Savory Vegan Gravy

   

Gravy is one of my favorite types of sauces; I smother just about everything on my plate with the stuff when I can get away with it. Even my favorite breakfast is fresh buttermilk biscuits under a blanket of piping hot cream gravy. That’s why it’s so confusing that I so rarely cook my own gravy on Thanksgiving day. I guess it’s just because I already have so much on my to-do list that I figure I will save myself a little bit of time by picking up a tub of vegetarian gravy from the grocery store. You know what though? It almost always disappoints. The quality of the other food at the table tends to outshine the hint of bitterness I feel for not having made the gravy from scratch… but not this year!

Savory Vegan Gravy

Whenever I was writing up this recipe I had some serious internal conflict as to whether or not I wanted to put “vegan” in the title. On one hand I’m excited to let vegans know that they can have gravy so good they’ll want to pour a bowl of it and eat it like soup. On the other hand… well, I want the non-vegans to know that they will want to do the same thing. The word vegan can be a little intimidating to some folks, especially when dealing with traditional meat centric recipes – but it shouldn’t be! This gravy is good. It’s damn good – and I think that anyone at your table (vegetarian or not) will absolutely love it.

Savory Vegan Gravy

First can I just tell you that this gravy is made with two heads of garlic? You heard right. Not two cloves… two heads of garlic. That alone should assure you that this recipe is not messing around when it comes to flavor. I know that plenty of people don’t want to put their pan drippings to waste, so if you aren’t a vegetarian you can certainly substitute them in place of the oil while making your roux. Vegetarians could also use butter instead of oil if that’s what they like. In either case I wouldn’t recommend removing the nutritional yeast from the recipe. It’s an unfamiliar ingredient to some, but don’t let the off-putting name deter you from giving it a try. It’s generally fortified with B12, is a good source of protein, is naturally fat and sodium free – but none of that stuff would really matter if it didn’t taste good, would it? Don’t worry – it does! Most people liken the flavor to that of a mild, nutty parmesan cheese. It has a lot of uses, but in this recipe it slightly thickens the sauce while enhancing its savory flavors. If you decide to go without, I would probably double the roux and allow your gravy to reduce for longer. I’ve never done this myself though, so if you try it be sure to let me know how it goes!

Savory Vegan Gravy

Savory Vegan Gravy
Serves 8
An intensely flavorful garlic-based gravy that vegans and non-vegans alike will love.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 10 min
Ingredients
  1. 4 cups good quality vegetable stock
  2. 2 garlic heads, whole and unpeeled
  3. 1/2 yellow onion, cut into chunks
  4. 1 carrot, quartered
  5. 1 celery stalk, quartered
  6. 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  7. 1 tablespoon fresh sage
  8. 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  9. 1 bay leaf
  10. 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  11. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  12. 2 tablespoons flour
  13. 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
Instructions
  1. In a saucepan add vegetable stock, whole garlic heads, onion, carrot, celery, pepper, sage, thyme sprigs, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 45-50 minutes.
  2. Strain the stock, reserving only the garlic heads. Set the garlic aside to cool and place the stock back on the stove to stay warm.
  3. When the garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze the cloves out into the warm stock. I like to mash them with my fingers as I do this so they are broken up in the gravy. Whisk in the nutritional yeast and additional fresh thyme.
  4. In a high sided skillet heat olive oil. Add flour and whisk until smooth. Allow it to cook for 2-3 minutes or until the paste is lightly browned.
  5. Slowly pour the stock into your flour paste, whisking until well combined. Allow to simmer over medium low heat for 12-15 minutes or until gravy reaches the desired thickness (I would usually make mine a little thicker than shown in the photos, but I was too excited to eat and I couldn’t wait!) Season with additional salt and pepper if desired. Makes about 2 cups.
Calories
  1. 70
Adapted from Passionate Vegetarian
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Savory Vegan Gravy

 


Creamy Basil Rotini

   

I made this sauce one afternoon when I was craving alfredo, but knew I couldn’t spare the calories. This cheesy sauce has a bit of richness from the heavy cream, but the other key ingredients keep the fat content manageable. As if that wasn’t reason enough to make it, you create the sauce in your food processor in just a few seconds. If you don’t have a food processor you can work the ingredients together with a fork, but make sure your basil is finely chopped as you won’t have the food processor to do the work for you.

