Friday, December 11, 2015

Vegetarian Gumbo Done Right!

To many Louisianans, gumbo without shrimp or meat is as sacrilegious as getting ticketed for an open container violation or tolerating somebody shit-talking the Saints. Unthinkable. However, by subbing in some saffron and liquid smoke (along with a healthy dose of other seasonings), this recipe might not just compete with traditional gumbo, this might beat it outright. Just be prepared for the startled compliments you will receive from your stunned Southern friends when you serve this. 

Most gumbos start with a roux, but I choose not to. That said, you can certainly add 1/4 cup oil and 1/4 cup flower to start a roux which you'd add the sautéed veggies and stock to once they're combined and the roux is ready. You can also go the traditional route and include okra--I'm just not a huge fan, so I leave it out.

Also, don't skip the saffron. I know it's expensive. But it's critical in creating a rich gumbo flavor, so get over it. 

Goes great with red beans and dirty rice.

Prep time: 1 cocktail

4 TBSP olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
5 stalks celery, chopped
10 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces tempeh, crumbled
2-3 cups veggie stock, store-bought or homemade
2 bunches kale, stems removed and shredded
1 1/2 tsp Cajun seasoning
1 pinch saffron threads
1 TBSP Tabasco sauce
cayenne to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
1 28-ounce can tomatoes, chopped
1 TBSP Thyme
6 bay leaves
10 drops liquid smoke (or a bit more to taste)
Black eyed peas, drained and rinsed (optional)

Heat the oil over medium-high heat and add onion, pepper, celery, garlic, and tempeh. Saute until veggies soften up and onion is translucent, about 6 minutes. Continue cooking another minute beyond this and then add all other ingredients. Bring back to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer like this for at least 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Adjust water/stock, if you want it brothier.

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