Did she say Vegan Gumbo? Yup! And you’ll be glad I did because this recipe checks all the boxes for working up an amazing, and impressive dish. Though, it takes a team and some Duke Ellington playing sweet jazz in the background, because it’s sooooo worth it. We omitted the andouille sausage, crab meat, shrimp, oh and the alligator tail 🙂
Vegan Gumbo Ingredients
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 60 minutes
- ½ cup vegan butter
- ⅔ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 medium green bell-peppers (finely chopped)
- 2 celery stalks (finely chopped)
- 1 onion (finely chopped)
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 cup mixed frozen vegetables
- 1 medium head of cauliflower
- 1 cup baby bella mushrooms (sliced)
- 1 cup frozen okra (sliced)
- 1 tbsp crushed garlic
- 1 tbsp Cajun Seasoning*
- ½ tsp liquid Smoke
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 14oz can chopped tomato
- 1 15oz can kidney beans
- salt and pepper to taste
- Basmati Rice
- Chopped spring onions
Vegan Gumbo Recipe
- Add the vegan butter to a heavy bottomed pot and let it melt over medium heat. Add the all purpose flour and stir it into a paste.
- Keep stirring and over the course of about 20 minutes on medium heat and about an hour on low to medium, (not kidding, we took turns), you’ll watch the roux change, from a thick paste into a thin sauce and the color will gradually change until you eventually reach a dark caramel color which indicates that your roux is perfectly done. A high quality heavy bottomed pot will be ideal especially if you choose the high heat fast route. If you have a concern that it may burn in your pot, then take the slow and steady approach. The end will be worth it.
- If you burn the roux, you have to start again. So, be very careful. Unfortunately once burnt the roux can’t be salvaged and it will have to be redone.
- When your roux reaches the dark caramel stage, then add in the green bell pepper, celery and onion, called the ‘Holy Trinity” of veggies. Add to your roux and mix it in and cook until the veggies are softened.
- Add the vegetable stock and stir in.
- Add frozen vegetables*, cauliflower florets, mushrooms, garlic, cajun spices, liquid smoke and a bay leaf. Stir this in.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and kidney beans and stir in. Bring it all to a simmer, cover pot and leave it to simmer until everything is cooked and fragrant.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve with basmati rice (optional) and with some chopped spring onions on top.
Alongside the rice, covered with the colorful gumbo, I served comforting cornmeal muffins.
*Hoping to save another trip to the grocery store, I looked up what spices make up the rustic seasoning in cajun food? Get this; simply, paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, oregano, thyme, salt, fine ground black pepper. We had everything and then some thanks to Rick, who painstakingly last summer, grew, dried and put in jars the fresh herbs from the garden. I decided to use the Aleppo Pepper that I wrote about two weeks ago in my blog: Vegan Cauliflower Tahini Salad.
* Regarding the frozen vegetables in this recipe, it was so rewarding to be able to go to my freezer and dig around for the carefully vacuumed sealed bag of frozen-fresh zucchini and yellow squash from last year’s summer garden. And by “vacuum sealed”, I mean, I put the cut up vegetables in the bag and Rick sucked out the air with a straw; it worked! We’ll definitely do that again…
Cajun Seasoning Recipe
- 3 tbsp paprika
- 2 tsp each garlic powder and salt
- 1 tbsp each: cayenne pepper, onion powder, dried oregano, dried thyme, black pepper.
- Grind in mortar until mixed and reasonably fine. Store in jar or zip lock baggie.
In lieu of going to New Orleans (on the bucket list), our gumbo was a perfect Mardi Gras dinner for us out here in California. It was fun making the roux and chopping all the vegetables. I felt like I was on a bit of a cooking adventure. In just about everything I cook, I start off with olive oil, onion, garlic and depending on which direction I’m headed, parsley, basil or rosemary. So it was a nice change to use liquid smoke (never before), and this was a first with okra (for me that is), Rick says he ate a ton of the stuff growing up. The okra was such a pleasant surprise. We’ll definitely be planting a row. Rick’s ordering some okra pellets as I write this.
I’ll leave you with:
A Short History of Gumbo by Stanley Dry
“Of all the dishes in the realm of Louisiana cooking, gumbo is the most famous and very likely, the most popular. Gumbo crosses all class barriers, appearing on the tables of the poor as well as the wealthy. Although ingredients might vary greatly from one cook to the next, and from one part of the state to the next, a steaming bowl of fragrant gumbo is one of life’s cherished pleasures, as emblematic of Louisiana as chili is of Texas.
Gumbo is often cited as an example of the melting-pot nature of Louisiana cooking, but trying to sort out the origins and evolution of the dish is highly speculative. The name derives from a West African word for okra, suggesting that gumbo was originally made with okra. The use of dried and ground sassafras leaves was a contribution from the Choctaws and possibly, other tribes. Roux has its origin in French cuisine, although the roux used in gumbos is much darker than its Gallic cousins…. I am convinced that part of gumbo’s virtue, aside from its deliciousness, is that the dish is very forgiving of the cook. Measurements do not have to be exact, ingredients may be changed to use what is on hand, and unless diners are so set in their ways that they can’t appreciate change, the results will be quite good.”
You have no idea how I loved reading that, especially after realizing this morning, instead of putting in the 1 Tablespoon of Cajun Seasoning, I poured in the whole batch of our homemade cajun seasoning. Probably three times the amount called for!! It was spicy, very, very spicy, but along with a heaping spoonful of white rice, a big bite of cornmeal muffin and followed with a large gulp of water, it was everything I had imagined Gumbo to be. We live another day 🙂
“What is New Orleans? New Orleans is Creale gumbo, cowan gumbo, chicken gumbo, smoked sausage gumbo, hot sausage gumbo, onion gumbo”
-Kermit Ruffins, New Orleans vocalist and trumpeter.