One of the first things you learn in culinary school, or in any professional kitchen worth its salt, is how to make the five classic French “Mother Sauces.” I am a sucker for these sauces, with my favorite being the béchamel. This white sauce is versatile and can be used in various pasta dishes or as a drizzle over roasted vegetables. It also serves as a base for my other favorite sauce, the Mornay, aka the béchamel sauce plus cheese. I love a good vegan fondue. But enough about the white sauces. We are here to talk about the classic brown sauces, and my friends, this is a labor of love.
Sauce Espagnole and demi-glace are both rich brown sauces, but the latter derives from the first. After a Sauce Espagnole has been made, it can easily be used in a 1:1 ratio with brown stock, then reduced by half and finished with wine—resulting in an intensely flavored demi-glace sauce. It can be stirred into soups, stews, and risottos.
A demi-glace is a brown stock reduced by prolonged simmering combined with an Espagnole sauce or one of the five classic mother sauces of French cuisine. A classic demi-glace is made with veal, but beef and poultry is sometimes used. But we are using a combination of hearty vegetables! The “demi,” meaning half, signifies that the reduced stock (glace) is combined with the Espagnole sauce in a half-and-half ratio.
You can use whatever you have on hand—provided you combine sweet vegetables with more savory plants for balance. Use too much of the sweet stuff, and the demi could become way too sweet and syrupy.
1 head garlic, sliced in half (don’t worry about peeling)
1 lemon, washed and sliced in half width-wise
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp whole peppercorns
6 cups water
1/2 cup dry red wine (sherry or cabernet is preferred)
Toss vegetables and peppercorns in a large bowl with tomato paste, coating well. Oil bottom of pan—this step is optional but will prevent sticking. Transfer to a deep hotel pan or other deep (at least 4″ oven safe pan. Place vegetables in the oven and roast for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Check your veggies every 20 minutes or so, stirring and rotating as needed to prevent edges from burning.
After roasting remove from oven. Add wine, scraping any brown bits. These caramelized morsels of concentrated juice, called the fond—literally, the foundation—will enrich the stock from the bottom of the pan. Carefully, add 6 cups water to vegetables and return to oven for 30 to 40 minutes.
Strain the stock through a sieve into another pot, pressing the vegetables with the back of a ladle to extract all the juices.
Over high heat, combine 1 part Espagnole to 1 part Vegetable stock, boil for 10 minutes or until reduced by half, stirring occasionally.
Sauce Espagnole is a basic brown sauce, and is one of Auguste Escoffier’s five mother sauces of classic French cooking. Typically made from stock, mirepoix, and tomatoes, and thickened with roux. This easy and basic brown sauce can be used as a base for other French sauces.
According to Alan Davidson, in The Oxford Companion to Food, “The name has nothing to do with Spain, any more than the counterpart term “allemande” has anything to do with Germany. It is generally believed that the terms were chosen because, in French eyes, Germans have blonde hair and Spaniards have brown hair.”
It is also easy to freeze and use as needed! This simple recipe is an adaptation of the great Thomas Keller.
Basic brown sauce that can be used in a variety of ways.
¼ cup diced carrots
½ cup diced onions
½ stick unsalted butter
¼ cup all-purpose flour
4 cups hot vegetable stock
¼ cup canned tomato purée
2 large garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup diced celery
¼ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
In a heavy-bottom saucepan set over medium heat, cook the carrots and onion in the butter with a pinch of salt, stirring occasionally, until softened, 6 to 7 minutes.
Reduce the heat to low, add the flour, and cook the roux, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until golden brown in color, 6 to 10 minutes.
Using a whisk, add the hot stock in a fast stream, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Add the tomato purée, garlic, celery, peppercorns, and bay leaf.
Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring often to make sure the bottom doesn’t scorch. Reduced the liquid by about one-third, until sauce coats the back of a spoon, about 35 to 40 minutes.
Pour sauce through a sieve into a bowl, discarding solids.
One of my favorite sauces is Bolognese. It’s simple, delicious, and reminds me of one of my favorite meals growing up. This meat-free version is made from ground mushrooms and is ready in about 30 minutes.
In a food processor, pulse the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, and mushrooms until finely chopped. In a large pan warmed over medium heat, add oil, or 2 Tbsp water, if not using oil. Add the vegetables, season with basil, oregano, and cook over moderate heat until softened, 20 minutes. Add 1 Tbsp of water, or stock, as needed, to prevent sticking.
Add the wine, salt, and red pepper; and stir. Cook until the wine evaporates. About 3-4 minutes.
Add the cream, rosemary, and 1/4 cup of grated vegan cheese and simmer for 5 minutes.
At this point, you can either add warm pasta, and 1 cup of water to the sauce and toss, stirring until the pasta is well-coated, or stuff shells and top with remaining creme sauce. Serve.
This is one of the best béchamel sauces in the whole entire world. Who says you need dairy to make a good sauce? Not me! Besides, this is way better than ANY dairy-based sauces I’ve had. It’s easy and delicious, and makes enough to have leftovers to freeze! Yep, you can freeze this bad boy! What’s better than satisfying a craving for a Creamy Mushroom Alfredo (it’s a “thing” for me) and knowing that all you have to do is sauté some mushrooms while waiting for your pasta to boil! Grocery store Alfredo sauces be damned!
This versatile little sauce can be used in a variety of ways! I use it as a base for corn chowder, in my eggplant lasagna, in a delicious Pasta Con Broccoli, as a drizzle over roasted veggies, and I use it to make a hearty delicious vegetable pot pie! This, my friends, is the real deal.
I love this recipe. It makes enough that I can use half, and then I freeze the other half.
Step 1: Preparing the Cashews
• 2 cups raw cashews
• 4 to 6 cups warm water
In a medium bowl, soak the cashews in water for 3 to 4 hours to soften. Strain, reserving the cashews and discarding the liquid.
Step 2: Preparing the Sauce
• 1 cup onion, diced • 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast • 2 cloves garlic • 1 tsp onion powder • 1 tsp garlic powder • Pinch of white pepper (Can use black pepper in a pinch) 😉 • 1 tsp sea salt (optional, but I recommend)
Add drained cashews and remaining ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. This may take several minutes.
Taste for seasoning.
At this point you can add to a pasta, or freeze. * See note.
When you are cooking with cashews it is important to note that they will thicken as they cook. If you find your sauce is too thick, add additional water/stock one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is achieved.
If freezing add to freezer safe container. Freezer safe for up to 6 months.
When I began my plant-based journey, one of the first things I needed to find was a good Ranch Dressing. I know, I know… But I’d be lying if I denied my love for Hidden Valley! However, consuming pus laden cow’s milk is gross. And artificial ingredients like Calcium Disodium EDTA, and other nasty fake things like maltodextrin, and monosodium glutamate are not even an option. I had tried many recipes, but was never fully satisfied. So I finally decided to create my own. This Ranch is delicious and has impressed even my most diehard dairy loving peeps!
1 cup vegan mayo (I like Just Mayo)
2 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar (I use Bragg’s with the mother-shaken well)
1 Tbsp Dried Parsley
1 Tbsp Dried Dill
1 tsp Black Pepper
½ tsp Salt
½ tsp Onion Powder
½ tsp Garlic Powder
Mix all ingredients together and use enough water to thin to desired consistency. Let sit in the fridge for a few hours so the flavors can develop. Keep refrigerated for up to 3 weeks.