“Vegetarian Gumbo with Beans?!” – You may question. I did too … but my friend Justin Fox Burks insisted I give his recipe a try.
Well … as usual … Justin’s recipe was some darn good stuff. His concoction of veggies and spices offers a tasty gumbo that had everyone at our table asking for seconds.
Justin and his wife Amy Lawrence are co-authors of the fabulous vegetarian recipe blog “The Chubby Vegetarian.” Their blog has become my go-to for all things veggie. It is a great resource for dishes so delicious and creative that you will never miss the meat. This recipe is also featured in their new book “The Southern Vegetarian” (May 2013, Thomas Nelson Publishers). I was lucky enough to get an advance copy and am loving everything I have made so far. It’s a must for vegetarians and meat-eaters both!
Back to the gumbo … Justin’s recipe calls for liquid smoke. An ingredient I had never used before. But since it was at Whole Foods I figured it was safe to eat! I used the Hickory smoke flavor. It gave the gumbo that depth that a smoked sausage adds a traditional gumbo.
The Chubby Vegetarian Gumbo
Click here for the original recipe.
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped tomato (1 medium)
1 1/2 cups chopped onion (1 medium)
8 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons creole mustard
1 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 tablespoon vinegar
10 dashes Tabasco
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 quart vegetable stock
4 cups sliced okra (1/4 inch slices, stem-end discarded)
1 1/2 cups red beans (1 16 ounce can, drained and rinsed or makes your own)
10 ounces crimini mushrooms (quartered)
1 1/2 cups diced zucchini (1 medium)
1 1/2 cups diced green pepper (1 large)
1 1/2 cups diced red pepper (1 large)
1 cup thinly sliced celery (2 ribs)
4-5 cups cooked jasmine rice
1/2 cup sliced green onion (for garnish)
5-6 sprigs baby dill (for garnish)
To make the roux, place the canola oil and the flour into a medium-sized dutch oven. (This is the pot in which you will eventually make the gumbo, so using it now saves on dishes later. A heavy pot like this is essential when making a roux because of its ability to distribute heat evenly.) With the oil and flour in the cold dutch oven, turn the heat on medium. Whisk the mixture constantly until you notice that it has become nutty (it’ll kind of smell like — gasp! — fried chicken) and fragrant (both of which happen about five minutes into the process). At this point, turn the heat to low. Keep a close eye on your roux, and whisk the mixture about every minute so no part of the roux burns. Continue in this fashion for about another twenty minutes or until the roux has taken on the color of an old penny. Remove the pot from the heat. Congratulations — you just made your first roux!
Place the tomato, onion, garlic, worcestershire sauce, mustard, liquid smoke, vinegar, Tabasco, soy sauce, thyme, red pepper flakes, paprika, nutmeg and oregano into the work bowl of your food processor. This is quite an unconventional method for making gumbo, but it works beautifully. Blend mixture until smooth. This is your flavoring agent for the whole dish. Now return the dutch oven with the roux still in it to a burner set to medium-high heat, and immediately add the mixture you just made in the food processor. Stir to incorporate. Continue cooking and stirring the resulting mixture until most of the liquid has evaporated, and it resembles a paste. Add the vegetable stock and stir. Once the mixture is heated through, turn the burner to medium-low. Add the okra, red beans, mushrooms, zucchini, green and red peppers, and celery to the pot. Cook uncovered for about 20 minutes until everything is heated through, but not mush.
To serve, ladle out some gumbo into a bowl and top with about 1/2 cup of rice, a few green onions, and a sprig of fresh dill. Have plenty of crusty french bread and butter on hand for sopping up the amazing broth.
Serves 6 to 8.
Cooking Tip: If you like okra but are not a fan of the sliminess that sometimes can occur with it, sauté the sliced okra in batches in one tablespoon of canola oil until lightly browned. Add the cooked okra to the gumbo. Problem solved.