Friday, October 14, 2011

Lentil Gravy

I'm fascinated by vintage WWII cookbooks and recipes. First, because the recipes are usually quite cheap to make; and second, many of them are by default, vegan, or "almost" vegan.

The product of desperate and creative housewives who needed to feed their families affordable and filling meals, despite the fact that milk, butter and meat were very limited, and "rationed" during war time; I think a lot can be learned from their ingenuity and frugal tricks.

This recipe is most likely from that era; one I found on a yellowed card in my Grandmother's handwriting in my Mom's recipe box. I asked my Mom about it, and she said "I think I remember Mother making it when we were kids, she couldn't always get certain ingredients".

Of course it intrigued me and I decided to try it for myself. The (vegan-ized) results were quite tasty and have become a popular part of our gravy collection.

As a side note, I've discovered I really like this recipe made with the Green Lentils from Timeless Foods. I received a combo package from them some time back and am ABSOLUTELY in love with their products. If you ever want to try amazingly tasty (and organic) "gourmet" lentils and grains, I can't recommend them enough, seriously better than any other lentils I've tried (and I grew up on the stuff!). Even the green lentils cook up pretty brown, you won't have green gravy, don't worry.
This recipe is a great way to use up leftovers too, if you have any.

That said, let's start with my Grandmother's original recipe:
Lentill Gravy

Heat one cup of water (or for special meals, use milk or cream if affordable). Add a cupful of cooked, seasoned, soft lentills which have been rubbed through a sieve to remove skins.
Add pinch of salt and pepper.
Stir while heating.
Once mixture is boiling, thicken with a teaspoonful of flour rubbed smooth in a little cold milk.
Serve hot on nicely boiled potatoes, rice, or well cooked macaroni.
Basic, cheap and nutritious food, right?
Well, here's my veganized version, based on the above. I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk as it works well in ALL my gravy recipes, and the mild coconut flavor especially compliments the lentils here. Obviously, this recipe will work just fine with any lentils and plant milk you might have on hand:

Lentil Gravy
  • 2 cups So Delicious Coconut Milk (Unsweetened!) or any plant milk, divided
  • 1 cup soft cooked Green or regular brown lentils, seasoned or plain (I usually cook onion and herbs with my lentils.)
  • 2 Tablespoon flour + 3 Tablespoons cold water
  • pinch salt, pepper and sage

Blend lentils with 1 cup milk in the blender or food processor until very smooth. (Or if you want, you can try "rubbing them through a sieve" like my Grandmother suggests.
Yes. I tried it. It takes FOREVER and makes a big mess, but the end result is, indeed, a VERY smooth puree. Do what you want.)
Heat remaining 1 cup milk in your trusty cast iron (or any large) skillet.
Add lentil puree.
Heat over medium, stirring frequently to make sure the mixture doesn't scorch.
Raise heat just enough to bring mixture to boil.
Stir in the flour-water mixture and boil until mixture thickens, whisking constantly.
Remove from heat.
Taste and add salt, pepper and sage as needed (depending on how much seasoning the lentils had to begin with).

We LOVE this gravy over rice or a hearty, homemade wheat toast.


JohnP said...

Love it!

Gail for So Delicious Dairy Free said...

Lentil gravy? YUM! Thanks so much for sharing the recipe, Marti! I cannot wait to try it! I think it's going to be perfect for Thanksgiving dinner!

Ashley Hunt said...

Love this idea! Way to go! So creative ;)