Most gravies are made using meat or poultry stock and rely on the classic flour-and-fat method to thicken.
But lately I’ve been adding more plants to my diet and wanted to have the option of a plant-based gravy that still had the full flavor of a meal-based gravy.
So I played around with mushrooms last night and came up with something wonderful.
The combination of mushrooms, tamari and coconut aminos is delicious and the arrowroot thickens this gravy nicely without any fat at all.
It’s one of my new favorites.
I first made this plum sauce back in 2009 when I was writing a blog about natural sweeteners called Sweet Savvy.
It was so delicious that it got picked up and published in a cookbook called Locally Delicious.
I made it again this week because plums are in season. I love eating foods that you can only eat at a certain time of year, and now is the time for plum sauce.
I first discovered plum sauce in a Chinese restaurant. It’s part of a dish called Mu Shu Pork. There’s a very thin pancake, you smear on the plum sauce, put the ground pork on top and sprinkle with rice vinegar. One of my all-time favorite dishes.
As I’ve been eating gluten-free, I’ve found that usually the gluten part of a dish does’t have much flavor. The spectacular part of Mu Shu Pork is the plum sauce!
So I make plum sauce and put it on anything! In the photo I made a little stir fry, but you could also use it as a condiment like catsup.
It’s a wonderful way to bring the taste of summer to any dish.
All of the flavoring ingredients can be adjusted to taste—more or less. Start with less and add more to taste.
Since Thanksgiving is coming up, I want to give you some ways to make gravy without gluten.
I love gravy. But usually it’s made with gluten and a lot of fat.
These methods will not only give you great gravy for Thanksgiving, but you can thicken soups and eat gravy every day if you want because the ingredients are good for you.
I’m going to give you three methods in order of difficulty and time needed and then a recipe using gravy #3. At the very least you can do the first one.
Gluten-Free Gravy #1: Arrowroot
- Maranta arundinacea,
- Zamia pumila,
- cassava (tapioca)
Tapioca starch is often labeled as arrowroot, so you could use that too. Arrowroot and tapioca starch are both generally available at natural food stores.
To make gravy, put a bit of arrowroot into a cup and add enough just enough water to make a slurry (a thin, sloppy mud). The standard measurements for gravy are 1 teaspoon arrowroot mixed in 2 teaspoons water to make a slurry for 2 cups liquid.
Then heat the broth you want to thicken and slowly add the arrowroot, mixing as you go. It will thicken quickly, so add the arrowroot slowly so you don’t add too much. It will thicken right where you add it, so you need to mix in the surrounding broth before you add more arrowroot.
Arrowroot will thicken a bit more as it cools, make your gravy a little thin rather than too thick. If you “over-arrowroot” warm your mixture and add more liquid, stirring constantly until you achieve your desired consistency.
Arrowroot is a great gluten-free alternative and does the job, but it’s just a starch.
Gluten-Free Gravy #2: Lentil Flour
Now I know this sounds odd, but just bear with me, because I know you are going to love this.
The first time I made this, I needed a thickener for gravy and didn’t know what to do instead of flour, so I pureed some cooked lentils that I had in the refrigerator. The puree worked perfectly to make a little soy sauce gravy to put over my homemade egg fu yung.
But you have to have lentils on hand and they take a while to cook.
Now here’s the brilliant magic part. I was watching Chopped on TV and one of the contestants made lentil grits. Lentil grits! He just threw the dried lentils into a blender and made a flour and cooked it like grits.
Well, I jumped up and ran into the kitchen and threw dried lentils into my blender, took my homemade bone broth out of the refrigerator, heated it up in a skillet, sprinkled a bit of lentil flour on top and started stirring. I added and stirred and added and stirred and in a few minutes I had the most beautiful gravy, no lumps, silky texture. I said, “This is gravy.”
The lentils not only add a “meaty” flavor, then add protein too! It’s good-for-you gravy!
Gluten-Free Gravy #3: Caramelized Onions
Now caramelized onions…this is a holiday gravy, but also easy to make any time if you’ve done the prep.
I don’t remember exactly when I first made this. It was either Thanksgiving or Christmas, to thicken the turkey gravy. I wanted to stay with my gluten-free diet, and it just came to me that a pureed vegetable would thicken the gravy. And if that vegetable was caramelized onions, it would add a richness of flavor too.
Sometime ahead of when you want to make this, make the Caramelized Onions.
Let them cool and then place them in a blender or food processor. I made only about a cup of onions, so I used a mini processor.
You need to make a very smooth paste. Add water about a tablespoon at a time. Add water, blend, add water, blend and add more water and blend until your mixture is very smooth. You can regrigerate it now, in a glass jar.
When it’s time to make the gravy, heat the broth and add a lot of paste. You will need about 1 part paste to 2 parts liquid. It will thicken. And be delicious.
Look at all the photos. Caramelized onions will give you a dark, rich gravy.
It worked perfectly the first time I made it. Best gravy ever.
I’ll tell you something. As I was making the Caramelized Onion Gravy to take the photo, I was impatient. I was going to eat it for lunch and I was hungry.
I had about a tablespoon of lentil flour left over, not enough to make a serving of gravy, so I put it in with the caramelized onions. Oh my. This is the combination. The lentils will make it thicker and the onions give it color and more flavor.
I threw some leftover chicken in the gravy and a handful of frozen peas and that was lunch. Amazing, amazing, amazing. I could eat that all winter.
A funny thing happened on the way to this recipe.
I first made catsup, oh, about ten years ago when I was publishing a blog called Sweet Savvy. The whole point of that blog was to find ways to substitute refined sweeteners with natural ones. And one of the recipes was catsup.
I wanted to run the recipe in this blog, but didn’t have a photo. So I had to make the recipes again. One for cooked catsup and one for raw.
I got all the ingredients for both and made the cooked one first. It requires about an hour of cooking, so I put it on the stove. While it was bubbling away, I decided to make the raw catsup.
Well! Raw ingredients popped into a blender. Five minutes. Done! And it’s so fresh and delicious! I looked at the cooked catsup cooking away in the pot, and I just turned it off. The raw catsup is so good and so quick there was just no point in giving you the cooked catsup recipe, or even continuing to cook it. I just didn’t want it.
I was actually surprised how much I liked raw catsup when I first made it years ago. It has a nice, fresh taste and contains all the goodness of raw tomatoes, raw garlic and raw honey. Will keep up to two weeks in the refrigerator. Each tablespoon contains less than 1/4 teaspoon honey. By comparison, there is often about a teaspoon of sweetener in every tablespoon of catsup and BBQ sauce generally contains even more.
Years ago when I started making recipes I tried to duplicate the store-bought product in a more natural and healthy way. But what I’ve found over the years that if I just start with the good ingredients and let them be themselves, the new recipe is much tastier than the store-bought product I was trying to duplicate.
All that said, here is my raw catsup and raw BBQ sauce.
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