It seems like I’m constantly having to apologize for eating a mostly vegan diet, and I seem to be including a lot of “I swear it’s good!” affirmations with these recipes. This is sort of pathetic of me, really, but here I am doing it again. I really, really mean it this time. This is an extremely hearty, savoury dish with a lot of umami–just like you would get from a beef gravy (and it’s a simple recipe secret that does not involve any tofu or weird, fake meat). All in an animal-friendly, lower fat, cholesterol-free package. If meat-eaters can’t enjoy this one, I’ll stop trying to convince you. It’s easy (and cheap!) as well, so you may as well give it a try. You’ve nothing to lose!
*The secret to this recipe (as well as to adding a meaty, umami flavor to a lot of vegetarian dishes) is dried porcini powder. It is not a widely used ingredient and the powder itself may be hard to find, but most typical grocery stores will carry dried porcinis. Just take them home and grind them into a powder with your spice/coffee grinder. That’s all it takes. Then, the next time you want to try something healthy but want a meatier flavor, add 1-2 tbsp to the dish. It works really well in soups and sauces.
750 grams (1.5 pounds) of mushrooms, thinly sliced (I used about half white button and half crimini, but use what you like. The containers at most grocery stores are 8 ounces/250 grams.)
45 mL (3 tbsp) canola oil (Olive oil is okay, but would impart a strong taste to the dish.)
SPICE MIXTURE (ground together in spice/coffee grinder): 30 ML (2 tbsp) dried porcinis, 15 mL (1 tbsp) onion powder, 5 mL (1 tsp) each of salt, garlic powder, sage, rosemary, and thyme, and 3 mL (1/2 tsp) black pepper.
45 mL (3 tbsp) flour
500 mL (just over 2 cups) of vegetable stock
120 mL (1/2 cup) plain soy yogurt (Don’t pull that face with me; soy yogurt doesn’t have as strong of a tang as dairy yogurt. Given all the other spices and salt in this, you won’t notice anything except the creaminess it lends to the dish. So chill.)
*Heat a large skillet or even soup pot with heavy bottom over medium-high heat. It is especially important that you let the skillet get hot first, that the mushrooms be dry, and that you use no oil. For one thing, doing without the oil at this point is healthier, but it will also allow the mushrooms to brown instead of steam. That will make for better flavor and texture.
*Throw the mushrooms (in 3 or 4 batches, depending on how wide your pan is) into the hot, dry pan and brown them in a single layer. Please do not throw them all in at once, as that will make them steam and get rubbery like those nasty canned mushrooms I had to eat as a kid. If you do that, and then complain about this recipe, I will find you and discredit you in a hateful smear campaign. So do this in batches, and everyone is happy. Set aside each batch of mushrooms on a plate when they have browned.
*Once all the mushrooms are browned and set aside, heat the oil in the same pan. Once it is hot/shimmering, throw in the spice mixture and the flour. You are essentially making a vegan roux here, only with vegetable oil instead of butter. You want to cook the flour a bit first and also toast the dried porcini powder and other spices a bit before proceeding.
*Add the veggie stock, scrape up the browned bits, and whisk until thoroughly mixed. The sauce should thicken relatively quickly.
*Lower heat to medium-low.
*Add the yogurt and mix well.
*Add the browned mushroom back to the sauce, stir, and simmer for about 10-15 minutes.
*Serve over any type of noodles, though I enjoy it over quinoa for a healthier kick.