Rich Spring Onion {Scallion} Gravy + 10 Ways To Use It

spring-onion-scallion-gravy food to glowGravy is to mashed potatoes what icing is to cake. Or syrup is to waffles. It closes the circle. Makes each complete. The potatoes, cake or waffles may be fine on their own, or a bit ‘so what’ and tolerable. But with the addition of said adornment, potato/cake/waffle are elevated. They may not have been much to start with, variously lumpy, dry or with freezer burn, but anointed with the right stuff, ‘meh’ can easily became ‘mmm’.

Mashed potato and gravy is what my husband calls food of the gods (not just one god – all of them). I may be a bit hasty in my assumption, but I think many men and not just a few woman feel thusly. We see it on a menu and – at least the females – hem and haw whether or not to choose it. Maybe I should have the boiled baby potato option, or the steamed broccoli? Even if you choose the other options, in your heart you wanted that bowl of mash and gravy, didn’t you? But when you do get it – at least in your average restaurant – gravy can often be a big beige puddle of congealing disappointment. How can gravy go so wrong? In a word, umami. Or lack of it.

If you have a meat-based gravy you are already there. Umami built right in. Umami, the fifth taste that food experts blather on about, is a unique and difficult to describe (but you know it’s there) “savoury taste imparted by glutamate and five ribonucleotides, including insinuate and guanylate, which occur naturally in many foods, including meat, fish, vegetables and dairy products.” (from foodchannel.com).

All I know is that I crave it. Wild mushrooms, Parmesan cheese, soy sauce and ketchup are well-known for their umami-imparting qualities. Fan of all of them.

marmite by food to glow

love it or hate it, Marmite is key to a great vegetarian gravy

And so too is Marmite – yeast extract. Love it or hate it, it is a quintessential umami taste beloved of many Brits and British ex-pats. And now me, an ex-pat American. Used mainly to spread on hot, buttered toast or crumpets, yeast extract is absolutely vital for a flavourful vegetable-based gravy. You can chuck all of the hand-reared or lovingly purchased vegetables you want into a pan; slow-sweat them into sweet, melting submission; but without a dash of Marmite, or soy sauce, you will never have what the pleasure-centres in your brain are searching for.

Basically a good vegetarian gravy is the legal high of the food world. It fires up those neurons (or whatever) that says I want more of that. And then some more. And can you just let me pour that whole gravy boat into my mouth. Please.

There are loads of great vegetarian gravy recipes out there. Some with mushrooms, many with brown onions, some with just the full-tilt umami of soy sauce and nutritional yeast flakes. This one is mine. It is a great one for highlighting those perky and spring-fresh spring onions that are coming into their own just now. Perfect for the Easter table, Thanksgiving – any time that there are carbohydrates being celebrated.

spring-onion-scallion-gravy food to glowHere are 10 ways you can use this – or any – gravy:

1. A cheat’s mushroom stroganoff – stir up with sour cream/Quark/Tofutti, parsley and sautéed mushrooms; serve with buttered noodles or wild & brown rice

2. A saucy Chinese stir-fry – add in as you would a pour-in sauce, having first mixed with a little rice vinegar and five-spice powder

3. Rich, umami-licious soups, especially bean and vegetable ones (cabbage soup with added gravy is terrific)

4. Easy veggie pot pies – mix with lightly cooked vegetables and pour into individual baking dishes, top with pastry, mashed potato or even leftover Christmas/Thanksgiving stuffing and bake. It’s useful for flavouring veggie shepherd’s pie (shepherdess) and cottage pies – all savoury pies!

5. Veggie meatballs, gravy and rice or crusty bread

6. Poutine – not a recommendation, just an acknowledgement of fact! Ah, you Canadians. So like the Scots.🙂

7. A savoury crumble – mix the gravy with cashew cream or soft cheese and pour in an oiled baking dish. Top with coarse bread crumbs that have been mixed with butter or olive oil, plus some chunky nuts/seeds and chopped herbs. Bake and dive in!

8. Savoury bread pudding – mix gravy with beaten egg and pour over cubed stale bread. Let it soak in for an hour (press lightly to hasten the absorption) then bake until puffy and golden in places. Obviosuly eat this with LOADS of green veg.

9. Over waffles. With of without a bit of fried chicken. (again, not a food to glow recom; just being honest)

10. And of course, over mashed potatoes or any gorgeous but plain starchy carb (like bread) that you fancy. Or a savoury vegetable cake like this.

And a bonus idea – freeze it for another day!

spring-onion-scallion-gravy food to glow

Spring Onion {Scallion} Gravy

  • Servings: 1 1/2 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Gravy needs no introduction. It’s always useful, always welcome. Make more than you need. But I didn’t need to tell you that, now did I?

2 tbsp olive oil (not anything fancy)

1 large bunch of spring onions/scallions, trimmed lightly and chopped

Pinch of salt

1 bay leaf

1 ½ tbsp. cornflour/cornstarch/tapioca/arrowroot powder (put this in a small cup)*

450ml (2 cups) light vegetable stock

2 tsp Marmite or other yeast extract (failing that, why not try Maggi liquid seasoning or even red miso – not tried either here though)

Pepper, to taste

Soy sauce, to taste

1. Heat the onion in a skillet and slowly sauté the chopped spring onions with a little salt and the bay leaf, covered, for half an hour to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. You want the heat on low as you just want the onions to sweat rather than colour. A little colour is fine, but just don’t burn!spring onions by food to glowspring-onion-scallion-gravy food to glow

2. Add a little cold water to the cornflour and stir until it is dissolved; pour onto the spring onions, along with the stock and the yeast extract. Bring to a simmer and let it bubble gently for 10 minutes to thicken. Taste and adjust as you see fit – adding more Marmite, or even a splash or two of soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce.

3. Pour the gravy into a sieve and over a clean saucepan. Reheat gently and serve with anything!

* here is a link to all you need to know about thickening any gravy.

NOTE: 10 fab serving suggestions are given above the recipe.

gravy and savoury vegetable cake by food to glow

spring onion gravy and savoury vegetable cake by food to glow

 And for all of you Marmite fans – and not – here are some ‘fun facts’ about Marmite (I love number 4).