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Vegan Gravy

This is a seriously useful sauce for all kinds of vegan and vegetarian dishes, from a classic nut roast to a plate of falafel or a tray of roast tatties.

Method

Heat the oil in a large, wide saucepan over a high heat. Add the mushrooms and fry ‘hard’ for 7-8 minutes. Let them cook without stirring to start with, to develop lots of caramelized colour, then stir from time to time. They will release some liquid: keep cooking until this has been driven off and the mushrooms are well reduced and thoroughly browned.

Add the chopped onion and cook for a few minutes until it starts to take some colour. Then add the carrots and herbs and cook for a few minutes more until the carrots start to colour too. Keep going till all the veg are well browned. Don’t worry if there’s a bit of sticking and burning on the base of the pan – just give any well-browned bits a shove or a scrape with a wooden or plastic spatula from time to time, to loosen them.

Sprinkle in the flour, stir it thoroughly into the veg and cook for a minute or so, stirring regularly.

Pour in the hot stock or water, giving it a good stir-and-scrape with a spatula to help release any nice caramelized bits from the base of the pan and amalgamate the flour.

Add the celery. Bring up to a simmer and cook for 6-7 minutes, or until the veg is just tender. Add the coffee and tamari or soy and take the pan off the heat.

Use a potato masher to crush and mash the veg in the pan, in order to extract maximum flavour then pass the gravy through a sieve, pressing the veg to squeeze out all the lovely juices. (No need to waste the veg that’s left in the sieve – eat it as is or serve it ‘re-fried’ with rice).

Taste the gravy. Add a touch of salt and pepper, and a little more tamari or coffee, if you like, to give it extra depth. If you want to sharpen it, you can add a teaspoon or two of cider or wine vinegar. Serve straightaway or cool and chill until needed. It may separate a bit when cooled, but it will come back together nicely if you give it a whisk as you re-heat it.

Makes about 600ml

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Ingredients

2 tablespoons rapeseed oil

about 100g (4-5 large) chestnut or open cap mushrooms, roughly chopped

1 large or 2 medium onions, peeled and roughly chopped

1 very large or 2 medium large carrots, peeled, halved lengthways and thickly sliced

2 bay leaves

1 large thyme sprig

1 tablespoon plain flour

750ml hot vegetable stock or water

1 celery stick, roughly chopped

2 tablespoons coffee (strong filter or cafetiere coffee is ideal)

1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce

a splash of cider vinegar (optional)

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper