle kugel and my favorite savory potato kugel, use dairy, a no-no in this meal. Besides, this potato dish had to taste good warm or room temperature (there might not be space in the oven to heat it up immediately before the meal) and potato kugel is typically best served hot.
Then I went to my Ottolenghi cookbooks. In his first cookbook, eponomously named “Ottolenghi,” I found my inspiration. “Danielle’s Sweet Potato Gratin” looked delicious, but featured heavy cream. So, like my dream potato kugel, it wouldn’t work for this meal. Still, the basic premise – standing thinly sliced potatoes upright in a dish, tightly packed and baked – seemed like a promising start. And it was.
This no fuss potato casserole is a great make-ahead dish for any dinner or even a brunch. It has just 5 ingredients (not counting salt and pepper) and takes little time to prepare. While it cooks, all you have to do is take off the cover and raise the heat toward the end. For the oil, use a variety that has a high smoke point such as grapeseed or safflower, not olive oil.
I mixed sweet and yellow (Yukon Gold) potatoes, which makes for a pretty color contrast, but you could do it with just one or the other. If using just sweet potatoes, find golden ones that retain their shape, rather than the orange-fleshed variety that are great for a traditional mashed sweet potato casserole. I used orange ones and so they did get soft, but when combined with firmer white potatoes, that wasn’t an issue. The thinly sliced onions soften to a velvety texture that melts in your mouth and the just the small amount of fresh rosemary sprinkled throughout scents the entire casserole.
The proportions provided below are for a small batch. For the pot luck dinner, I’ll be tripling or quadrupling the recipe. It’s an easy recipe to customize by size – just make sure that the casserole dish holds the slices tightly upright.
No Fuss No Dairy Potato Onion Casserole
- 8 ounces thinly sliced sweet potatoes preferably golden
- 8 ounces yellow potatoes Yukon Gold or similar
- 4 ounces yellow onion about 1/2 of a medium-large onion
- 2 - 2 1/2 tablespoons high heat oil grapeseed or similar + more for dish
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
- Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Using a mandoline or sharp knife, thinly slice the potatoes and put them in one bowl. Repeat with onion and put those slices in another bowl
Gently toss the potatoes and onions (separately) with the oil.
Place the potatoes in an oiled, oven-safe dish small enough to hold them upright. Add the onions in between some of the slices and on the sides.
Sprinkle generously with salt, pepper, and the chopped rosemary.
Bake covered with aluminum foil for 40 minutes.
Uncover, raise the heat to 425 degrees and bake another 15 minutes.
Serve immediately, cool to room temperature, or refrigerate and bring back to room temperature for serving.
I used a mandoline, but you can slice the potatoes and onions by hand as long as you make slices that are quite thin. Think the type of paper-thin slices that would work well for chips. The casserole should be small with 2-inch sides. My 7-1/2 inch x 5 inch casserole (with 2 inch sides) worked perfectly