Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Gumbo Z' Herbes

As part of my fascination with Southern Cooking, I went on a Gumbo jag there for a while. I read up on some of the controversies ("Roux versus no roux"!!!) and tried a bunch of recipes. This is what I came up with as my favorite, aiming for low-to-no fat, vegan, and gluten-free (hence, no roux for you!) I owe much of the inspiration to Jay Solomon's gumbo in "Vegetarian Soup Cuisine."

Folklore AND Religious Studies Alert! Green Gumbo is traditionally served during Lent (on Good Friday, when one is presumably refraining from meat-eating). You're advised to use an odd number of greens, and as many different ones as possible - because each one represents a new friend in the next year :-)

1 teaspoon oil (or 1 tablespoon water)
1 yellow onion, diced (about 1 cup)
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 jalapeno, minced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 teaspoon salt
1 can fire-roasted tomatoes (plain is okay, too)
1/2 small can tomato paste
5-6 cups water
2 teaspoons oregano
2 teaspoons thyme
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (to taste)
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon Liquid Smoke
1 can red beans, drained and rinsed
4-6 cups chopped fresh greens (kale, spinach, mustard greens, collards...I usually go easy on any chard or beet greens because they seem to have such a 'swampy' or 'earthy' flavor)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (or 1 tablespoon dried)
Frank's Red Hot or Tabasco sauce
Cooked rice (or another grain if you're feeling feisty!)

Warm oil (or water) in a large soup pot on medium heat. If you go with water, you'll need to do the saute step at a lower temperature, and definitely cover the pot, stirring occasionally. Saute onions and garlic for a few minutes first, then add peppers and celery. When onions are translucent and everybody's tender, add tomatoes, tomato paste, water, and all of the spices. Simmer for at least 20 minutes. Add greens (I usually deal with them while the other veggies are sauteing) and beans. Simmer until greens are tender, at least 20 minutes (at this stage, I usually transfer to a crockpot and let it simmer for a long time, because I like my greens very tender). Taste and adjust seasonings, adding hot sauce. Stir in parsley just before serving over a scoop of rice. ENJOY!