Rain, overcast skies, drooping temperatures = comfort food frenzy.My mom introduced me to biscuits and gravy, the old classic southern breakfast, just a few short years ago. At first I was utterly grossed out by the greasy sausage tips poking out from within the gloppy white sauce, but I came to genuinely enjoy it as I and my tastebuds matured. I think my inner hobbit was emerging at that time, which also likely explains my shift in attitude towards the dish.
This version is much healthier, and equally satisfying (and vegan/vegetarian friendly). Liquid mesquite smoke is the key to making the savory, unique, thick gravy, alongside an array of hot spices and your old friends, salt and pepper. Mushrooms and onions add a good dose of vitamins and antioxidants, while rice milk keeps the vegan/vegetarian community honest and the fat content significantly controlled.
1 TB olive oil (or any cooking oil – try coconut)
1 tsp minced or fresh garlic
1/2 cup chopped white onion
1-2 cups sliced baby portobello mushrooms
4-5 TB whole wheat flour
1.5 cups plain rice milk (see note)
1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp Italian seasoning (see note)
2 tsp liquid smoke
Salt and pepper to taste
ASSEMBLY: Heat oil on stovetop, on a medium-high heat. Add minced garlic and stir to combine for about two minutes. Then add chopped onion: season for 4-5 minutes with a wooden spoon, or until it starts to become transparent. Pour in mushrooms and stir for another 2-3 minutes, then add flour one tablespoon at a time and stir constantly for 1-2 minutes. Add seasonings and liquid smoke: stir to cover veggies relatively evenly. Slowly add milk and stir constantly until the sauce begins to thicken – you may need more flour, depending on your preference with gravy thickness – usually about 5 minutes. Let simmer for a few more minutes, tasting and adding seasonings at will. Serve on top of freshly-baked biscuits. I used Minimalist Baker‘s vegan biscuits.
Notes: Rice milk can be subbed for any non-dairy milk, or dairy-based if you’d like | I used an Italian seasoning blend from my super market, which contained marjoram, thyme, rosemary, sage, oregano, and basil. Feel free to use a combination of all, or some, in your adaptation.