Monday, January 30, 2012

Basic Cream Sauce (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Soy-Free, Nut-Free)

Raise your hand if you miss mac and cheese! How about creamy fettuccine sauce? Enchiladas with cream sauce? Is your hand raised? Mine is! I'm also getting really hungry...

Not that I don't love you all, but I might have to cut this post short so I can go make dinner. I'm thinking shrimp, smothered in basil cream sauce, and served over a bed of garlic sautéed greens. Who wants to join me for dinner?

It's pretty simple. All you have to do is dice a sweet potato, a rutabaga (yes seriously, a rutabaga), and a leek, throw 'em all in a casserole dish, and pour full-fat canned coconut milk over it all. Bake for an hour at 350 degrees F and you're practically there. You can spend that hour making the rest of your meal, enjoying a glass of wine, or dancing with your sweetheart. Or perhaps watching an episode of Downton Abbey, this newfangled British show I hear is all the rage? (I watched the first episode this week and I have to admit it is thoroughly entertaining. I fear I'm hooked.)

Once your hour is up, throw (or gently place) everything in the blender, puree until smooth, and you're golden. A thick, creamy sauce that literally melts on your tongue. Eat it as is or dress it up and turn it something worthy of a fancy title. Pesto cream sauce. Cilantro avocado cream sauce. Roasted red pepper cream sauce. I could go on... But I won't. Because I have shrimp to cook, and you have cream sauce to make. Seriously. This is amazing! Even if you can eat cheese, you'll still want to make this!

Basic Cream Sauce (Gluten/Dairy/Egg/Soy/Nut-Free) (Print-Friendly Option)

Enjoy this rich sauce over your pasta, drizzle it on your enchiladas, or use it as a cheese substitute for lasagna. Alternatively, you can serve it chilled as a dip and enjoy it with veggies or chips. Or if you're like me and you just need a quick pick-me-up, grab a spoon and have a couple of bites on their own. It's seriously that good.

1 large rutabaga, peeled and diced (about 2 cups diced)
1 large sweet potato, diced (about 3 cups diced) - I use the lighter sweet potatoes; the darker ones will taste just as good, but give you a deeper color to your sauce
1 leek, the white part sliced thin (save the dark green part for another day)
1 13.5 ounce can full-fat canned coconut milk
(Optional) Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
(Optional) Fresh basil or parsley, minced

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 
  2. Place diced rutabaga, sweet potato, and leek in a casserole dish (this fits perfectly in my 8 x 11 inch dish). Pour coconut milk over the top and stir to coat evenly. 
  3. Bake for an hour, taking the dish out briefly after 30 minutes just to stir the ingredients for even baking. 
  4. Take dish out of the oven and puree the ingredients in a blender until creamy. I prefer my sauce thick, but you can add extra coconut milk or other milk to thin the sauce out if preferred. Taste and add salt and pepper if desired (I found it was just as good without salt as with). Garnish with minced fresh basil or parsley. Serve hot, use as a base for casserole dishes, or serve chilled with chips and vegetables.
Mushroom cream sauce: Sauté mushrooms and add them to the sauce after pureeing.
Roasted red pepper cream sauce: Puree roasted red peppers along with everything else.
Pesto cream sauce: Stir in some pesto after pureeing.
Italian cream sauce: Add in sundried tomatoes when pureeing, then stir in diced artichoke hearts.
Cilantro avocado cream sauce: Puree 1/4 avocado and a handful of fresh cilantro with everything else.
Enchilada cream sauce: Add in chopped green chiles, green onions, and fresh cilantro. 

Yield: Approximately 3 cups

This recipe is linked to Go Ahead Honey, It's Gluten-Free. The theme this month is Foods that Heal, hosted by Maggie of She Let Them Eat Cake. 

A little about the health benefits of this cream sauce:

Coconut milk: 
  • High in potassium
  • Good source of medium chain triglycerides, which are burned rapidly in the body, making it a good fat option for those watching their weight
  • BUT, when buying canned coconut milk, there are some disadvantages to take into account, and this article outlines them well. I personally like to buy Native Forest coconut milk, which is an organic brand that I trust.
  • High in vitamin C
  • Good source of fiber
Sweet Potatoes:
  • Good source of beta-carotene, which is absorbed well by the body when combined with fats (coconut milk) in your meal
  • High antioxidant status may reduce the risk of damage due to heavy metals and other toxins in the body (this is great for those of us with digestive problems!)
  • High in vitamin C, manganese, vitamin B6, and fiber
  • High in vitamin K, vitamin A, manganese, vitamin C, and folate
  • High concentration of antioxidant polyphenols helps blood vessels from oxidative damage
And most importantly, these ingredients work well for a lot of people with food sensitivities, making it a great addition to any dinner table!


gfe--gluten free easily said...

