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Vegetarian gravy without mushrooms

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Our Thanksgiving dinner has just enlarged to 7 people, one of whom is vegetarian (no meat, no fish). In addition to the turkey gravy, I'd like to make some gravy that everyone can put on mashed potatoes. The kicker is that the vegetarian does not eat mushrooms, and most of the vegetarian gravy recipes I've found seem to rely on mushrooms.

Where do I go from here? Do you have a mushroom-free vegetarian gravy recipe that you like? Is my best bet maybe going to start with caramelized onions and red wine?


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Marmite is a great idea and it points towards other solutions..........fermented soy products like miso, black beans, tamari, and etc. The trick would be to balance favors correctly.

Kim chi, too.

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i believe mushrooms are included in vegetarian gravy recipes because of the umami kick that mushrooms impart, and all the previous posts point to ingredients with hefty umami.

An alternative, and IMO, a better one, is to use Japanese konbu that is usually called for in dashi stock making. It is a kind of seaweed or kelp, and you should be able to find them in asian/japanese grocery stores. And yes, there is the chinese and korean version of the same seaweed, but are not as good as the konbu for stock/gravy making.

a simpler solution is MSG :laugh:

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I have really enjoy the use of nutritional yeast as a booster for vegetarian gravies -- it comes from fungus, so maybe that eliminates it, but it doesn't have a mushroom flavor per se...it is most just delicious. You can use veggie stock, a roux, some nutritional yeast -- I have really been happy with the ones I have whipped up. You could even make it vegan by omitting the butter and using some oil. Sweat some shallots, herbs and garlic, add some white wine, reduce, make roux, add veggie stock, add yeast, strain, delicious.

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mushrooms, marmite, vegemite, miso, konbu, nutritional yeast, etc, all have one common denominator.. glutamic acid (or umami)

However, they all come with their own flavors in addition to just providing glutamic acid, and as catdaddy has posted ' The trick would be to balance flavors correctly' . If you just want to sub mushrooms in your recipe, then i think konbu would be less intrusive, and 'real' MSG least intrusive of all, in the sense of achieving the same balance of flavors in your original recipe.

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I make gravy from onions, it's sort of a pureed french onion soup thickened a bit. You can freeze the onion soup before it's gravy, and have gravy ready really fast. Here's a basic recipe, I rarely measure anything when making it, sorry.

Onion Soup base:

Olive oil

white onions, 4+ large ones you want to start with what seems like a LOT of onions

dry sherry



dark, Chinese style soy sauce or Bragg's aminos (for color)

fresh thyme



AP flour

Peel and thinly slice the onions.

Heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a tall stockpot. Add the onions and a teaspoon of salt, and cook on fairly high heat, stirring frequently. Cook the onion mass for at least a half hour, an hour is better. The onions should be browned on the edges. You don't want totally caramelized onions, you just want them sweated and a bit browned. Add a tablespoon or two of sherry and allow the alcohol to cook off. Add water to the level of the top of the mass of onions, a half teaspoon of soy sauce, some fresh thyme leaves stripped from the stems, and simmer for about 20 minutes. Taste and add salt as needed. If the color needs a boost, add tiny amounts of soy sauce until it looks good. You don't want a distinct soy flavor. Simmer to incorporate the final additions, serve hot as soup. Freezes very well. For gravy, allow to cool and puree in a blender or with an immersion blender.

To make gravy, make a dark roux with oil and AP flour and slowly stir cooled soup into the hot roux and allow to simmer and fully thicken.

This gravy also makes a good base for a vegetarian stew; cook chunks of potato, carrot, pearl onions, whole mushrooms, sliced sunchokes, etc. in it and add a few frozen peas just before serving.

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Lisa, that's exactly the sort of thing I was thinking of. The flavors of Marmite or kombu definitely would not fly with this vegetarian!

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Onion gravy is a favourite in our house as well, but generally very basic. Onions smothered in butter in various sizes, so some of it disappears into the sauce and some of it gives a bit of texture. Either a bit of garlic, mustard, horseradish, some chopped tomato, soy sauce (ketjap medja) and/or sometimes a hint of chipotle are used to perk things up. The first 4 can also be used in the mash itself (a garlic glove can cook along with the potatoes for a subtle flavour) of course.

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My husband made an onion gravy. We all liked it, but thought it maybe a tad sweet. Some of the recommendations from CeeCee may very well help with that, next time we try it. Thanks!

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