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almond sweet potato biscuits + mushroom gravy


I went to a music festival in the south a few years ago and one of my main takeaways (actually) was how good the food was. I mean I had a really good time running around, dancing to whatever, not washing my hair, sharing an RV with 6 other people etc (actually!). But the food… it was surprising. I had packed a good amount of fruit and Larabars thinking the situation would be nutritionally inadequate. I’ve since learned that you should just bring a snack for the ride down and worry about food at the destination. Spontaneity! Making do! That’s travel. And it’s certainly a very healthy approach in its own right.

Anyway, so we were in Tennessee on this farm. It was crazy hot, dusty and muddy at the same time, people on all sides, music, drum circles, spontaneous yoga sessions, dancing, fountains, glow sticks, the whole thing. And there’s food trucks/stands everywhere just ready to serve up really awesome stuff–some of them locals, some travellers, some with the festival officially, just a potent mix of yums for real. Within 5 minutes of our little campsite, there was delicious, vegan french toast with bananas and maple syrup, fruit smoothies and fair trade espresso. On one bright morning, having just fetched my plate of morning awesomeness, I went in search of some pals. I caught up with one, also on a breakfast mission, and I um… got a bit grossed out.

He had a plate of biscuits with sausage gravy. Like white, meaty, greasy-ish gravy. In ridiculous, sweltering heat. Steaming hot, meaty, shortening-laden chunkiness on a biscuit. Seeing as I was in a high-and-mighty-on-health phase, I wasn’t feeling it (slash was totally appalled). My friend, however, was crazy about it. With a little space, I couldn’t help but think that the dish had a lot of potential as a concept though. Slightly sweet and rich biscuits with a hearty, herbed gravy on top, all piping hot with lots of fresh black pepper. I could (actually) be into that.

So here’s a plant-based version without gluten! These almond-based biscuits don’t rise terribly much so they’re ideal for smothering with hot gravy and herb-y mushrooms. They’re herbal, sweet and moist with a nice crust on the outside. Leftover biscuits? Cube them up, toss with a bit of oil and pepper and bake in the oven for 10 minutes and you have heavenly croutons for garnishing soups, mixing up with roasted root vegetables etc.


gluten free sweet potato biscuits with mushroom gravy
Adapted from Roost here and here
serves: 6 -8
special equipment: a blender is helpful but mashing with a fork/heavy stirring is an option
notes: If you’re buying stock, make sure you go for a no sodium variety. Ditto if you use canned beans. The miso adds so much (delicious) saltiness.

biscuits:
2.5 cups almond meal
1/2 tsp fine salt (I used Himalayan pink salt for fun)
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1-2 sprigs hearty herb (sage, rosemary, thyme), leaves removed and chopped
1/2 cup fully cooked sweet potato, mashed up
1/2 tsp ground chia or flax seeds
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp neutral oil (I used grape seed)
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp maple syrup

gravy + mushrooms:
3/4 cup cooked white beans
1.5 cups vegetable stock
juice of 1 lemon
1.5 tsp miso
1 tbsp almond butter
2 tbsp grape seed oil
5 cups sliced cremini mushrooms
3 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed and chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Make the biscuits: combine the almond flour, salt, pepper, baking soda, baking powder and chopped herb in a large bowl. Combine the mashed sweet potato, ground chia seeds, oil, vinegar and maple syrup in the container of a blender. Puree the mixture completely and pour into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Mix everything together until a dough forms/everything clumps together without being too sticky.

Lay a piece of parchment paper down on the counter and dust it with a finer gluten free flour (rice or chickpea flour). Scrape the dough from the bowl onto the parchment and flatten out slightly. Lay another piece of parchment on top and roll out the dough to about 1 inch thickness. Cut 3-4 inch rounds out of the dough with a biscuit cutter or rocks glass dipped in flour. Lay the rounds on the baking sheet, spaced about 1/2 inch apart (they don’t spread). Bake for 15 minutes or until well browned on the bottom. Remove from the oven and cool slightly.

