It was a challenge to veganize gumbo, as most recipes I’ve encountered in my research are heavily meat based. The trick is to use the “holy trinity” of Creole cooking: onions, celery, and peppers. Also, making your roux a chocolate brown color adds a depth of flavor and richness to the gumbo that is unmatched. Browning your roux past a blonde shade reduces its thickening capabilities, so if you want your gumbo to be thicker, stop before it turns a deeper shade. You can add 2 cups sliced okra to this recipe if you want more it to be thicker than what file powder or a blonde roux can achieve. The possibilities with gumbo are endless, so don’t be afraid to experiment. I have also provided an all purpose Creole seasoning blend with this recipe to simplify things a bit and add a New Orleans flair to other dishes.
1/4 cup Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour (Bob’s Red Mill makes one)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil + 1 TB to sauté, divided
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1-2 jalapeno peppers, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups vegetable stock
3 TB tomato paste
4 TB vegan Worcestershire sauce (I use Annie’s brand, optional)
1 TB Creole Spice Blend (recipe follows)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tsp Smoked Spanish paprika
2 cans red beans
1 can white Cannellini beans
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
pepper to taste
1/4 cup Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 1/2 tsp file powder, stirred in after taken off heat
2 cups white rice, rinsed with cold water till it runs clear and cooked in 3 cups of water.
1/4 cup green onions, chopped
Tabasco or cayenne pepper sauce, to taste
In a 6 quart dutch oven, cast-iron or non-stick ceramic, sauté onion, celery, and green bell pepper on medium-high heat with olive oil until softened a bit, about 5-6 minutes. Remove from pot and add a bit of oil to sauté to jalapeño for about 4-5 minutes. Add garlic, and cook for another 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
Add vegetable stock and return onion, celery, and green pepper to the pot. Reduce heat to medium-low.
Add tomato paste, Creole spices, cayenne pepper, smoked Spanish paprika, Worcestershire sauce, red beans, white beans, and salt-pepper to taste. Let simmer for about 30-40 minutes, longer if you have time to develop flavor.
Start your roux. A roux is used to either thicken sauces or stews or to deepen the flavor profile of your dish. In this recipe, we are using the roux to deepen the flavor, so we are taking the color to a milk-chocolate shade. Make sure to not overcook the roux or it will burn. In a small, non-stick saucepan, heat 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil on medium heat for about 4-5 minutes until the oil gets hot. Add flour and stir constantly on medium heat with a wooden spoon until the roux turns a chocolate brown. Allow to cool slightly before adding to your gumbo or it may separate and will spatter and could cause burns. Also, before you add your roux, make sure the stew isn’t boiling. If you want a thicker gumbo, stop your roux when it turns a blonde shade, about 10-12 minutes in.
Tips on making a perfect roux: If you have never made a roux before or are afraid of burning it, you can use a double boiler or heat the roux on low. It will increase the cooktime to about 30-40 minutes, so its up to you what your comfort level is. I find that cooking my roux faster is fine by me, as long as I constantly stir it vigorously and keep an eye on it. Using a non-stick, ceramic saucepan really helps keep the roux from burning and sticking as well. Make sure and stir the bottom of the pan frequently to keep the bottom from burning.
Add roux and mix into the stew. Remove from heat and add file powder. If you add file while still cooking the gumbo, it will turn a slimy consistency. Stir to combine, the stew should thicken slightly. Add chopped parsley and stir. Serve gumbo over rice and garnish with green onions.
Creole Spice Blend (Blend all ingredients in a coffee grinder designated to blending spices)
- 1 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 TB celery seeds
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp cayenne
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 1/2 tsp thyme
- 1/4 tsp all spice
- 2 bay leaves