Make my green gravy groovy
November 20, 2023 6:19 AM   Subscribe

This Thanksgiving, I would like to make delicious vegetarian gravy. Please give me your finest vegetarian/vegan gravy techniques!

I'm already experienced in making carnivorous gravy, usually from a roux. But last year's vegetarian gravy turned out a bit school-dinner, without the depth of flavour that the meat gravy had. How can I make this year's vegetarian gravy awesome?

(And can you make a roux with non-dairy shortening, or do I have to use cornstarch?)
posted by Pallas Athena to Food & Drink (17 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
This mushroom gravy is amazing, and works totally fine with vegan butter.
posted by maayan at 6:27 AM on November 20 [1 favorite]

I've made this vegan gravy (using the recipe option that calls for dried porcini mushrooms) and found it had the best depth of flavor of the various vegan gravies I've tried. My husband and I are omnivores, but we both enjoyed this gravy every bit as much as traditional turkey gravy. Definitely add the 1/4 cup of red wine that's listed as optional (unless you can't have wine) and let it simmer a while to develop the flavor. There's no roux in this recipe; instead cornstarch is used to thicken, as well as whizzing the whole batch in a blender at the end. I've made it the day before Thanksgiving and on the day it's been perfectly set up and thick.
posted by little mouth at 6:30 AM on November 20 [2 favorites]

My wife and I make a rosemary porcini coffee gravy every year, and we love it. You can't really taste the coffee in it. The recipe originally came from VegNews magazine, and it can be found on page 11 of this PDF.
posted by alex1965 at 6:33 AM on November 20 [1 favorite]

This is delicious vegetarian (not vegan) mushroom gravy. I have not tried it with vegan substitutions but I bet it would work well. The basic flavor underpinnings of mushroom, thyme, shallot, and sherry are excellent.

For the general question, yes! any fat will work for a roux. Olive oil, whatever, go crazy.
posted by redfoxtail at 6:53 AM on November 20 [1 favorite]

If you're boiling potatoes, save the water from them and use that in your gravy instead of tap water. It's my Mom's tip for non vegetarian gravy but it makes any gravy better.
posted by Lay Off The Books at 6:58 AM on November 20 [4 favorites]

Smitten Kitchen has a few gravy recipes (scroll down on that page). I like the simplest one (the first one she shows), using one of Better than Bullion's vegetarian flavors, particularly their vegetarian chicken one.
posted by BlahLaLa at 7:00 AM on November 20

using one of Better than Bullion's vegetarian flavors

This plus mushrooms is the answer. BTB is one of the few name-brand items I regularly buy and honestly one of the most useful staples in our kitchen. Make an onion and mushroom gravy -- cook onions and mushrooms in the fat of your choice with just enough salt to draw out the moisture, stir in flour, whisk in cool water and cook until thickened -- and season to your liking with Better than Bouillon. It's the easiest gravy, and you don't have to estimate on the seasoning because you just keep adding more paste until you hit the right spot. Add some sage if you want it to taste more like Thanksgiving; cook down a little red wine before you add the flour if you want a little acidity.

As a general rule, you'll want about 2T of fat + 2T of flour for each cup of liquid, and BTB is usually measured at 1t per cup of liquid, although you should start lighter because it can be really salty and you'll already have plenty of good flavor from the mushrooms and onions.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:21 AM on November 20 [2 favorites]

Tomorrow, I'm going to try out an idea I have for using pea flakes as a thickening agent. I'll return then, if it isn't too late for you.

Otherwise, vegan gravy is the single thing where I prefer vegan butter to oil. Maybe it's just a thing where I feel insecure with the oil, I don't think there is much of a taste difference.

