Friday, March 2, 2012

Avgolemono Sauce...

Avgolemono Sauce is a thick, rich, creamy and tangy sauce made primarily of lemon juice and eggs. In Greek cuisine it’s typically served with dolmathes, but can also be served with steamed artichokes or sometimes as a soup. It has always been my favorite Greek sauce after tzatziki.

Dolmathes are a favorite Greek dish of mine, I love them to death but for me one of the best parts about them is the avgolemono! Since going vegan I’ve made dolmathes several times and served them with several different sauces. The cranberry tahini from "Vegan Yum Yum" which was excellent, vegan tzatziki which is good, and a handful of other concoctions, but none of them was ever the same. Dolmathes just aren’t dolmathes without the Avgolemono.

There was a period where I spent a great deal of time searching high and low for vegan versions of avgolemono, without much success. Most of the recipes I came across were for the soup variation and the ones I found that were for the sauce seemed to miss the point drastically. I did not want tofu in my avgolemono, nor did I want chickpeas or cornstarch in it. I wanted a pure and simple avgolemono, one that mimicked the taste and texture I remembered and didn’t require a bunch of ingredients that would have been entirely foreign in the kitchens of my ancestors. It took time, and thought and quite a bit of fiddling before I realized that simple really was the way to go. Essentially all I needed to do was figure out how to substitute the eggs and everything else could be changed easily. In the end I opted to use cashews for three reasons, they cream really nicely, they firm up a bit if given the chance and I wanted to make this sauce soy-free. Initially I had no idea how or if it was going to work but by the time I was finished I couldn’t believe what I’d done.

Now truthfully I can’t recall exactly what a dairy based avgolemono sauce tastes like, aside from it tasting rich and tangy with lemon, but this sauce certainly delivers on both of those fronts. In fact it’s so rich It’s hard to believe there isn’t any egg in it! You can adjust the lemon and caper content to fit your own tangy desire but I think this is really perfect as is, and it tastes incredible alongside dolmathes which is the ultimate test in my opinion. Never again will I have to eat my dolmathes plain or with a sauce that just can’t compare to the culinary traditions I grew up with. This sauce is so good in fact you’re almost tempted to eat it by itself right off a spoon!

Avgolemono Sauce

3 Tbsp Earth Balance
3 Tbsp Whole Wheat Flour
2/3 C Cashews
1/3-1/2 C water, vegetable broth or faux ‘chicken’ broth
1/4-1/3 C Almond milk
3 Tbsp capers
2-3 Tbsp lemon juice
1/8-1/2 tsp Turmeric ***
sea salt and pepper
Additional vegetable or faux ‘chicken’ broth as needed (Optional)

- Blend Cashews, water/stock capers, lemon juice, turmeric, sea salt and black pepper in a high speed blender until completely smooth. Taste for seasonings and adjust as needed. Set aside.
- Melt the Earth Balance in a small pan over medium heat. Add the flour and stir until combined and a roux forms.

- Pour blended cashew mixture into the pot and stir to combine. Slowly stir in the almond milk starting with 1/4 C if too thick proceed to stir in the rest. Let sauce simmer over medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes until thickened.

- If sauce has thickened too much or you prefer a more liquid sauce stir in 1/4-1/3 C vegetable or faux ‘chicken’ broth.

- Taste for flavor and texture, adjust any seasonings as needed and enjoy with a big plate of dolmathes! Yum!

PS: If you don’t know how to make dolmathes of your own stay tuned for my dolmathes recipe which I hope to post this weekend or Monday at the latest.

*** Note - Because you don’t want any of the turmeric flavor to come through I recommend you start off small. Use 1/8 of a tsp of turmeric powder to color your sauce, taste and increase from there until you get the desired yellow shade. ***

*** Note - Soy-Free if using a soy-free non-dairy butter. This dish can also be made Gluten-Free if you use GF flour instead***

1 comment:

  1. That's pretty amazing that you were able to veganize the sauce! Good job! Man, we'll need to eat dolmathes again real soon.