Veggie Gravy and Potatoes

13 Feb

No picture for this, alas.  I was writing up the Skyline recipe when I thought I ought to include this as well.  Not that anyone will miss my poorly-lit food photography.  Thanks, tiny kitchen and lighting-deficient apartment!  Oh well.

In any event, this recipe came originally from the Everyday Happy Herbivore, which I like because it is a nice change from the meals I always yearn to make (behold!  Soul-satisfying slow-cooked chili!  Spicy Spanish-inspired garbanzo beans and crushed fresh coriander!  Sauteed kale and caramelized onion quinoa!) when I am tired and busy and not in the mood, which does happen.

I decided to originally try this recipe on one such night.  This was first served over biscuits, which I was willing to try (because they were also easy), but unfortunately, disaster struck.  I popped the nicely-formed biscuits out of the oven, was about to carry them to my food-staging counter, and then–for reasons I don’t recall at all–lost my grip on the baking sheet, flung the biscuits all over the floor, and bounced the baking sheet right against the trash can.  Of course, the veggie gravy was already on and going.

I’m pretty sure I actually cried.  At the very least there was a bit of shouting.  I am pretty sure I tried to make the biscuits again but added too much soymilk because I was too frazzled to, you know, look at a recipe I’d only seen once before, and they ended up as oozing lumps.

So I finally decided to try my hand at making heavy cream- and butter-free mashed potatoes (olive oil and soymilk instead.)  Guess what, they’re awesome!  Slap some potatoes on a plate, hollow out a little bowl for veggies and gravy, and you have a moderately attractive and easy meal.  Plus, a great way to get in some veggie and starch.  (And mostly low-fat!  Personally, I don’t agree with making everything no-added-fat, but it works well here.)  The key here to thickening the gravy is (instead of the binding/simmering of fat and flour, like in a roux) the cornstarch and heat.

The other nice thing about this is that it’s a simple kitchen-sink type of recipe.  Use up those frozen veggies and add a little soymilk, seasoning, and thickener, and ta da!  Dinner.

Veggie Gravy and Potatoes

Special equipment: Maybe a potato masher counts as special equipment?  I used a fork/spoon/meat tenderizer (haha) for ages, but a potato masher has totally upped my mashed-potato game.  It’s also good for smashing beans for burgers.  I don’t like to use a hand mixer on my potatoes because it’s too much work and I like my potatoes a little chunky and peppery/garlicky, but feel free to use them yourself.   Other than that, a whisk, saucepan, and stockpot–maybe a prep bowl!–will serve you well.

Veggie gravy ingredients:

Again, feel free to cut down on the salty-type seasonings like garlic and onion powder if it’s not your thing; it’s mine (and especially the boyfriend’s), so I cook for that palate.  It’ll work equally well with less of what you don’t care for as much.  I think the paprika adds a nice, subtle warmth to the gravy, but it won’t be spicy.  It is veggies and gravy.

1 cup vegetable broth
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 cup unsweetened nondairy milk
3 tsp Italian seasoning blend
1 tsp dried marjoram
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp paprika
2 tsp onion powder
3 tsp garlic powder
2 1/2 cup mixed frozen veggies (or one regular-sized bag)

Vegan mashed potatoes ingredients:

4-6 medium-sized potatoes
salt, pepper, paprika, garlic, dash of nutmeg to taste
olive oil
unsweetened nondairy milk

Boil water, mixed with a few drops of olive oil, in the stock pot.  Wash, peel, and chop the potatoes; when the water is boiling, drop them in and cook until fork-soft (you should be able to stick a utensil in the pot and break apart a potato chunk with minimal effort.)

While the potatoes are cooking, mix the broth and cornstarch in the prep bowl; whisk together until smoothly combined.  Set aside with all the other gravy ingredients.

Put all the ingredients (minus the potato stuff, of course) in the saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Stir occasionally while the gravy simmers and taste.  Season to taste; if the spices are too strong, slowly pour in a touch more unsweetened nondairy milk.  Leave the gravy and vegetables on to simmer as you go to make the potatoes.

Drain the cooked, soft potatoes immediately.  I like to return them to the (still-warm) pot in which they were cooked, to retain heat and because a lot of my mixing bowls are cheap plastic.  I smashed a hole in one making mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving.  (I know, this kind of thing happens to me a lot.)

Pour in a little olive oil–not enough to cover the potatoes, but a pretty good drizzle–followed by approximately 1/3 cup of unsweetened not-milk, and start mashing.  If things get away from you, use a spoon to clear out the masher and scoop the potatoes into a centralized pile for easy mashing.  If the texture is too chunky/thick, add more milk/oil slowly.

Season to taste!  I usually like a bit of Montreal steak seasoning (steak seasoning and meat tenderizers for potatoes, this post is rife with vegan re-appropriation of meaty things!), garlic, paprika, and just a dash of nutmeg.  If you don’t have Montreal steak seasoning (I think it’s a McCormick thing), salt and pepper will be perfectly fine.  I just think it makes the potatoes look nice, too.

Plate the potatoes first and hollow out a space for the gravy; pour into the “bowl” and a little over the potatoes.

Enjoy dat cruelty-free country dinner.

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