Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Gumbo Z'Herbes

Cajun Week Part 2: Gumbo Z'Herbes!  As I mentioned before, this version of gumbo is surprisingly meat-free.  The dish below looks a lot like the gumbo I had last week in New Orleans, though due to a salt-related mishap, it was much saltier. 

Gumbo Z'Herbes, soon to be topped with rice.
I'll post the recipe below with a more palatable amount of salt.  Give it a try!

Gumbo Z'Herbes
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 cup minced shallots
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3/4 teaspoon thyme
  • 1.5 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms, chopped
  • 10 ounces frozen collard greens (or a bunch of fresh greens)
  • 1 small head of cabbage, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 5 ounces frozen turnip greens (or a small bunch of fresh greens)
  • 6 scallions, diced
  • 1/8 cup chopped parsley 
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 - 15 ounce cans red kidney beans
  • Brown rice, prepared according to package instructions.

First, bring the water to a boil in a large soup pot.  (While waiting for the water to boil, continue with the recipe in the next paragraph.  Once the water boils, continue with the third paragraph.)     

Meanwhile, prepare the roux.  Heat the olive oil in a separate large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat.  Then add the flour and stir constantly until a peanut butter colored roux is attained.  Immediately add the onion, bell pepper, and celery and sauté until the vegetables become tender.  Add the shallots, garlic, herbs, spices, and salt and continue to cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally.  Next, add the mushrooms to the roux mixture and cook for two more minutes.

Once the water in the soup pot is boiling, add the collards and cabbage and boil until tender.  Then stir in the turnip greens and scallions and bring the soup mixture back to a boil.   

Stir the roux mixture into the soup mixture.  Once combined, add the parsley, soy sauce and kidney beans and simmer for at least 10 minutes.  Top with brown rice and serve hot. 

Yields 8 servings.

Mistaken saltiness aside, this dish had a great, deep flavor.  That's probably partly due to the addition of mushrooms (something I don't cook with very much, to Rachel's chagrin) and the roux base.  I also love that the gumbo is packed with a variety of dark leafy greens, cabbage, and other vegetables.   
There are a lot of ingredients in this version of Gumbo Z'Herbes, but they're all easy to find at the grocery store.  If you can't find some of the dark leafy greens (turnip greens, collard greens), I'm sure you could swap in some other dark leafy greens (mustard greens, etc.) in their place.      
 Ease of Preparation:    
Apparently Cajun cooking isn't the easiest.  Like the Seitan Jumbalaya I made earlier in the week, this dish has a number of steps and takes a while to make. Plus, it requires a pretty high level of attention during some more complex steps, such as roux-making.  But, don't be discouraged: I'm pretty sure this was my first time making a real roux and it was straightforward enough. 
Non-vegan friendliness:    
While we did have this as the main dish at dinner, I could see some non-vegans being unsatisfied with such a light main course.  This dish is less filling than some of the soups I've made previously, so it might work better as an appetizer. 

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