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Mar 27

Biscuits and Gravy for the win!

Biscuits and GravyWhen I spent the summer of 2001 in North Carolina, one of the southern staples that I could never try was biscuits and gravy.  Being a vegetarian in the south is a bit of a chore anyway, and I subsisted for the most part on eggs and pancakes for breakfast there.  But I always wanted to sample it, mostly because everyone I knew was crazy about it, and would rave about this as a great meal.

Fast forward to a month or so ago and I was looking at recipes (I always do this when I’m hungry – I navigate toward recipe books), when I stumbled upon a vegan gravy recipe using chickpeas.  Since I had potatoes at the time, I thought why not try it.  And… this gravy was delicious.  I mean, I stopped eating the smashed potatoes that I had made, and just ate the gravy.  And then I licked the bowl clean.

Then, yesterday, I was looking at what I had in the refrigerator, to see what was going to expire and what I needed to use up.  Lo and behold, I had some biscuits hanging out, as well as all the other ingredients to make gravy.  But since I am trying to keep a healthy diet, I had to make a side as well.  So, I used some old (vegan) cheezy sauce to cook with broccoli in order to satisfy my conscience, and cooked up a batch of biscuits and gravy.

All I can say is that I cannot stop eating this dish. I finally realize why people in the South love it.  Overnight, it became my favorite comfort food of all time, surpassing mac and cheese by a long shot.  I had it again today for breakfast, and it was insanely good the day after.  What I also like about it is that it’s not as unhealthy as the original.  Packed with beans, a ton of B-vitamins, and little to no fat, it’s an ok source of nutrition and it’s cheap as hell to make.

Here is my version of the gravy recipe (with some fat cut out), but if you want the original, it’s here.  I used the pre-made biscuits that you can get at the grocery store.

Punk Rock Chickpea Gravy (from Vegan with a Vengeance, altered by me for convenience and lower fat)
Makes about 3 cups. Serves 4 to 6.

1/4 C all purpose flour
Approximately 2 1/2 C water
Spray of Pam (optional)
1 medium sized onion, quartered and sliced thin
2 tsp mustard seeds
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 pinches ground cumin
2 pinches paprika
1 pinch dried rosemary
1 pinch dried thyme
1 pinch dried oregano
1 pinch dried coriander
2 Tbs soy sauce
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 C nutritional yeast

Mix the flour with 2 cups of water until the flour is mostly dissolved. Heat a large skillet over medium heat.

Add the spray of Pam or other light oil spray.  I actually used water to saute, but that’s up to you. Put in the onions and mustard seeds; cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are browned and the mustard seeds are toasted. Add the garlic and saute for 2 minutes more.

Add the chickpeas; use a potato masher to mash them — you don’t want to mash them into a paste, just make sure each one is broken up although if there are a few whole ones left, that is ok. (I actually used a food processor to break them up, but a masher works too.)

Add the herbs and spices, soy sauce, and lemon juice. Scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen any browned bits of onion. Lower heat and pour the flour/water mixture into the pan. Stir constantly until a thick gravy forms. Stir in the nutritional yeast. If it looks too thick and pasty, add more water and mix well. It may look like it doesn’t want any more water added to it, but just keep mixing and it will loosen up. Keep warm until ready to serve.

Note: For those of you not into vegan cooking, nutritional yeast is not regular yeast. You can find it in the health food section of the grocery store.  It lends a cheesy-nutty taste to things.

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