We take gravy very seriously in our house; what started as some gentle competition has developed into full on gravy wars over the years with the addition of all sorts of flavour enhancing ingredients. This year I decided to go vegan for Lent and, whilst I haven’t missed meat at all, I have missed gravy.
I love a roast dinner and am just as happy with a plate full of roast vegetables as I am with a Sunday joint but I still want something tasty to pour over it; to pull all the flavours together. You can buy instant vegetable gravy granules which are suitable for vegans in as much as they contain no animal products but they lack flavour, have a slightly chemical after taste, contain far too much salt and, all the ones I have seen, contain palm oil. Palm oil production threatens the habitat of and is responsible for the decline in numbers of orangutans so, to my mind, that makes it entirely unsuitable for any self-respecting vegan.
In England gravy is a sauce made from meat juices but in America the term is used to describe a much wider range of sauces. This “gravy” recipe comes from Isa Chandra Moscowitz‘s book Vegan with a Vengeance. It is nothing whatsoever like an English gravy but it may just have changed my life!
You know that feeling when you find a new recipe and you can imagine exactly what it will taste like based on the ingredients? Well I thought this was going to be one of those sauces but it’s not. It is so much more tasty than I imagined – it is a Gestalt sauce where the sum is definitely greater than the parts. We ate it on a vegan roast dinner but we had leftovers so I had some on mashed potatoes for my lunch (and for a photo) next day and I can assure you that this may be the best comfort food ever.
I have reproduced the recipe below exactly as it appears in the book (with English measurements) but Isa Chandra says that she loves to experiment and to change it up so it really appealed to me – and of course I made a couple of changes…
I was curious about the use of asian soy sauce and mediterranean herbs but it works really well – don’t be tempted to change that. However, the original recipe calls for dried herbs and I don’t buy them so I used fresh – I happened to have rosemary and thyme but not oregano so I left that out. The recipe also calls for flour as a thickener but I decided not to because I am trying to reduce the amount of wheat I eat. Instead, once the sauce was finished, I gave it a bit of a blitz with a stick blender – I probably blended about a quarter of the chickpeas but left the rest chunky. This worked perfectly, the sauce was thick enough and flavoursome enough without the flour. In fact it was a bit too thick by day two and I should have added a little bit more water. I also added a teaspoon or two of vegan bouillon powder which I think added value.
If you make this feel free to play around with the flavours yourself but please let me know how you get on.
I probably wouldn’t have called it “Punk Rock” gravy but then I don’t look or live like Isa Chandra Moscowitz, although I did have my moments back in the day…
35g Plain Flour
1 tbsp Olive Oil
1 Medium Onion (sliced)
2 tsp Yellow Mustard Seeds
3 Cloves of Garlic (crushed)
1 x 400g can Chickpeas
Pinch Ground Cumin
Pinch of Dried Rosemary
Pinch of Dried Thyme
Pinch of Dried Oregano
Pinch of Ground Coriander
3 tbsp Soy Sauce
2 tbsp Lemon Juice
35g Nutritional Yeast
Mix the flour with 450ml / 3/4 Pint water until the flour is mostly dissolved.
Heat a large, heavy bottomed frying pan over a medium-high heat. Cook the onion and mustard seeds in the olive oil for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is browned and the seeds are toasted. Add the garlic and saute for 2 minutes more.
Add the drained chickpeas and use a potato masher to mash them, you don’t want to mash them into a paste; just make sure each one is broken up, although if there are a few whole ones left, that is ok. Add the herbs and spices, soy sauce and lemon juice. Scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen any browned bit of onion.
Lower the heat and pour the flour mixture into the pan. Stir constantly until a thick gravy forms. Stir in the nutritional yeast. If it looks too thick and pasty add a little more water and stir well until it loosens up.
Keep warm until ready to serve.