Since the start of 2011 when I started a vegan diet, my boyfriend has been very supportive despite occasional and irrepressible teasing. He has eaten my tofu stir fries, veggie quinoa soups and bean tacos with a smile and an encouraging, “it’s delicious, babe”. But I can tell he misses the old days when I made more familiar foods like ground turkey nachos or chicken and mash. So last night I thought I’d try to appease his craving for the familiar and I took a stab at vegan “comfort food” and well… it was pretty damn good and he loved it.
Crispy “Chicken” with Shitake Mash and Brussel Sprouts
The “Chicken”: Vegan Gardein Crispy Tenders
The Sprouts: I picked up these big delicious brussel sprouts from the Royal Oak Farmer’s Market this weekend. You can prepare them a number of ways. One really simple way is to boil them for 5 mins, drain and add a little vegan margarine and salt to taste.
The Mash Potaters: Yukon gold potatoes, 1 Cup-ish of rice milk, 1Tbsp-ish of Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread, 1 Tsp-ish minced garlic, salt and pepper to taste. Boil potatoes until soft (20-25 mins), drain and then mash together with remaining ingredients
The Gravy: Here is where the work comes in.. This recipe is from The 30 Minute Vegan cookbook by Mark Reinfeld and Jennifer Murray. I have never made a gravy from scratch before, so it was a new experience but it was surprisingly simple. The recipe is as follows:
Makes 3 cups
1/4 cup flour (the book recommends spelt, I used brown rice flour)
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp safflower or olive oil
1 cup thinly sliced yellow onion
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1/2 cup thinly sliced shitake mushroom
2-1/4 cup water or vegetable stock (I used water because veg stock can sometimes have an overwhelming flavor)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast (this was hard for me to find, but I found it at Organic Foods in Ferndale)
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp minced fresh Italian parsley
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg (optional)
1/4 tsp sea salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp black pepper, or to taste
1. Create a roux by combining the flour and 1/4 cup of oil in a small bowl and whisking well
2. Place the remaining tablespoon of oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, and mushrooms, and cook until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and add the nutritional yeast, soy sauce, parsley, and nutmeg if using, stirring frequently.
3. Add the roux and stir constantly until the sauce thickens, about 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
And voila! Comfort Food a la Vegan.