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Plant-Based Mother Sauces – Béchamel Sauce and Velouté

three types of sauces in vintage gravy boats. Plant-based versions of classic mother sauces: a béchamel, a chicken-style and a beef-style velouté.

Many professional chefs count the ‘mother sauces’ as part of their essential toolkit. These foundational sauces, which have their roots in classic French cuisine, play pivotal roles in various culinary traditions around the world. Mastering plant-based versions of these sauces is a valuable skill that can significantly elevate the flavour and texture of your dishes.

The term ‘mother sauces’ originates from classic French cuisine and refers to a collection of fundamental sauces: Béchamel, Velouté, Espagnole, Hollandaise, and Tomato. These versatile bases are the foundation upon which countless secondary sauces, or small sauces, are built, allowing you to create an array of dishes with distinct flavours and textures.

Here’s a brief description of the “mother sauces” and how you might use them:

Mother SauceMain FlavourTexturePlant-Based Dish Examples
BéchamelMild, creamy, slightly nuttySmooth, creamyVegan lasagna with béchamel sauce, Creamy vegan mushroom pie, Layered vegetable bake
VeloutéSubtle, butteryVelvety, smoothVegan creamy mushroom soup, Plant-based chicken-style à la king, Barley Button Buns,
EspagnoleRich, robust, tomato-basedThick, heartyVegan shepherd’s pie, Plant-based meatballs in rich brown sauce
HollandaiseButtery, slightly tangyRich, creamyVegan Tofu Florentine with hollandaise, Steamed asparagus with vegan hollandaise sauce.
TomatoBright, acidicSmooth or chunky, depending on preparationVegan pizza with tomato sauce, Spaghetti with plant-based meatballs in tomato sauce, Zucchini Cannelloni

Crafting plant-based versions of these mother sauces is surprisingly straightforward. For a plant-based Béchamel sauce simply use plant-based dairy alternatives and a plant-based stock for Velouté. These adjustments retain the essence and versatility of the original sauces while making them accessible to those following a plant-based diet or vegan diet.

The list of sauces to make plant-based versions of is essentially limitless, as chefs continuously create new variations by adding different ingredients, as can you. In the realm of cooking, a well-crafted sauce often elevates a decent dish to a truly exceptional one, serving as the final touch that ties all the elements together.


Plant-Based Béchamel Sauce

A plant-based Béchamel, or white sauce, is simple to make. Choose your favourite recipe and use non-dairy alternatives, or start with the classic one below. The onion piqué is missing from many recipes, but for all Béchamel sauces, start with a roux (a mixture of plant-based butter and flour) and your choice of unsweetened plant-based milk. This versatile sauce is often used in recipes for pasta and vegetables and serves as the base for other sauces like Mornay sauce, commonly known as cheese sauce.

onion piqué, which is typically used to infuse flavor into soups, stocks, and sauces. The onion is halved and studded with cloves and bay leaves

Ingredients

  • 2 cups unsweetened plant-based milk,
  • 2 tbsp plant-based butter,
  • 3 tbsp all-purpose flour or cornflour for a gluten free béchamel
  • salt and pepper to taste.
  • Onion Pique – optional

Method

If using an onion pique – which does add flavour, simply peel a a small onion, cut it in half and trim the root end. Pin a dried bay leaf to the cut-side of the onion using a 2 or 3 whole dried cloves as pins.

Heat your plant-based milk with the onion pique, cook until soft. Remove before using.

Melt the plant-based butter in a pot over medium heat. Add the flour and stir continuously until a paste forms. Gradually whisk in the plant-based milk until smooth. Simmer the mixture, stirring often, until it thickens.

Season with salt and pepper.


Plant-Based Velouté Sauce

A velouté is a light, stock-based sauce. Like Béchamel, it starts with a roux, but instead of plant-based milk, it uses a light stock. The stock can be chicken or beef-style, mushroom, or vegetable. You can add seaweed or nori to a vegetable stock for a fishless-style stock.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp vegan butter
  • 3 tbsp all-purpose flour or cornflour for a gluten free option
  • 2 cups stock of choice
  • salt and pepper

Method

Melt the plant-based butter in a saucepan over medium heat, add the flour and stir continuously until a paste forms. Gradually whisk in the vegan stock until smooth. Simmer the mixture, stirring often, until it thickens. Season to taste.


Stay tuned for the next parts of this series subscribe, where we’ll delve into the plant-based transformations of Espagnole, Hollandaise, and Tomato sauce, guiding you to become a maestro of your own kitchen.

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