October 12th was apparently National Gumbo Day so I delved into the ingredients that made a good gumbo and then created a vegan version which is so tasty with so many elements that I could eat it daily all week without getting bored of it. I also created a recipe that creates just enough for 1-2 people with a couple days’ worth of leftovers, instead of the two-gallon yield of many gumbo recipes.
- Vegetable oil
- All-Purpose Flour
- Yellow Onion
- Bell Pepper or Sweet Peppers
- Green Onion
- Canned chopped tomatoes
- Veggie broth or water
- Field Roast Sausage
- Liquid Smoke
- Seasoning: garlic powder, oregano, coarse ground pepper, salt, cayenne powder, rosemary
- Optional: use premade cajun seasoning in place of above seasoning mix.
- For serving: rice is typically served with gumbo. The essential part of this dish was the roux so I did not focus on making rice and instead used a premade brown rice + quinoa blend. White rice, brown rice, wild rice, or quinoa are all good parings.
- Arrange chopped okra onto a baking pan (I used 2/3 of a frozen bag of chopped okra). Toss in small amount olive oil. Bake at 400ºF for 16-20 minutes. This makes the okra crisp rather than resulting in soggy okra in the final dish (I saw lots of comments on unfortunate soggy okra in gumbo so do not skip this step! This make the okra crisper than the celery!)
- Prep veggies: chop 1/2 medium yellow onion, 1/2 bunch celery, 1 large bell pepper or 4-5 sweet peppers, 1/2 bunch green onions, 1/2 bunch parsley
- If making broth from scratch, start that now and it will be done by the time the roux is completed. I used the scraps from all the chopped veggies in my broth with some added garlic, cumin powder, and chili powder.
- Make Roux: Place 1/3 c vegetable oil and 1/2 c flour into a bottom heavy pot (with lid! as this is the same pot to be used for the entire gumbo and requires simmering). Stir together with a whisk and heat on medium heat. Stir until arms fall off. Seriously, this is a labor of love. Only focus on the roux; do not multitask as a burnt roux cannot be saved.
Stir continuously for 45 minutes. The color of the roux will evolve from raw pancake batter color to golden pancake color to a golden caramel color then a darker caramel color and finally to a deep brown molasses color. Once it is a dark caramel color, turn down to low heat and add chopped yellow onion and stir with a wooden spoon. Stir continuously until it is the dark brown color. The roux with onions will smell amazing at this point.
- Add rest of chopped vegetables (celery, peppers, green onion, okra, parsley) to the roux and mix together for about 30 seconds.
- Add 4 cups veggie broth, 1/2 can chopped tomatoes (I used canned roasted tomatoes with green chilis). Mix together.
- Season with 2 tsp garlic powder, 1 Tbsp oregano, 1/4-1/2 tsp coarse ground black pepper, 1/4 tsp salt (wait until tasting final dish prior to adding any more than this), pinch cayenne, sprig of rosemary (or 1/4-1/2 tsp dried rosemary)
- Bring mix to a boil on medium heat. Once boiling, cover and bring to a simmer. Simmer the gumbo for a total of 30 minutes (sausage will be added halfway once it is done)
- While vegetable mix is simmering, prepare the sausage. I used two types of Field Roast Sausage: Smoked Apple & Sage Sausage and Italian Garlic & Fennel — they each have different textures, colors, and flavors that bring more interest to the gumbo. I cut each link into ten thick slices and cooked them in a lightly oiled pan (only need to cook about 3 minutes each side and these probably could be put into the gumbo directly but I like cooked them slightly in a pan first)
- Add sausage to the gumbo pot. Continue to simmer (Can be added at anytime once prepped. Make sure to simmer the gumbo for 30 minutes total)
- Serve hot with rice. I also enjoyed some pretzel bread with this. Since I spent time on the roux, I did not make rice from scratch, I just used a prepackaged blend of brown rice and quinoa which I heated on the same pan I used for the sausage. If making rice from scratch, start it at the same time as the gumbo is set to simmer so that they are done at the same time (1 c brown rice + 2 1/2 c water, bring to boil, simmer for 15-20 minutes)
TIPSIf you are short, use a short sided and wide stock pot rather than a deep one, otherwise, stirring a roux for 45 minutes can stress the shoulders. You basically want to be able to relax the arms as you slowly stir.
If you meditate, you will find stirring for 45 minutes quite meditative. If you do not meditate and this task seems impossible and you feel you have no time for it, you should start meditating. There are various sayings that basically suggest “If you time to meditate for ten minutes a day, then do so. If you don’t have time to meditate for ten minutes everyday, you should meditate for at least one hour.”
Back to the roux: use a long heat-resistant whisk; the heat really builds up over time. I started off with a small whisk and graduated up as the roux heated up.