Start the gravy: combine the beans, vegetable stock, lemon juice, miso and almond butter in the blender pitcher. Turn the motor onto high until mixture is pureed. Set aside.

Saute the mushrooms: heat oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and minced thyme with a few twists of black pepper. Flip/stir until mushrooms are soft and quite brown (do not add salt). Pour the bean and stock mixture into the pan. Give everything a stir. It should seem to reduce right away. Once hot, remove from the heat.

Place a warm biscuit on a plate and ladle about a cup of the mushroom/gravy mixture on top. Garnish with a few minced thyme leaves or black pepper.

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janet @ the taste space19/02/2012 - 11:44 am

This looks super scrumptious! I love your idea of turning them into croutons as leftovers. :)

Zita19/02/2012 - 1:26 pm

This is a wonderful dish! I love the flavours. I’m going to give it a try!

Sarah19/02/2012 - 1:50 pm

Amazing. Brilliant. Beautiful.

I want this right now.

Emma19/02/2012 - 3:06 pm

Yu-hum! Those pics are calling to me…great that you managed to veganize a dish so successfully too.
I’ve only had good experiences with festival food, despite being in the UK which is considerably less vegan-friendly on the whole than the US. Perhaps it depends on the music..I’m partial to the slightly alternative, hippie type festival :)

Sarah19/02/2012 - 10:45 pm

Laura! These are the majority of my favorite ingredients, all in one recipe. Gorgeous, too. Thanks!

Margarita20/02/2012 - 2:18 am

This is my kind of gravy!

Anna @ the shady pine20/02/2012 - 6:41 am

Those mushrooms look beautiful….will look forward to trying this dsh!

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar20/02/2012 - 8:28 am

I could eat an entire pot of those mushrooms. Awesome.

Dana20/02/2012 - 3:36 pm

These look amazing! I’ve always wanted to try biscuits and gravy but they usually seem disgusting…not these, though!

Just found your blog and it is wonderful!

http://woodstockwardrobe.com/

Jennifer (Delicieux)21/02/2012 - 3:16 am

Oh my, this looks so inviting and comforting. We call biscuits something different here in Australia (we call cookies biscuits) but your sweet potato biscuits look so delicious. I’m bookmarking this to try. Thanks for sharing.

sarah23/02/2012 - 4:57 pm

I used to be terrified of biscuits and gravy, but now love them! These look great – your pictures are so pretty.

Maria @ Scandifoodie24/02/2012 - 1:24 pm

Such a lovely vegan dish! I’ll have to try this, it’ll be perfect for our autumn in a couple of months’ time!

Brittany25/02/2012 - 10:05 am

I will never. never. get tired of sweet potato. thank you for coming up with this new way for me to devour it. now wishing it was easier to get ahold of ground flax in Paris… *sigh*

Kasey28/02/2012 - 2:18 am

I’m so happy I stumbled across your blog for so many reasons! First, I know what you mean about food and music going hand in hand. My husband and I write a site devoted to just that! Second, this dish sounds downright awesome. I can never say no to a good biscuit.

shannon09/03/2012 - 7:24 pm

Your description of Bonnaroo is spot on.

Jeff25/04/2012 - 7:55 pm

I made this tonight. It used sage. It was amazing. Very unique flavors. It was so rich that I only ate half a biscuit, but that a good thing. Good job with this one.

[...] from tip right: Sweet Potato Biscuits with Mushroom Gravy / Flourless Fudge Brownies / Blueberry Cereal Bars / Toasted Marshmallow Coconut Milk Ice Cream / [...]

[...] given you a miso-ish gravy recipe before (with mushrooms, white beans and SWEET POTATO BISCUITS, guh I know), but this version is a million [...]

[...] The First Mess Sweet Potato Biscuits – an adaptation from Roost, looks great as one of those rare vegan paleo baked goods! Vegan [...]

caitie18/01/2013 - 10:41 pm

I don’t usually write reviews but I just made the biscuits for dinner and used spelt flour instead since i was out of almond meal…but the end result- they are to die for!! I recommend this recipe to everyone. Thanks for the recipe!