I like little mouth's recipe, dried porcinis give so much flavor. Yhough I would have some tomato paste or ketchup on hand for when I am doing the final tasting and seasoning.
posted by mumimor at 7:25 AM on November 20 [1 favorite]

Coming in to recommend the basic technique that BlahLaLa and uncleozzy recommended. The gravy I make for my wife (a vegetarian and lover of gravy) starts with a roux, either oil or butter depending on if we need the gravy to be vegan, cooked until it's gotten some good color and smells good and toasty (halfway to gumbo is how I'd describe it), then whisk in water, Better than Bouillon vegetarian "chicken" or "vegetable" stock to taste, some fresh thyme, and plenty of black pepper. Adjust the flavor at the end with a bit of good vinegar, or alternatively incorporate a mix of white wine and water instead of straight water in the whisking stage. To me the key is getting the roux good and golden-brown, it adds so much roasty-toasty flavor.
posted by saladin at 8:00 AM on November 20

The very reliable recipe I've used for several years is no longer online, so I can't link to it, but I'll steal one trick I remember from it: a tablespoon or so of white miso whisked in for an extra kick of umami.
posted by Jeanne at 9:08 AM on November 20

I make both brown and white (using soymilk) mushroom gravy, and they're both great. A different direction, especially if you're serving someone who doesn't like mushrooms, is the Golden Bowl nutritional yeast gravy from the late, lamented The Grit vegetarian restaurant in Athens, GA.
posted by hydropsyche at 9:31 AM on November 20 [1 favorite]

I start from the Whole Foods pre-pack mushroom gravy and season to taste. Seasoning is white wine, butter, thyme, salt, pepper, and sometimes stock cube and/or stock.
posted by shock muppet at 9:38 AM on November 20

I'm not a vegetarian but this gravy is so good I make it every year. Sometimes not even in November!
posted by fiery.hogue at 10:00 AM on November 20 [1 favorite]

I lived in Santa Monica for a long time and the golden gravy from Real Food Daily is one of the only things I miss about it. I (vegan) have made this my base gravy recipe since 2008, and have shared the recipe with many non-vegan friends over the years. It's a pleaser recipe, and it's also a friendly recipe. Endlessly adaptable with customizing additions (miso and shio koji are great considerations, in addition to or in place of tamari).
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 11:21 AM on November 20 [1 favorite]

Here's my cashew gravy recipe I've been making for like, 20 years. It's vegan, creamy, and the meat-eaters all love it!

Cashew gravy

6 T. raw, unsalted cashews ground to a fine powder/paste
1 ½ C. water
1 T. cornstarch
1-2 T. soy sauce
squirt of lemon juice
seasonings to taste (I use freshly ground pepper and a little garlic salt)

Grind the nuts in a food processor or blender until a paste starts to stick to the sides. While the food processor or blender is on a low speed, slowly add the water. (Or blitz all in a Vitamix. Whatever gets you a smooth cashew milk). Remove a couple tablespoons and create a slurry with the cornstarch. Transfer the rest of the milk to a saucepan and warm up; add the cornstarch slurry. Heat and stir constantly until gravy starts to thicken. Add soy sauce, lemon juice, and seasonings. At this point you can really tailor it to your tastes by adding more of whatever you like. Add the soy sauce gradually while tasting so you don't add too much.
posted by LKWorking at 11:29 AM on November 20 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks to all who posted! I'm in the UK so I can't get Better Than Boullion here, but I'm going to try a mix of vegetable stock, dried mushroom water and wine (what kind??? not sure). Might amp up the stock with an extra carrot and some bay leaves. I've got brown miso, soy sauce and balsamic vinegar for potential additions.

Reading all of these recipes was a real help! I'll make the stock tonight and the roux tomorrow, and report back.
posted by Pallas Athena at 12:31 PM on November 22

Sorry for not returning with my pea-flakes experiment, the kids overruled me and we had other delicious foods today and yesterday (daughter is a chef).

About the wine: any wine that is ok to drink (it doesn't need to be great). But maybe I would try with Marsala or Cream Sherry for this, because they add even more umami, specially the Marsala.
posted by mumimor at 12:50 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]

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