Oh my goodness, you have just caused a run on rutabagas in every store in the country, Iris! Seriously. This sauce is brilliant. Can't wait to try it. And I confess that while I've eaten rutabagas before, I've never bought and cooked my own. Wow. Terrific creation, my dear! Will share for sure. :-)


GF Gidget said...

Now that is super smart! All the dairy free cream sauces I have seen, so far, contain cashews. As luck would have it, I'm allergic to cashews. Super excited about this recipe. Thanks!

CassidyS said...

This looks amazing! I just printed it off so I can make it this week. Now I just to have to find out what a rudabaga is... something I'm sure I should already know :)Thanks!

The Gluten-free 'Dish' said...

(hand raised and waving!) I would love to come eat with you, Iris. What a fantastic way to make cream sauce! Rutabagas - what a surprise and I love that it bakes in the oven while you dance. xo Debbie

Danielle said...

Wow What a great idea! I have done something with white beans, but I LOVE the idea of root veggies. Genious! I can't wait to try this.

Kim and Megan said...

This is genius, Iris! Thank you so much for dreaming this up. Now...what to make first?

Heidi Kelly said...

Smart, absolutely smart Iris! Now let me ask you, do the flavors of the rutabaga and sweet potato some through in the basic cream sauce?

Iris said...

Thanks y'all! Heidi, yes, the sweet potato gives the sauce a mild sweetness, while the rutabaga gives it a hint of tanginess (much like mustard does in many sauces). The flavor of the leeks is super mild but gives it a little of that oniony flavor that's nice in cream sauce.

Jennifer said...

Wow, this is really intriguing...question: does it taste at all coconutty?

Iris said...

Jennifer, it doesn't taste coconuty to me, but I might not be the best judge considering how much coconut I eat.

Melaina said...

This looks PHENOMENAL!!!! I have had luck with creating a dairy free mac n cheese sauce once before but this looks so much more divine! I'm heading to the store tonight to buy these veggies and I'll be eating everything topped with this "cheesy" sauce for days!

Quick question... how do you think this would do if I freeze half for use later on??

Sunita said...

By golly, Iris, I've got a rutabaga and a white sweet potato as we speak! I love the innovation in this recipe. Truly genius and thinking outside the box. Watch out for Downton Abbey, though... it's addictive and exciting. It really taxes your adrenals! ;)

laurelvb said...

I've got to start a shopping list. What am I going to DO if we can't find organic rutabagas and leeks? Have them shipped in from the Pacific Northwest? I want this. I'm hungry. Come cook for me?

Iris said...

Hope you enjoy it, Melaina! I think freezing it would work fine! I would do it myself but I always end up eating it all first.

Knitting Eema said...

This sounds amazing. Maybe I can even get my kids to try it. I bought rutabagas and leeks today. What do you think about using butternut squash instead of sweet potato? I will make it with the potato, but we love love love roasted butternut squash. Hmmmmmmm.... Thanks!

Iris said...

I think butternut squash would be delicious! Go for it!

Laura said...

Brilliant Iris! This is my kind of "Cream" sauce for sure!

Jenn said...

I don't even need to be dairy free and think I will make this, the flavor combination sounds fantastic! Love all of your suggested variations too!!

Nancy B. said...

I made a batch last night. It was very good. I could taste the rutabaga, yam, leek, and coconut individually, but they all tasted good. It doesn't taste like white sauce or cheese sauce, but the texture is the same, and that's a lot of the answer. I ate some by itself, some with rice pasta, and some with frozen (microwaved) broccoli and cauliflower.

chevygirl317 said...

I can't have coconut milk.. Would rice milk work?

Iris said...

Chevygirl317 - Canned coconut milk is a lot like heavy cream. So rice milk wouldn't work. You'd need another milk substitute that's thick or perhaps you could try one thickened with a little starch.

Alysa Maxwell said...

I accidentally put the dark green in with the rest of the dish! But we like onion flavored things in this house! Wish us luck!

I cannot have dairy and my husband LOVES cheese so I'm trying to find healthy alternatives. I will post again when I get a response from him! I am positive I will love it!


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