Whitney22/03/2013 - 12:36 am

Ohh bonnaroo <3

Risa10/04/2013 - 10:17 pm

Hello!

Beyond the fact that your blog feels and looks like beautiful real perfection (every recipe is a creative homegrown saint!), I am head over heels for the plate shown in this post… might you know where it came from/if there are others to be had?

I would be forever in your debt!

best.

Risa

Laura Wright11/04/2013 - 9:21 am

Hi Risa! Thank you for your generous and lovely comment. I picked up the plate at a Canadian chain store called HomeSense. They have a constantly rotating and changing stock of items because they get ends and discontinued bits from major stores. It doesn’t even have a brand name or anything on the bottom of the plate! So sorry I couldn’t help you more on that.
-L

Anna25/07/2013 - 9:59 am

mmm these look sooo delicious, and i love how you’ve made the mushroom sauce with beans!! i always think cooked vegetables are the best way to thicken a sauce. i think i might try these with pumpkin instead of sweet potato lots of cinnamon instead of herbs… something sweet for breakfast? love this recipe, thanks.

Olivia02/08/2013 - 12:17 pm

I know I’m late to comment, but I have to say this has become one of my favorite meals. So good.

Laura Wright05/08/2013 - 8:25 pm

That’s great, Olivia. Love hearing about peeps cooking from the archives. Actually the best feeling :) Thanks!
-L

[…] up from The First Mess: Sweet Potato Almond Biscuits and Gravy. That will make it to our dinner table later this week. Her mushroom gravy sounds divine, but […]

[…] thefirstmess.com […]

a frequent conversation + a favourite snack


I’ve gotten into the same conversation a bunch of times about my preference for locally procured food. It goes in the predictable, but still challenging, direction every time. So what do you do in the Winter? This query is usually delivered in a “Ha! Gotcha.” kind of tone. Well… I always source the best hoop-housed, hydroponic or stored/cellared option I can find for the cooler months in my region. I preserve the bounty of summer, freeze what I can and rely on grains, beans, split peas etc a little more once the woolies are on. I start to miss broccoli though. And citrus, little spheres of sunshine from Florida and California that remind us of the spring to come. It’s just really hard to resist in its peak months. I also have an undying addiction to avocado. So what to do? I mix some imported items into my daily eats without any guilt whatsoever.

When the Ontario produce is on, I’m in there snatching up every last piece, leaf and trimming I can get. Whether from my own garden, the local grocer or  the farmer’s market, I choose locally-sourced items whenever possible. For nutritional completeness and overall culinary satisfaction, I mix in some imported goods while the snow falls. If I’m making a stew with stored Ontario onions, carrots, garlic,potatoes, heirloom beans, and canned summer tomatoes, I’m not going to feel terrible about stirring some American chard and minced thyme into the pot. Balance, consideration and flexibility is delicious in food, but also in life.

So with that, I give you one of my favourite snacks. Rustic, simple and highly adaptable to whatever greens are available/what you have leftover from last night’s supper. I make an olive tapenade with herbs and almonds to give it some body and a roast-y heartiness, slather it on crusty bread and top all of that with some super garlicky cooked greens and a little sprinkle of toasted almonds. Satisfying, salty, crunchy, mushy; only good things can come of this. You don’t have to actually make a tapenade either. A smear of ricotta or some dijon mustard is nice too.


garlicky greens bruschetta with olive & almond tapenade
serves: 2
notes: The bread is a pretty central ingredient here, so make sure your loaf comes from a bakery of good repute. Leftover cooked greens work wonderfully for this. Just give them a quick heat-up in the saute pan with a splash of water.

tapenade:
1 cup pitted olives (I went for kalamata)
1 clove of garlic, chopped a bit
1/3 cup almonds, toasted + extra chopped for garnish
5 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed
zest of 1 lemon (optional but fantastic)
ground black pepper
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

bruschetta:
4 slices of crusty bread
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 small cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
5-6 ounces spinach, roughly chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
pinch of chili flakes
salt and pepper
lemon wedges

Make the tapenade: combine all tapenade ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor. Pulse ingredients about 10 times to get everything chopped up. Put it on high and drizzle the oil in through the feed tube. Stop the machine, scrape down the sides and flip to high again. Mix until you have a smooth, uniform paste. Set aside.

