Fast food? Fuggedaboudit!
Far back into my pre-vegan days, when I was pregnant with my oldest son Dominic, I had what you might call a love-hate relationship with food. I loved it, all of it, in large quantities, and hated when I couldn’t satisfy a craving! I don’t recall every having any of those outlandish, cliched cravings like pickles and ice cream, but it’s no exaggeration to say that I had a passionate love affair with junk-food. I look back on those nine months now and cringe, knowing that I could have been kinder to my body and my growing baby.
One of the things I HAD to have, at least two or three times a week, was KFC’s Famous Bowl. Actually, it’s funny that they call it that, because hardly anyone I know has ever heard of it. If you’ve never had one, here’s the gist: layers of mashed potatoes, corn, chicken, gravy, and shredded cheddar cheese. It’s a bowl of stick-to-your-ribs, comforting bliss. I would hit the drive-thru, pull into the parking lot with my bag, and inhale it, the bowl resting half on the steering wheel and half on my giant pregnant belly.
Well, now that you have THAT visual…
Nowadays, since my diet doesn’t include food from those that once went cluck-cluck or moo-moo, you might think that I had to say goodbye forever to chicken, cheese, and gravy. And you’d be wrong! It’s been my mission to “veganize” many dishes that I once enjoyed in my pre-vegan days, and this time, I have the apparently not-so-famous Famous Bowl in my sights.
My slimmed-down, cruelty-free version of this magical bowl is easily pulled together with some simple swaps for animal ingredients. My mashed potatoes are made creamy with almond milk and vegan mayo, and the Beyond Meat’s Beyond Chicken Grilled Strips and Daiya Farmhouse Block Medium Cheddar are make for a hearty and satisfying treat. Then there’s the peppery white bean gravy, easily made with veggie, not chicken broth, adapted from Lindsey Nixon’s White Bean Gravy recipe from the Happy Herbivore Holiday Gatherings Cookbook. This recipe is easy enough to halve or double depending on the crowd you’re feeding, and is a real favorite with kids and grown-ups alike. I hope you enjoy it!
- 6 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk of your choice
- 1/2 cup vegan mayo such as Just Mayo or Veganaise (if you want to omit this, add extra non-dairy milk)
- 1 16 ounce bag of frozen corn OR 1 15 ounce can of sweet corn
- 2 packages of Beyond Meat Beyond Chicken Grilled Strips (alternately, you can use a breaded chicken nugget-style product, though these are much higher in fat and calories)
- 1 recipe Peppery White Bean Gravy (below)
- 1/2 a block of Daiya Farmhouse Blocks Cheddar Style Cheese, shredded, OR Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds (I prefer the new Farmhouse blocks shredded finely to the packaged shreds) OPTIONAL
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Cook the cubed potatoes in a pot of boiling water until soft.
- While potatoes are boiling, cook the Grilled Strips. Arrange them on a large baking sheet in a single layer on the middle rack of your oven and set the broiler to high. Broil for about 5 to 6 minutes, flip with a spatula, and broil for another 5 to 6 minutes.
- Remove from oven, and with a knife and fork, cut each strip into cubes. Turn off the broiler and return the cubed strips to the oven to keep warm.
- Make the Peppery White Bean Gravy (recipe below).
- Drain the potatoes and return to the pot. Add the non-dairy milk, vegan mayo, and salt and pepper to taste. Mash with the potatoes to the consistency you desire. I usually like mashed potatoes very chunky, but this recipe calls for a smooth mash!
- Now it's time to assemble the bowls! There's no rules for layering but here's how I do it: mashed potatoes, corn, cubed Grilled Strips, gravy, shredded cheese. Use whatever quantity of each you like.
- PEPPERY WHITE BEAN GRAVY
- 2 cans of any type of white bean (cannelini, navy, great northern all work fine), drained and rinsed
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, plus additional if desired
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon each garlic powder and onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Liquid Smoke (optional)
- MAKE IT HAPPEN
- Put all ingredients into a blender and blend on high until smooth. Gravy should be thin enough to pour easily.
- Taste, then add more pepper if desired.
- Transfer to a medium saucepan and heat over low-medium heat, stirring often, until slightly thickened and bubbling. If you would like it to be thicker, scoop out about half a cup and whisk in 1/2 teaspoon of cornstarch, then return to saucepan and whisk in to incorporate, then return gravy to a bubbling state.
- Cover and set aside until ready to use.