We have been asked for a good Vegetarian Gravy recipe. With the holidays upon us, we thought this would be a great idea for a post. Here is the issue: There is a difference between gravy and sauce. A sauce is some sort of liquid goodness you put on a plate to add color, flavor, moisture, etc. A gravy is all that, but it is made with the drippings/remnants of whatever meat you’ve just cooked. You see the problem. Do not dispair, for I have come up with the answer–a completely vegetarian gravy that will have even the most meat-addicted member of your family coming back for a second helping!
Preheat your oven to 425. Then start with 1 pound of sliced mushrooms.
Two things to note, yes these are mushrooms bought pre-sliced. Also, they are a little past their prime. This means they’re on sale. Recipes like this one are a perfect use for produce that’s a little past it’s prime, and therefore cheaper!
In a large bowl, toss lightly in oil:
1 lb. mushrooms (the same mushrooms discussed above)
2 small (or one large) onion, roughly chopped
3-5 cloves of garlic, depending on taste and size of cloves, smashed
1 bay leaf
1 dried chili pepper (or 2 tsp dried chili powder)
Salt and pepper to taste
Now, put them in a roasting pan.
You’ll see I’ve used a cast iron skillet. Cast iron is amazing for roasting because of it’s even heating and ability to hold in a lot of heat. Also, at the time all my other roasting pans were dirty. Never be afraid to improvise.
Now put the pan in your oven and roast until the mushrooms are dark, the garlic is squishy and goopy, the onions are very tender and your entire house smells delicious. About 30-45 minutes.
Meanwhile, you’re going to make a roux. Take 3T of butter and melt it in a pan over medium heat. Then add in 3T of flour and whisk thoroughly until all the lumps are out.
Keep stirring for another 3-5 minutes. Try not to brown the roux too much but if it gets a little dark, don’t worry. The reason for the added cooking is the longer you can cook the flour, the less pasty it will taste in the sauce. If you’ve ever had a gravy that felt like it coated your mouth with talcum powder, the flour used wasn’t cooked enough.
When it’s time, take your veggies out of the oven, hopefully they look something like this:
Remove and reserve all the loose veggies, keep any stuck to the pan. Put the pan on a low flame. Add 2T of Tomato Paste to the pan and begin to stir with a spatula or a wooden spoon, something heat proof that can scrape stuff off the bottom of the pan. Keep stirring until the tomato paste is dark and caramelized, but not burnt. Then add 3cups of mushroom broth. Stir until the tomato paste is dissolved and everything is scraped off the bottom of the pan.
Run the broth through a fine mesh strainer to get out all the dark, stuck chunks of veggies, then return the liquid to the pan and put the pan back on the burner. Then just wait for the broth to boil and add your roux.
Very Important, you need to wait until there’s a good boil on the gravy before adding the roux. Also, have your whisk handy so you can stir like the wind. Otherwise you risk a lumpy gravy with pockets of undissolved roux floating in it, not very tasty.
The gravy will begin to thicken almost instantly, keep stirring until it begins to boil again. Then just let it simmer until the desired thickness, which shouldn’t take too much longer, maybe 3-5 minutes.
We ate this gravy on open faced sandwiches with chicken, the leftover roasted veggies and greens from our garden on top of semolina rye that Pretty Bird made.
Other good uses, Mashed Potatoes, Biscuits, or even Gnocchi!