Vegan Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

I started cooking Thanksgiving dinner for my family when I was a teenager. I know that sounds impressive, and that's because it is. #humble

If you don't want to read my ramblings about Thanksgiving, just check out the recipe video here

The reason I started preparing Thanksgiving at home was because I had a truly awful Thanksgiving dinner at a family member's house and I vowed that I would never let this kind of injustice happen again. I mean, the host served mango pie instead of pumpkin pie! I know I'm Indian and Indians loooove mangos, but if there's one time of year that I enjoy being all traditional and old-fashioned, it's Thanksgiving. Serve me mango pie in the summer! Or any other day besides the fourth Thursday of November, a day on which I don a fat suit and come ready to gorge myself. 

For the last 15 or so years, I've tried out a bunch of new recipes every Thanksgiving, but I always, always always made the same mashed potatoes. Creamy red-skinned potatoes with a not-so-healthy heap of butter, milk, sour cream and parmesan cheese. That's because my family absolutely loved this bowl of heart disease, and I couldn't fight their insistent urging that I make them at least once a year (okay, twice a year).  

After I became vegan, I faced quite a dilemma. My family really wanted the traditional mashed potatoes and threatened to disown me if I didn't make them. J/k, my family isn't cruel. But I did need to come up with an equally delicious and decadent recipe for mashed potatoes. 

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Enter this recipe. I served these to my mom last week when she was visiting me and she couldn't tell the difference between the old artery-clogging potatoes and this healthy-ish vegan version. Well, actually she could tell the difference because she knows I'm vegan and cook only vegan food, but the fact that she polished off three bowls of these creamy potatoes indicated otherwise. 

And for the gravy... I actually never used to like gravy. The mysterious brown substance reminded me of a liquified version of horse shit (sorry, not sorry). And the fact that it was made with animal fat grossed me out. But, then I realized that gravy made out of vegetables and delicious umami-packed ingredients like miso and mushrooms makes for the best kind of gravy. 

I think you'll love this indulgent recipe for mashed potatoes and gravy and I hope you give a try this holiday season (or any time of the year)! 

Vegan Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

Vegan, Gluten-Free

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds red-skinned potatoes 
  • 1/3 vegan Earth Balance butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup raw cashews, soaked for 4 hours
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 2 teaspoon sea salt, divided + additional salt for cashew cream*
  • Freshly cracked black pepper 
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil 
  • Chives, sliced (for garnish) 

*Sea salt tastes less salty than table salt, so if you use the latter, use less salt and taste as you go

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. To roast the garlic, slice off the top of the head to expose the skin of the cloves and rub the exposed cloves with olive oil. Wrap the entire head of garlic in foil and place directly on a rack in the preheated oven.  Roast for 35-40 minutes until garlic cloves are soft and easily squeeze out. You won't need all of the garlic. 
  3. Place potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with cold water and a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil and cook potatoes for 30-40 minutes until fork tender. Drain potatoes.  
  4. To make the cashew cream, drain the soaked cashews. Add them to a food processor or high-speed blender (such as a Vitamix), along with the vegetable broth, nutritional yeast and a generous pinch of sea salt and pepper. Blend for a 1-2 minutes until cashews are completely broken down and you have a creamy, smooth sauce.
  5. Using an electric mixer on low speed, break up the drained potatoes for 10-20 seconds until they start to break up.
  6. Then add in the melted vegan butter, cashew cream, 1/4 - 1/2 of the roasted garlic (depending on how garlicky you like it), 1 teaspoon sea salt and black pepper and mix on low until the ingredients begin to come together.  
  7. Towards the end, switch to a wooden spoon and finish incorporating the ingredients. Taste for salt and pepper. Garnish with chives. 

Mushroom Gravy

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup chopped shallots (approximately 2-3 shallots)
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil  
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces Shiitake mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt + more 
  • Freshly cracked black pepper 
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 2 tablespoons spicy red wine (I used a Syrah)
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon gluten-free soy sauce 
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch (or arrowroot powder) 
  • 2 tablespoons plant-based milk
  • 1 tablespoon miso paste 

Directions

  1. In a non-stick skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat and cook the diced shallots until they are translucent and lightly browned, about 3-5 minutes. 
  2. Add the mushrooms and a generous pinch of salt and pepper, and cook for another 8-10 minutes until they release their liquid and become tender. You may need to add a few tablespoons of water to prevent the mushrooms from burning.
  3. While mushrooms are cooking, whisk together the nutritional yeast, cornstarch or arrowroot powder and plant-based milk until you have a thick paste. 
  4. Add the minced garlic, thyme and rosemary and stir for a minute until fragrant. Then add the red wine, vegetable broth and soy sauce, whisking constantly and bring to a boil.   
  5. Add the nutritional yeast paste to the pan, whisking constantly to make sure it dissolves. Then add in the miso paste and continue stirring constantly for a few minutes until the gravy is thick and flavors have melded together.
  6. Finish with salt and pepper to taste.