I’m a big fan of Lauren Toyota from Hot For Food. When I was watching her video for cashew butter smashed potatoes and I couldn’t stop laughing when she was talking about her experiences of having dinner at someone else’s house for Christmas or Thanksgiving. As a vegan, most of the dishes were off limits and the host would set aside something for her:
“They set aside two steamed potatoes for me. They’re like ‘Here, we set aside plain potatoes for you. Enjoy!’ … Nobody wants to eat plain ‘effin potatoes!”
As a coeliac, vegan, vegetarian, coeliac-vegan, coeliac-vegetarian (or whatever applies to you!), big family dinners can be a bit disheartening. Whilst everyone is tucking into the turkey filled with breadcrumb-filled stuffing, liberally dousing their plates in turkey gravy made from the meat juices, you might find yourself sitting with a shabby ready-made or possibly the most flavourless, dry gluten-free veggie nut roast known to man. Not this year.
You need this vegetarian gravy.
Making a big batch of vegetarian gravy is super simple and you don’t need to hunt high and low for a gluten-free packet mix in the shops. This vegan gravy recipe will serve you well right across the festive period and throughout the year, every Sunday evening.
Vegetarian gravy is highly customisable. There are absolutely tons of recipes to pick from.
Some involve dried porcini mushrooms. Some have rich red wine to elevate it. Others use nutritional yeast and tomato puree to give it that little something-something.
I’ve decided to keep it very simple with this gluten-free vegan gravy recipe, using inexpensive ingredients that you can find in any supermarket, and that you probably already have in your pantry. So, when you’re in a pinch, you can whip this up on your stovetop in just 20-ish minutes, cupboard to plate.
If you’ve already had a quick skim of the ingredients list, you probably saw “marmite alternative” listed there.
Firstly, you might be thinking, “I hate marmite!”. Honestly, in this vegan mushroom gravy recipe, it doesn’t matter if you love or hate marmite (I love it, on toast with vegan butter). It’s only there to lend a savoury umami flavour that you wouldn’t achieve with pure salt. The rich, salty, yeasty flavour closely mimics the meaty flavours you would get in traditional gravy. It’s a must-have ingredient which makes the absolute best vegetarian gravy.
Secondly, I say “marmite alternative” because marmite is not certified gluten-free. But you’re in luck because many supermarkets carry their own brand yeast extract, which tastes exactly the same. Tesco and Morrisons are easy to get a hold of. Plus they are ever so slightly cheaper. Who said gluten-free was expensive, eh?
For good gravy, you need to achieve certain features.
You need to strike that perfect balance of sweet and salty. It needs to feel rich to bring your mash and veggies to life. And it absolutely must have the right texture.
In this recipe, the sweetness comes from the red onion and garlic, which you’ll caramelise ever so slightly.
The saltiness comes from the vegetable stock, marmite, and tamari soy sauce.
The richness comes from the vegan butter or olive oil and the dried herbs. The silky thickened stock and the sliced onions and mushrooms give it the perfect texture – no lumpy gravy curds in sight!
You can have this vegetarian gravy with just about anything. Make it in bulk and freeze it in portions. Have it on a weeknight with veggie sausages and mash. Pour it over mashed potatoes or douse some cooked lentils, tofu or Quorn in it. Or, better yet, have it with my fantastic vegetarian wellington for a real treat.
Add this to your repertoire of vegan recipes and you’ll be able to cater to every dietary requirement at the dinner table without compromising on taste and without making those desperate last-minute supermarket dashes for ready-made or packet mix alternatives. As cheesy as it is, to me, cooking dinner for other people is my way of showing love. If I can go that extra mile and make sure that everyone feels accommodated, I will.
Do you only have gravy with your traditional veggie Sunday roast? Or do you have a gravy guilty pleasure combo that I need to know about? Please let me know in the comments! Happy roast dinner to you all!
- 1 tablespoon of vegetable/olive oil or vegan butter
- 1 medium red onion, peeled and roughly sliced
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 100g / 1 cup mushrooms, thinly sliced or diced depending on your preference
- 500ml / 2 cups vegetable broth (made from scratch or using 2 gluten-free vegetable stock cubes)
- 1 tsp marmite alternative (Morrisons or Tesco own yeast extract is best)
- ½ tablespoon tamari soy sauce
- 1-2 tablespoons of cornflour (cornstarch) or gluten-free plain flour
- ½ tsp dried rosemary
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- ½ tsp dried sage
- ½ tsp black pepper
- (If using homemade vegetable stock, omit this step). Boil your kettle with half a litre of water. In a measuring jug, add your vegetable stock cubes. When the kettle comes to a boil, dissolve the stock cubes with 500ml of boiling water. Scoop in your marmite and dissolve completely. Set aside.
- Heat a small pot on medium heat and add your vegetable/olive oil or vegan butter. Tip in your red onion slices and, using a wooden spoon, saute until softened, around 7 minutes. Add in your minced garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes.
- Add in your mushrooms and cook until they've released most of their moisture. You don't want really chewy, soggy mushrooms in this gravy so make sure you cook them down for a good 10 minutes.
- Season the mixture with your herbs and pepper. Do not add any salt because the stock, marmite alternative, and tamari soy sauce are all already very salty.
- This recipe doesn't use a proper roux, but you'll still thicken with flour. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of cornflour or your gluten-free all purpose flour over the mixture, coating the contents of the pan well. Pour in a a splash of your marmite alternative-infused vegetable stock. The mixture will be gooey and sticky. Combine everything well.
- Switch to a whisk now. Slowly pour the rest of the stock and your tamari soy sauce, whisking well. Turn the heat to high until it comes to a boil. Once it is boiling, reduce it to a low heat and leave it to simmer for around 10 minutes until it thickens. Make sure you whisk regularly to avoid anything from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- If the mixture is not as thick as you'd like it after this time, you can add more thickener. To prevent it from getting lumpy, add the thickener to a small mug or ramekin and dissolve it in a splash of water. Make sure it's a completely thin liquid before adding it to your gravy.
- When it is your desired consistency, take it off of the heat. Serve in a gravy boat in the middle of the table or pour all over straight from the stovetop!