Magic Dairy Free Sauce and Gravy: It’s All About the Roux

Mr. Little Sis is a sauce guy. He likes everything better with sauce on it, gravy, something. It’s never really been a requirement for me, but I have learned to appreciate the additional flavor and the warm yum that a good sauce can provide. Because we’ve had a relatively long and unpleasant winter, warm yum has become pretty important to me. And so I’ve been doing some thinking about creamy dishes and how best to maximize that creamy warm yum.

A couple of weeks ago, I made a mushroom stroganoff from
The Engine 2 Diet:. It was truly delicious, but the sauce was a little less smooth and creamy than it could have been. Okay, it was a little lumpy, like everyone says gravy can be. Having only experienced gravy from master gravy makers, I had never understood the lumpy gravy concern. When I made this dish, I got it. It wasn’t catastrophic. We still enjoyed the dish immensely, but it would have been better without the lumps.

I got the opportunity to think this whole lump problem through last week when making some leftover pot pies. We had leftover lentil casserole, some wild rice, and some peas. I layered them into a baking dish (rather than my big pie plate as the leftovers weren’t plentiful enough for the pie plate). I had this vision of the perfect leftover pot pie in my mind. Where you break through the pie crust and broth/gravy begins bubbling up. I sautéed some onions and mushrooms, heavily dosed them with thyme. I then removed the mushrooms
and onions from the pan and put a couple tablespoons of olive oil in the pan with the remnant bits of sautéed onion and thyme. I then added a few tablespoons of white wheat flour and stirred it into the oil. I left it on medium low heat, and stirred the paste around a bit and let it brown. Letting it brown allows the raw flour taste to cook off. This paste is called a roux (roo) and it is the foundation of yum in many dishes.
When my roux had browned a bit, I added 2 cups of veggie broth and whisked the paste and broth together. I then left it on the heat and whisked frequently until satisfied with incorporation of the roux. I left the heat on and let it cook down a bit, whisking whenever separation appeared. After a few minutes know what I had? The perfect thick gravy like broth to pour over the ingredients of my leftover pot pie. And that’s just what I did. Topped it with a savory pie crust, baked it, and magic. We enjoyed our leftover pot pies with sautéed green beans and a green salad. Fantastic transformation of leftovers and a deliciously warming meal, with nary a lump in that creamy gravy broth. Every time you wish you had gravy or a creamy sauce, you can have magic too. Just vary the seasonings and the liquid you add according to the flavor you’re going for. Check this out if you want to become a roux expert.

As watch the snow come down in Mid-Maryland, I am reminded of a dish favored in the diner in my college town: gravy fries. Yeah, that’s what this snow storm needs, gravy fries. Here’s hoping you either have warmth and sunshine or just enough flour and olive oil to make your own leftover pot pie and gravy fries. Eat well, be well friends.

Throw Some Sauce on What You’ve Got

It’s all in the sauce Sister!  I mean where would pasta, rice, noodles and life be without it?  Having sauce on hand is a great tool when you need a quick meal.

Here are 2 that I have come to depend on.

Pesto is not just to zip up some pasta!  Not if you add nuts and veggies to the mix.  That, my friends is a zipped up meal that takes very little time.  Pesto is not cheap, but be aware that you don’t need nearly as much pesto for a pound of pasta as you would tomato sauce.  Pesto packs a punch!  You only need about 4 – 6 ounces of pesto to a pound of pasta, and although that’s likely to cost you about $4-6, … it is still cheaper than eating out – and better for you, and you might even have some leftovers.  And it’s quick!  Did I mention quick?  Back to the quick part, which is a BIG factor in the choice to eat out, isn’t it?

(Before the quick part – if you have some fresh basil, you can make a batch of pesto and freeze it.  Even better you can make Little Sis’ Sunflower seed pesto which is cheaper than using pine nuts and parmesan – and is totally plant-based and even is she wasn’t my sister, I’d tell you it is truly yummy.)

So cook your pound of pasta (preferably whole wheat, but maybe that’s a baby step you will take a little further down the road)

When it’s done – drain, add your pesto and then add or offer the following:

We don’t eat at the windowsill, but there is nice light there!

a choice of nuts: I recommend walnuts or cashews… but hey – you can add whatever you want 😉

a choice of vegetable: (fresh or frozen that you’ve heated up): I recommend frozen green beans or peas since we’re talking speed, but if you want to add sauteed peppers or greens, or zucchini… you can add whatever you, or your peeps want!

If you don’t add to the whole mix then everyone can choose what and how much they want.  My son doesn’t like the walnuts in the pasta but he eats them on the side which works for me.

So if you use frozen veggies like I did on this particularly crowded evening full of schoolwork, TaeKwonDo and baseball, this takes about as long as it takes to cook the pasta.  It made me happy, and when Momma is happy, everybody is happy!

And now for the second sauce…and last recipe that I will share from Meals That Heal Inflammation, because certainly this wonderful book should be purchased!! (Actually, the book is FULL of very interesting information about food and inflammation with recipes at the end.  I highly recommend it.)

This is a Pad Thai sauce that uses almonds instead of peanut, and got my son to eat raw zucchini.

Wait – did you miss that?  This sauce gets my son to eat raw zucchini. This boy does not like zuchhini, but he digs the sauce Baby!

Raw Pad Thai Sauce (Meals that Heal Inflammation, p. 306.)
2 Tbsp. (30ml) tahini
2 Tbsp. (30ml) almond butter (use peanut butter if you don’t have almond)
1 Tbsp. (15ml) lemon or lime juice
2 Tbsp (30ml) wheat-free tamari (I used Bragg’s liquid aminos – you could also use soy sauce, maybe a little less though and taste)
1 Tbsp (15ml) raw honey (I used un-raw? honey)
1/4 tsp. (1ml) garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. (2.5ml) ginger root, grated

Difficult instructions: Mix all that there stuff together.  I do it in a 4 cup measuring cup with a fork.

I usually double or triple this recipe.  It is quite thick but it thins out when you put it over raw vegetables or raw vegetable and rice or raw vegetables and noodles.  I used my mandoline to make long thin noodles out of zucchini which could also just be cut.  I also used grated carrot and red cabbage (very fast and easy in a food processor if you have one).  You could also use green onion, cauliflower or broccoli, bean sprouts, peppers or romaine.  Adding rice or noodles beefs it up a little. And of course you could add some leftover chopped meat if you like.  Whatever you have is the key because one evening when you get home, you’ve got what you’ve got, and the choice is throw some sauce on what you’ve got or go out to eat.

Throw some sauce on what you’ve got
To make what you’ve got hot-ter
It’s meant to be, just mix and see
A smiling son or daughter

Sauce on hand at your command
For a bowl full of vitality
Be sauce-y sisters be sauce-y
Go sauce-y brothers – Go Sauce-y!

Sorry.  I need my 11 year old looking over my shoulder to edit my silliness, but he’s cleaning the guinea pig cage, so you’re stuck with my extra sauce 🙂

PS – here are a few other sauces to try:
Easiest/Fastest tomato sauce ever
Fabu Asian Peanut Sauce
Basil Avocado Cream
This is a fast mac & cheese sauce that can be frozen and used on other things… or for fast mac & cheese!

Please share links to your favorite go to sauces that will keep in the frig or freezer for nights when you’ve just to throw some sauce on what you’ve got!

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