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Biscuits and gravy for breakfast on Meatless Monday

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​No one's saying you have to go meatless just because it's Monday -- but as an incentive to join the growing Meatless Monday movement, we're featuring an animal-free recipe each week.

Biscuits and gravy are a common comfort food, and sadly, it's very rare to find a good vegan b&g in Denver. But you can make your own easily, and we guarantee this recipe will impress the special herbivore in your life.

We made our own tempeh "sausage" for this plate, but you can get an equally tasty result by using LightLife's Gimme Lean sausage product, the one that comes in a tube. Yes, brand matters here: The LightLife sausage has a more meat-like texture, and using it will yield an almost-exactly-like-the-real-thing result.

If you use the LightLife sausage, you don't need the tempeh, fennel, basil, oregano, red pepper flakes, sage, garlic, tamari, olive oil or lemon, and you can skip steps one and seven. Just brown the sausage in a small pan for two or three minutes and then add it to the gravy in step thirteen.

You will need:

1 package tempeh (8 ounces) 1 tablespoon fennel 1 teaspoon basil 2 teaspoons oregano 1 packet red pepper flakes 1 teaspoon dried sage 2 cloves garlic 2 tablespoons tamari 1 tablespoon olive oil 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 2 2/3 cups flour 1 tablespoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/3 cup + 4 tablespoons melted non-hydrogenated, non-dairy butter (Earth Balance brand works just like real butter) 1 32-ounce container hemp milk 1 tablespoon peanut oil

Add enough water to almost cover the tempeh and simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until most of the water is absorbed (this should take fifteen to twenty minutes). While the tempeh simmers, work on the biscuits.

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F and lightly grease a cookie sheet.

2. Melt 1/3 cup of butter in a small bowl. 3. In a large bowl, mix two cups flour, baking powder and salt until well-combined. (This recipe is adjusted for Denver altitude; bakers at sea level should cut the flour by 1/2 cup or so.) 4. Add the melted butter and 2/3 cup of the hemp milk and stir until the dry ingredients are just moistened. Be careful not to overmix! 5. Shape the dough into small balls and space them on the cookie sheet. You'll get about eight medium-sized biscuits from this recipe. 6. Bake until the biscuits are golden-brown on the bottoms and the tops, anywhere from eight to twelve minutes (keep an eye on them ). If you use the Earth Balance butter, we guarantee these will be indistinguishable from butter-and-milk biscuits. 7. When the tempeh has absorbed most of the water, drain the rest and add the fennel, basil, oregano, red pepper flakes, sage, garlic, tamari, olive oil and lemon juice to the skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about ten minutes. It'll look like this when it's ready. 8. Melt the remaining four tablespoons of butter in a small bowl and combine with the peanut oil. 9. Mix in about 2/3 cup flour with the butter-peanut oil combination to create a roux -- it should look like this photo in consistency. 10. Heat about 1/3 of the remaining hemp milk in a large skillet over medium heat until it begins to steam. 11. Mix in the roux a little bit at a time, using a fork to dissolve the mixture into the milk. 12. Alternate adding milk and roux to the saucepan, allowing the gravy to thicken as you cook it down -- it should be simmering, not boiling. Add all the roux and the rest of the container of hemp milk. 13. When you've used all the roux and the milk, and the gravy is a thick and creamy consistency, stir in the sausage crumbles. Perfect. Crumble the biscuits on a plate, ladle the gravy on top and serve to your favorite plant-based eater.

Practice makes perfect with this one; the more you try this recipe, the easier it will become.

Fair warning: Serve it to a vegetarian or vegan who hasn't had a decent biscuit-and-gravy breakfast in a long time, and you'll have only yourself to blame if they become hopelessly devoted to you.

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Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.