Start toasting your bread. Heat the oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the cabbage and saute until slightly softened, about 3-4 minutes. Add the spinach. Saute until slightly wilted, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and chili flakes and season the mix with salt and pepper.Stir and toss around until spinach is wilted but still quite green. Remove from the heat.

Slather slices of toast with about 2 tbsp of tapenade each. Place a mound of cooked greens on top. Serve with lemon wedges either hot or at room temperature.

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Jen14/02/2012 - 12:10 am

I’m with ya. To bide my time, I’m ordering seeds and thinking summery thoughts!

Margarita14/02/2012 - 1:10 am

I try to be seasonal as much as possible, but sometimes there are things that are too good to pass on… Bananas, avocados, pineapple, mangoes, mushrooms, I buy them all without feeling guilty. Somewhere out there it is still business for other small time farmers. That’s how I like to think of it.

Meaghan15/02/2012 - 4:28 pm

I love your recipes! I am a big fan on food gawker. Do you have a google +? I run a google + that distributes food articles and recipes. I would love to start sharing your stuff right from google +!!

kels16/02/2012 - 1:20 am

love olive tapenade. oh yes. only GREAT things can come of this :)

Anna @ the shady pine16/02/2012 - 7:08 am

What a perfect lunch this would be….anything with olives has me won over!

adrienne22/02/2012 - 9:47 pm

I follow along the same philosophy when it comes to local food in the winter months. I love this snack!

[...] Garlicky Greens Bruschetta with Olive Tapenade by The First Mess  [...]

roasted tofu and kale with pine nuts + delicious surprises


Inspiration and big change is always floating around in the back of the mind, in the atmosphere, everywhere really. Like an iceberg that looks so small and unassuming on the surface of dark water, there’s a giant waiting to be seen underneath. It is impressive, surprising; its potential builds up over weeks and months. Maybe even years. Just waiting and growing.

…I saw roasted kale on a menu recently and was kind of taken aback at first. I thought it would be weird, nonsensical, all that; even though I absolutely love kale in any form I’ve tried. So I tinkered with it at home out of curiosity. Wow. Really good. Surprising. That reaction and the whole lead-up to it kind of summarizes life right now, lots of delicious surprises. They were kind of there all along in whispers and hums, developing and getting bigger and louder and then whoa. Right there. Hello.

Other than that, not much else to chat about. I just received Bryant Terry’s fantastic new book and was feeling so inspired flipping through the pages and looking at the gorgeous photos. I remembered a technique I learned from his first book Vegan Soul Kitchen for roasting tofu. I was so thrilled to see a new rendition in The Inspired Vegan. So here’s my take for you to play with and be inspired by (hopefully). Big hugs :)

chili, lemon and herb roasted tofu with kale and pine nuts
inspired by Bryant Terry
serves: 2
notes: I make this dish all on one sheet pan. Choose one thats big enough to accommodate everything and just add the components as time winds down. Also, any strong spice or flavour would be great here, this dish is pretty open to interpretation.

1 lemon, zest and juice
1 garlic clove, sliced
1 tsp red chili flakes
2 sprigs rosemary, leaves removed and chopped
4 sprigs thyme, leaves removed and chopped
salt and pepper
3 tbsp grapeseed oil
1 package (227g) organic firm to extra firm tofu, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 bunch kale, leaves removed and torn into 1.5 inch-ish pieces
small handful of pine nuts

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper.

Combine the lemon zest, sliced garlic, chili flakes, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper in the bowl of a mortar and pestle. Grind it up until a dry paste is achieved. Add the lemon juice and oil and grind until mixture is unified.

Pour about half of the oil and lemon juice mixture into a large bowl. Toss it with the cubes of tofu very gently. Place onto  the parchment-lined baking sheet in one tight section. Roast for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and gently toss the tofu cubes with a fork or spatula. Place back in the oven and roast for another 10 minutes.

