Thanksgiving Traditions: Litsa Varonis’ vegan gravy

The Varonis family of North Canton was practicing the Mediterranean diet before it was popular. “Since there are many fast days in the Greek Orthodox church that mean abstaining from meat—or meat, fish and dairy—cooking ‘vegan’ is nothing new,” said Litsa Varonis.

The Varonis family of North Canton was practicing the Mediterranean diet before it was popular. “Since there are many fast days in the Greek Orthodox church that mean abstaining from meat—or meat, fish and dairy—cooking ‘vegan’ is nothing new,” said Litsa Varonis.

Varonis’ husband, Orestes, and her kids, Maria and Yianni, practice an all-the-time vegetarian diet, but she said the family still has a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, bird and all.

“Last year, we served three kinds of turkey—traditional oven-roasted; a Tofurkey brand soy turkey and a Quorn brand soy-free option,” said Maria Varonis.

“Last year, we served three kinds of turkey—traditional oven-roasted; a Tofurkey brand soy turkey and a Quorn brand soy-free option.”

But side dishes, such as vegan gravy, Greek salad, spanakopita and grape leaves, round out the Varonis’ Greek Thanksgiving dinner.

Maria Varonis said the family’s vegan gravy is “tangy and super delicious,” with just the right amount of acid to cut the creamy potatoes or heavier dishes, such as the stuffing and meat. Litsa Varonis said her version is traditional with a twist.

“Traditionally, you add volume with chicken broth and turkey drippings, but I had to innovate so that the vegetarians at the table could still pour it over their mashed potatoes, stuffing and tofurkey,” Litsa Varonis said.

RECIPE

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
7 tablespoons unbleached white flour
30 ounces vegetable broth
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 teaspoons Heinz 57
1 teaspoon A1 steak sauce
1/2 cup wine (red)
ground pepper
sage
dash of garlic

Melt 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter and stir in 7 tablespoons of unbleached white flour and stir constantly to make a roux. Add about 30 ounces of vegetable broth. Stir in 2 tablespoons of ketchup. Add 2 teaspoons of Heinz 57. Add 1 teaspoon of A1 steak sauce. Add 1/2 cup of wine. They use red, but white would also work. Add spices to taste: ground pepper, sage and a dash of garlic.