Cornmeal Biscuits with Tomato Gravy
A few months ago someone tweeted a question to me about tomato gravy, which I hadn't made before — but it sounded like something that had to be delicious. Tomato gravy is a Southern dish, something that grannies may have made during the winter with their canned tomatoes and a splash of cream to brighten up a grey day. I recently made a version on The Chew, Cheddar Grits Soufflé with Tomato Gravy, which you could serve at any fancy dinner party to really impress your guests.
Today I've created a vegan twist — yes, I said vegan — with a light and flaky cornmeal biscuit with a tomato gravy that gets its creaminess from coconut oil and almond milk. Whip this up for lunch or a light dinner — you can serve it on its own or split the biscuit and stuff it with garlicky sautéed greens for an extra punch of nutrition and flavor — and I guarantee no one will ever know you made it without butter and cream!
Makes 8 2-1/2" biscuits
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for shaping the dough
1/4 cup cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
5 tablespoons cold coconut oil
3/4 cup cold unsweetened almond milk
Non-stick cooking spray
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar, salt, and baking soda. Add the coconut oil and press it down into the flour mixture until completely coated, then rub it through your fingers to form small, pea-sized pieces. Chill the mixture in the bowl in the freezer for 15 minutes.
Add the almond milk into the flour mixture a little bit at a time until there are no bits of dry flour left — you may not need to use it all. The dough should be slightly sticky, but not wet.
Coat the work surface with the cooking spray and then flour (the spray helps keep the flour in place). Transfer the dough to the work surface and dust lightly with flour on both sides, then pat the dough gently into a circle. Roll with a rolling pin to 1-inch thickness, then cut out the biscuits with a 2-1/2" round cutter. Flip the rounds over so that the smooth sides that were flat against the work surface are now face up, then place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, spaced one inch apart. Chill the biscuits until ready to bake.
Preheat the oven to 450°.
Bake the biscuits until the tops are golden and crisp, about 12 - 15 minutes, checking on them occasionally to make sure they don't overbake. Make the Tomato Gravy while the biscuits are baking.
When the biscuits are done, transfer the pan to a wire rack and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.
Makes about 2 cups
1 large tablespoon coconut oil
1 small onion, diced
1 heaping tablespoon flour
1 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Melt the coconut oil in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat and add the diced onion. Cook, stirring frequently, until onion begins to soften and become translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the flour and stir well until all the onion is coated. Add the crushed tomatoes and stir well, then add the almond milk. Cook for about 5 minutes until mixture begins to thicken, stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour about 1/4 cup of gravy over a warm biscuit and serve immediately.
Carla's Tip: If you have any allergies to nutmilk or coconut, then substitute with other ingredients that work best for you, such as rice milk or vegan butter spread — or use dairy products if you prefer!
Note: Yes, "gravy" is a word often used by Italian Americans to describe what might be commonly called spaghetti sauce. This "tomato gravy" is made with a flour-based roux, like a traditional gravy, so is not quite the same as something you'd pour over pasta!