This is my most favourite recipe of all time. It's practically a staple in our house and it is nutritionally complete when eaten with brown rice, legumes, and something green. (Well isn't everything?) Really budget friendly, so you can frugally feed a bunch of people, and super easy to do. Yay super easy!
4 cups full-flavored vegetable STOCK, not broth!
1 whole head garlic, unpeeled
1 carrot, halved (don't bother peeling it)
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon coarsely cracked black peppercorns
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons butter or margarine or olive oil (I use Land O' Lakes unsalted butter)
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Black eyed peas, the edible kind
1. Combine the stock, garlic, carrot, onion, bay leaf, and cracked peppercorns in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to a low simmer, and simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes. While stock is simmering, make brown rice and begin cooking black eyed peas. At the end of 45 minutes, poke your garlic with a skewer or knife to see that is soft. Or, if you have one around, you can ask a teenage boy to squeeze it for you because it won't dawn on him that it's really hot and then you can get mom points for teaching a life lesson about touching hot stuff.
2. Pour the stock through a strainer, reserving the stock and the whole cooked garlic. Discard the onion and bay leaf. Eat molten hot carrot because it is delicious and make sure teenage boy doesn't see you do it. At the end of this step I usually end up with about 2-3 cups of stock.
3. When the garlic is cool enough to handle, cut the end off the garlic bulb and squeeze the soft garlic cloves out of their skins directly into the strained stock. They should be all mushy. Whisk in the nutritional yeast and paprika and reheat over low heat.
4. Time to make a roux! Melt the butter over medium-low heat in a skillet and cook it gently for 2 to 3 minutes, or until it is bubbly. Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring almost constantly, until the flour paste browns slightly, 3 to 4 minutes. In a steady stream slowly pour in the hot strained stock, whisking constantly. Do it slowly or it'll get lumpy and funky. Sometimes you'll have more stock than needed but just eye-ball it. Simmer gently until very hot and thickened, about 12 minutes. If you want a thicker gravy, cook it just a little longer. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Your rice and beans should be finished so pile all of it together in a bowl and enjoy! It's really good if you also add cooked collard greens or wilted spinach, but I didn't have either so asparagus tonight. Yummo!