All Aboard the Gravy Train

This recipe may seem way less exciting than the vegan pumpkin pie recipe. Like… it’s just gravy, right? Even a so-so gravy is still gravy. Gravy is a sidekick that nobody pays attention to. Gravy, my friends, is never the star. Heck, if the meal is done nicely, you might even skip the gravy altogether. Gravy… who cares?!

You’d be totally justified in thinking all of these things. But you’d be wrong.

Let’s travel back in time to the very same “Ryan’s first vegan Thanksgiving.” I had told you all that I pulled down recipes for lots of the staples — vegan stuffing, vegan roast, etc. etc. One of those recipes was for vegan gravy. I made this recipe the very first year, and it turned out quite nicely. “Actually,” I thought, “…this is pretty damn good. I’m going to just keep using that.”

No big deal, right? A pretty good gravy — great. We’re all very happy for you, Ryan. Why, sweet mercy, why are you wasting our time with this?

Let me just say this: apparently, this is no ordinary gravy. Over the years, I’ve had multiple Thanksgiving guests from all over the world. Colleagues from England. Dear friends from Italy. Fellow scientists from China. Family members, acquaintances, and even a few people that I just plain don’t like. Across all of these people, vegan or otherwise, one pattern has emerged: there’s always someone who stops eating and says “What the… where the hell did you get this gravy? This is great!” And, like many of you, I used to consistently respond with “Oh, yeah, it’s just gravy, you know. Homemade, but… it’s just gravy.”

Over the years, the pattern grew stronger and stronger. When I’d visit other people, they would specifically request that I bring this gravy. Not my wife’s amazing apple pear cake. Not our hearty vegan stuffing. Not garlicky mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, or whatever else you may have. And, I say this without ego — we make all of these things, and they’re all really great.

It’s the goddamn gravy. People won’t shut up about it. I don’t know what it is. Over the years, I still feel like “Yeah, it’s pretty good.” I’ve almost grown to resent this gravy recipe. People like it vastly more than they like me, and my envy has grown over the years. I lay awake at night, simulating scenarios in my head. What if the gravy recipe just… disappeared? Sure, people would mourn the loss. But, over time, they’d forget about the gravy, and then it’d be Ryan’s time to shine. The glory can be all mine.

No. No, no. They’d never forget about the gravy. The disappearance of the coveted gravy recipe would send shockwaves through the tight-knit community of friends, family, and acquaintances who had tasted its magic. The collective outcry of those who had lost their favorite Thanksgiving companion would grow louder and louder. Local newspapers would run headlines like “Gravy-Gate Scandal Rocks Thanksgiving Tradition.” Social media platforms would be flooded with posts, memes, and pleas for the safe return of the beloved recipe. The town would be abuzz with speculation, and whispers of Ryan’s suspected involvement in the gravy’s disappearance would circulate through hushed conversations in coffee shops and grocery stores. There’d probably even be a TikTok dance dedicated to the gravy.

The police, recognizing the gravity of the situation, would form a special task force to track down the gravy recipe. Clad in aprons instead of traditional detective attire, they would comb through my house for clues, interviewing neighbors about any suspicious gravy-related activity. “Has Ryan been seen using any other condiments, sauces, glazes, or aiolis lately? He doesn’t seem that upset about the loss of his beloved gravy.” The community would be gripped by gravy-mania, rallying behind the investigation, providing tips and leads to aid the detectives.

The manhunt would inevitably intensify, and media coverage expand would beyond the local sphere. National news outlets would pick up the story, turning the vegan gravy into a symbol of unity in a divided world. Cooking shows would feature dramatic reenactments of the gravy’s disappearance, and talk shows would be host to impassioned discussions about the impact of losing such a beloved recipe.

There would be a search. The police would find the torn-up remains of the recipe out in the woods, buried in a shallow grave, singed corners and all. There would be questions for which I had no answers. They’d throw the book at me, and it’d all be over.

No… no. Better to keep the recipe for now so that I can bide my time. Yes… that’s it. I’ll lay in wait… for now.

Anyways, here’s the recipe! It’s vegan by default but, of course, you can use any kind of broth/stock you want — it doesn’t have to be veggie stock. But, it’s pretty great with veggie stock. Just be really, really mindful about the salt content — remember that you can always add more salt later, but if you goof up and use salty stock or the wrong kind of soy sauce, you could end up with a brutally salty gravy that completely sucks.

I’ve also had vegetarian friends and non-vegan friends substitute out parmesan cheese for the nutritional yeast, claiming really good results. I’ve never tried it myself, but figured that I’d share that tidbit.


Vegan Gravy

Ingredients (use vegan versions):

  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 2/3 cup chopped onion
  • ~10 average-sized cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce (you don’t want the gravy to be too salty)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth or whatever stock you like (NO SODIUM)
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions:

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.

  1. Sautee the onion for about 4 minutes, until it just starts to turn translucent.
  2. Throw in the garlic and continue to sautee for 1 additional minutes
  3. Stir in flour and nutritional yeast. Let it fry for 1 minute, using a whisk to mix constantly, the entire time
  4. Add the soy sauce; this will almost instantly turn the gravy into a smooth paste. Let it fry for about 1 more minute
  5. VERY GRADUALLY whisk in the broth. Season with sage, salt, and pepper.
  6. Gently bring to a boil, keeping on medium heat. Reduce heat, and simmer, stirring constantly, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until thickened.

IMPORTANT NOTES:

  1. Make sure that you’re using a low sodium (preferably no sodium) veggie broth for this, otherwise it will come out incredibly salty.
  2. This makes a lot of gravy. Only double this recipe if you’re looking to make a TON of gravy.
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