Vegetarian Gravy

Vegetarian Gravy 
It's this exact week, each year, that one word comes to mind:  gravy.  When deciding on a Thanksgiving menu, how the gravy's to be made and seasoned invariably comes up.  Until recent years we never had this dilemma.  Jane, my grandmother, made the most delicious gravy and no one since her, that anyone in the family knows, can match.  It was perfectly seasoned, with a deep, rich flavor and enviable, velvety consistency -   not pasty, nor too thin and not in the least greasy.  Sheer perfection.  And she made it every Thanksgiving into old-age.

Since Jane's gravy, we've tried many gravy renditions; some quite involved and not one worth the effort.   I bought a bulb for degreasing and have since thrown it away.  It was impossible to clean and took a lot of space in a utensils drawer I don't like to be crowded.

Then a few years ago, during a non-gravy time of year - perhaps spring - I happened upon a recipe for a gravy made from roasted vegetables.  Always a fan of roasting vegetables, this method was my style and produced a wonderful gravy.  I made it several times, but by Thanksgiving had forgotten about it and moved on to yet another elaborate gravy production.  Recently my husband reminded me of that simple vegetarian gravy and we couldn't believe we had let it pass us by.  After several attempts and with him taste-testing, I've recreated the simple gravy we remember.  What I like about this method for vegetarian gravy is that by roasting the vegetables there's remaining browned bits and a pan to deglaze.  While not a lot of liquid, just this bit gives the gravy its depth of flavor and richness.  And of course, the recipe uses the very basic ingredients found in the SimplyCooking® Pantry.

I will roast a turkey this year, as I always do, removing stuffing and carving at the last minute.  But I won't be messing with the last minute gravy production.   I'll accent the turkey with this simple and delicious vegetarian gravy, happily made several days in advance.

vegetarian gravy

2 onions, peeled
5 stalks celery
5 carrots, peeled
1 apple
several sprigs of parsley
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/8 tsp. dill weed
salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup grape seed oil
2 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup red wine or sherry

Preheat oven to 400 °F.  Halve the onion and cut each half in quarters.  Cut the celery, carrots and apple into 1/2 -inch pieces.  Place it all in a shallow roasting pan.  Place the parsley over the top.  Crush the herbs between your palms and sprinkle over the top.  Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with oil.  Roast for 45 minutes.

As the vegetables roast, warm the vegetable broth in a saucepan.  Remove the roasted vegetables and place in a blender.  Add 1 cup warm broth and pulse a few times to combine but not completely puree the vegetables.  Remove the contents of the blender to a bowl.  Place a strainer over the blender jar and return the vegetables back into the blender through the strainer.  Let the liquid drip into the blender for several minutes, mashing with a spatula to remove all the liquid.  Meanwhile, deglaze the roasting pan.  Place the empty roasting pan over two burners,  medium / low heat.  Add the wine or sherry.  (Brandy or bourbon may be substituted.)  Use a metal spatula to scrape all bits from the bottom of the pan.  Remove from heat.   Remove the strainer from the top of the blender.  Scrape the remnants of the pan into the blender.  Add the remaining 1 cup of warm vegetable broth.  Puree until smooth.  Season with additional salt and pepper.  Use immediately or cool and refrigerate for up to two days and re-warm just prior to serving.  Yield:  2 1/2 cups