Toss the kale with the remaining oil and lemon juice mixture in the large bowl. Remove the tofu from the oven and place the kale on most of the remaining space of the tray. Roast for 10 more minutes. Place pine nuts on the tray and roast for another 2-3 minutes, until tofu is quite browned, kale has wilted and crisped a bit and the pine nuts are golden.

Serve hot or at room temperature.

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dana @ my little celebration09/02/2012 - 8:55 pm

I WILL be making this as I just picked up some tofu at TJ’s. Lovely!

Jacqui09/02/2012 - 11:12 pm

I’ve never thought to roast kale either! Sound absolutely delicious! I’ll definitely be trying this soon.

Michelle10/02/2012 - 12:26 am

Looks delicious lady! Totally my kind of meal on top of some brown rice!

Question: If one doesn’t have a mortar and pestle….what does one do?

Laura10/02/2012 - 6:40 am

Michelle, If you’re feeling lazy, blend it all. If not, just chop the herbs, garlic, zest etc all fine and stir it into the lemon juice and oil :)

Margarita10/02/2012 - 8:22 pm

Love all these ingredients… Never thought of using lemon to flavor tofu… So good!

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar11/02/2012 - 12:07 am

I need this. For reals.

Judy12/02/2012 - 10:26 pm

oh wow this is beautiful.. I love tofu and am glad that everybody’s starting to get into it. There are just so many ways to spice up this wonderful treat and this chilli lemon recipe is awesome! Now only if I can get kale….

Love love love Bryant Terry! Just ate his creamy grits & tempeh last night for dinner. : ) (This looks amazing, ps.)

Diane16/03/2012 - 1:05 pm

I made this and will be remaking it for my daughter who is visiting this week. The kale is absolutely wonderful, the tofu delecious and the pine nuts were just another layer of flavor. Also easy to make once you get through the first part. This is definitely something I will be adding to favorite recipes.

[...] From The First Mess [...]

Elizabeth (Greens & Seeds)05/05/2012 - 8:47 pm

Roasting the entire meal on one baking sheet? Brilliant!

[...] for easy prep and clean up. I wish this brilliant idea was my own, but I first read about it on The First Mess. She roasts kale with the tofu, uses a different flavor profile all together, and credits Bryant [...]

[...] Preheat the grill to medium-high. Place the tofu pieces onto the grill. Wait for about 2 minutes or until good char marks appear. Flip the pieces over. Cook until char marks appear on the reverse and tofu is browned to your liking. Remove from the grill and set aside. Don’t have a grill? You can always roast it. [...]

Meg26/09/2012 - 9:20 pm

I just wanted to say that I had been eyeing this recipe for sometime. Finally made it this evening, and it was the perfect combination of flavors. The only change was that I added half the kale for 10 minutes and the other half for 5 minutes so there was a nice mix of crispy and soft kale. Delicious!

Katie (The Muffin Myth)03/10/2012 - 10:51 am

You know, I had some kale in my hands yesterday (which is *extremely* tough to find in Sweden) and I was going to toss it in the oven along side a spaghetti squash I was roasting, but I thought, nah, roasted kale? That sounds crazy. Now I’ll definitely come back to it. The tofu looks great as well! Thanks for the recipe.

[...] Spice Kale & Tofu Recipe (inspired by The First Mess) [...]

Reesa19/10/2012 - 1:57 pm

How am I just finding your website now?! Shame on me. I’d better get moving through the archives stat… there are so many wonderful things to try!

[...] and roasted kale adapted from The First Mess. The rest is from my [...]

Reeve13/08/2013 - 10:44 am

Oh man, this sounds good! QUick question though, do you press the tofu first for this recipe? My gut says yet, but I’ve never roasted tofu so I thought I would ask.

Laura Wright13/08/2013 - 11:07 am

Hi Reeve! You can if you want, but I don’t think it’s necessary. The high heat of the roasting takes most of the moisture away. Super easy! :)
-L

[…] or raw (teach yourself to make baked tofu and never have a boring salad […]

Yeeeeaaah!! Roasted foo is da bomb!