 

Creamy Basil Rotini
Serves 3
Lightened up cream sauce with sausage & broccoli that whips up in seconds.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
12 min
Total Time
17 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
12 min
Total Time
17 min
Ingredients
  1. For the sauce:

  2. 3 wedges Laughing Cow Light Cheese
  3. 3 tablespoons Fat Free Cream Cheese
  4. ¾ cups Skim Milk
  5. 1/8 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
  6. 1 cup Basil
  7. ¼ teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  8. ½ teaspoon Garlic Powder
  9. ½ teaspoon Onion Powder
  10. Salt & Pepper (to taste)

  11. For the pasta:

  12. 1 ½ cup Whole Wheat Rotini (dry)
  13. 1 ½ Tofurky Italian Sausage
  14. 2 cups Frozen Broccoli
  15. 3 tablespoons Parmesean Cheese (grated)
Instructions
  1. Blend all sauce ingredients in a food processor until smooth.
  2. Bring pasta to a boil. 2 or 3 minutes before the pasta is fully cooked, put the broccoli into the pot to cook. Strain the pasta and broccoli and return it to the pot.
  3. Add sauce and vegetarian sausage to the pot and mix well. Cook on low heat until warm, then add the parmesan and mix it in well. When the parmesan melts, it’s ready to serve.
Calories
  1. 396
Notes
  1. If you’re using non-vegetarian sausage, you should make sure it’s fully cooked. You can also replace the laughing cow wedges with plain cream cheese, but I happened to have several on hand and I enjoyed the extra flavor they added.
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Shaved Zucchini Noodles and Kale Pesto

   

If you haven’t tried zucchini “noodles” yet, I urge you to give it a try. They are easy to make by simply shaving a zucchini or squash with a vegetable peeler and then lightly sauteing the ribbons in a small amount of butter or oil. This kale pesto has an illusion of indulgence – it tastes great but is low calorie and low fat. With the addition of a vegetarian chicken cutlet, fontina cheese, and halved cherry tomatoes this entree comes in at just over 300 calories per serving. Served on it’s own, the zucchini and the sauce are under 200.

Shaved Zucchini Noodles & Kale Pesto
Serves 3
Shaved zucchini makes an awesome and healthy substitution for regular pasta.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
25 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
25 min
Ingredients
  1. For the pesto:

  2. 3 Cups Kale Greens
  3. 1 Cup Fresh Basil Leaves
  4. 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  5. 1 Clove Garlic
  6. ¼ Cup Pecans
  7. Salt & Pepper, to taste

  8. For the cream sauce:

  9. 3 Wedges Laughing Cow Light Cheese
  10. 3 Tablespoons Fat Free Cream Cheese
  11. 3 Tablespoons Grated Parmesan
  12. ¾ Cup Skim Milk
  13. 1/8 Heavy Cream

  14. For the "noodles":

  15. 3 Zucchini, shaved into ribbons with a vegetable peeler
  16. 1 Tablespoon Butter
  17. Salt & Pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Place pesto ingredients in food processor and pulse until well combined and no large pieces of pecan remain. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  2. Put cream sauce ingredients in food processor (no need to clean it out from before) and pulse until smooth.
  3. Transfer the pesto back into the food processor and pulse a few more times until blended with the cream sauce.
  4. Melt butter in a nonstick skillet on medium heat. Add zucchini ribbons to hot butter, toss to coat, and cook until soft but not mushy.
  5. Serve topped with your creamy kale pesto and added protein of choice. Here I’ve eaten it with a braised Quorn cutlet and some halved cherry tomatoes.
Calories
  1. 164
Notes
  1. Caloric information is for zucchini noodles and sauce only. The addition of the Quorn cutlet, fontina cheese, and tomatoes brings it to around 313 per servings.
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