You may be wondering why I’m posting a recipe for vegan poutine in springtime, when most people are thinking about shedding the extra winter pounds and getting in shape for beach season. Poutine is a dish that certainly falls more on the I-need-comfort-and-warmth-so-I-can-hibernate-for-the-winter end of the spectrum, not really something that qualifies as light or healthy.
I’ve got poutine on the brain because this past weekend I visited the LIC Flea & Food with a dear friend of mine who also lives in the neighborhood. You see, this past winter I moved from Brooklyn, where I was spoiled with a wealth of vegan options at the amazing Smorgasburg in Prospect Park each weekend. Now that I’m in Long Island City, Smorgasburg is less convenient to get to, and I wanted to check out the local LIC Flea, which is a smaller collection of food and other vendors that runs every weekend during the spring and summer months.
I have to admit I was really disappointed by the dearth of vegan options at LIC Flea. There were a couple of vegan-friendly bites, but not much to choose from. So instead of being glum about it, my friend Valerie and I took it upon ourselves to go around asking the vendors about their vegan options, and whether they might consider adding any. You don’t get things if you don’t ask for them, right?
So as we were walking around, we came across a vendor named The Poutinerie. We were actually ogling a tantalizing dish of poutine that he had displayed, and hopefully asked if he had a vegan option available. He did not. But what was so nice was that we ended up having a long chat with Craig, the chef/owner, and he seemed genuinely interested and very open to creating a vegan option to add to his menu. Not a vegan himself (obviously), he explained that he just didn’t know how to make a vegan version without at least any dairy in it. I threw a few ideas out at him, and then I promised to send him a recipe for a vegan gravy to use. This is the recipe that I sent him. It’s a delicious, savory, earthy mushroom gravy with fresh herbs and a touch of red wine. We’ll go back next weekend and report back if this made it to the menu or not. 🙂
Craig’s version of poutine uses tater tots, so to stay consistent I also made mine with tater tots, although poutine usually has french fries as the base. My recipe below is just for the vegan mushroom gravy. To assemble your poutine, you can use either french fries or tater tots as your base – homemade or frozen. (Don’t pretend like you’re going to make your own homemade tater tots. Nobody does that.) To replace the cheese curds that are traditionally on poutine, I recommend using Daiya brand Mozzarella-style shreds, or you could crumble up their Monterey Jack, Smoked Gouda, or even their Jalapeno Havarti block cheeses. There are so many other fantastic vegan cheeses out there now, so use whatever you want. Whichever you choose, sprinkle it over the hot potatoes and warm in the oven for a few minutes until the cheese is nice and melty. Then top with the warm mushroom gravy, and devour. It’s so insanely good, you’ll want to eat this year-round, bikinis be damned.
Vegan Mushroom Gravy (perfect to top your Vegan Poutine, Mashed Potatoes, or anything else!)