Ever since my mother-in-law bought a tub of caramelized onion hummus a few weeks ago, I have been fantasizing about caramelizing a big pot of them myself. But what to do with them? Soup seemed too predictable, and I had already overdosed on hummus for the week.
What came next was a delicious creation that melted in my mouth, made me go back for seconds (and thirds), and left a huge mess in my kitchen…
Caramelized Onion Mashed Potatoes & Vegan Gravy
Mashed Potato Ingredients:
4 small white or yellow onions (or 2 large onions)
8 medium potatoes (I used a blend of red and russet – 4 each)
2 tbsp Earth Balance (vegan butter)
1/2 cup almond milk
To Prepare: Let’s begin with the most important step – caramelizing the onions. You can use a mix of yellow and white onions – sweet varieties are best.
The key to getting caramelized onions (and not browned/burnt onions) is cooking them LOW and SLOW. Add a little olive oil and the diced onions to a Dutch oven, or other heavy-bottomed pot. Keep the heat on medium low – this is not the same as sautéing!
Once you add the onions, add a generous pinch of coarse salt (like kosher or sea salt). The salt helps bring the moisture out of the onions and releases all those yummy sugars. Keep the onions covered and cooking over low heat. Stir OFTEN so that they don’t stick to the bottom of the pan!
In 30 to 40 minutes, you should have beautiful brown super soft onions. This isn’t just a bad picture (okay it’s kind of bad), the onions should really be that color.
Since you have to wait 40 minutes for your onions to caramelize, that leaves plenty of time to get your potatoes ready. I used a blend of red and russet potatoes to give it a little more texture and flavor diversity.
I also like to leave the peels of my potatoes on, but if you don’t like the skins feel free to remove them at this point. Scrub the potatoes clean, and then chop them into quarters.
Add the quarters to a big pot and add enough cold water to cover the top of the potatoes by at least 1 inch. Add salt, cover, and bring the pot up to a boil – then simmer for 20-25 minutes or until very fork tender.
Here is a fun tip I learned in culinary school . When cooking vegetables, always start vegetables that grow UNDER the ground (like potatoes and carrots) in cold water, and add vegetables that grow ABOVE the ground (like broccoli and zucchini) to hot water!
When the potatoes are soft, drain the pot into a colander, and add the potatoes to your stand mixer bowl (or you can mash by hand if you are looking for an arm workout!).
Add the Earth Balance, almond milk, and a pinch of salt to the potatoes, and whisk until mashed. Scrape down the bowl a few times to make sure everything is well-combined.
You can add more or less almond milk depending on how creamy you like your potatoes. I personally like mine more “smashed” style, with a few lumps and lots of skins. Final step – add the caramelized onions and whisk another minute to combine!
Mashed potatoes alone are enough to get my heart rate racing, but the addition of the sugary onions took these to a new level. You can bet that this will be appearing on my Thanksgiving table…
But wait, there is more! What are mashed potatoes without GRAVY? Vegan gravy almost seems like an oxymoron, but I assure you it IS possible. It doesn’t taste exactly like traditional meat-based gravy (and why would it?), but it is a delicious compliment to these fluffy mashed potatoes.
To Prepare: No pictures from this part of the process because I was so busy whisking like a mad-woman, snapping pictures would have been impossible!
Start by sautéing the garlic on medium heat in a little bit of olive oil. If you want smooth gravy with no visible lumps (the little garlic bits), then skip this step and use garlic powder instead.
Once the garlic is browning, add the soy sauce and nutritional yeast. The key to smooth gravy is working QUICKLY – otherwise you will end up with gluey lumps.
Add the flour to the pot and immediately start whisking the mixture – it will clump and seem all wrong, but I promise you it is alright. You might need an extra hand at this point to hold your pot steady on the stove (mine slides all over my electric cook top).
As soon as you add the flour and start whisking, begin to slowly pour the water into the pot, while still continuing to whisk like a maniac. If you whisked hard enough, the mixture should be smooth by the time you’ve added all the water.
Bring the gravy up to a simmer, and let it thicken for a few minutes on the stove.
At this point you can add additional water if you prefer a thinner gravy, and you can finish seasoning with salt and pepper.
Pour over your mashed potatoes and ENJOY!
It’s hard to believe that a bowl this hearty and filling is also healthy and vegan.
I was so excited about this creation that I didn’t eat anything else for dinner. Just a big bowl of mashed potatoes and gravy.
Okay if I’m being honest, I went back for seconds twice, and actually ate three bowls of mashed potatoes for dinner. And then I felt like exploding.
And speaking of explosions, this one did a number on my kitchen too.
Between writing down the recipe, snapping photos of each step, and whisking until my arm fell off, my kitchen took quite a beating.