I will admit, OUT LOUD, in front of everybody, that I don't like typical gumbo recipes. I've eaten only two bowls in my life that weren't drowning in a layer of oil. Thankfully, this delightful red bean gumbo recipe I have before you is nothing like the meaty gumbo versions. This vegetarian gumbo doesn't need a special occasion either. It can be made up quickly anytime, anywhere.
Now, don't go freakin' out just because I said this was 'vegetarian'. I'm not going vegetarian on you. I love bacon just as much as the next person. But a few nights a week, it's good to just veg-out.
HERE'S ALL IT TAKES
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- 1 pound (4 cups) okra, sliced
- 1 1/2 cups canned diced tomatoes
- 1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups cooked red kidney beans (pinto beans work, too)
- 4 cups hot, cooked rice
- Filé powder
- Red pepper hot sauce
In a large pot or dutch oven, heat the oil. Add the onion, green pepper, celery and garlic. Cook until onion is soft and translucent. Add the vegetable broth, okra, tomatoes, parsley, bay leaves, thyme, black pepper, red pepper and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer for 30 minutes. Discard bay leaves.
In the meantime, in a medium sauce pan, mix the 1/4 cup canola oil and 1/4 cup flour until it's smooth. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring and stirring and more stirring, until the roux is a rich brown. Not tan. Rich brown. This will take about as long as the vegetables simmering in the other pot. And yes, it will smell very oily like a vat of frying oil. Don't worry. It will NOT make the gumbo taste oily or appear oily. I got worried the first time I made roux but after I added it to the gumbo, all turned out beautifully.
Anyhoo. Grab a tall chair. Bring your laptop into the kitchen and watch your favorite instant watch on Netflix. That's how I past the time while stirring. DO NOT LET THE ROUX BURN. You will have to start over if you burn it.
Carefully, slowly, stir the rich brown roux into the gumbo. Keep in mind the roux is hot oil and you're pouring it into hot water. There could be splattering if you pour too fast. Add the beans. Simmer for another 15 minutes. Serve over hot rice and pass the Filé powder and pepper sauce around the table.
Red Bean Gumbo keeps very well in the freezer, too. I put the leftovers up in single serving containers and enjoyed them on those days I had to keep working through lunch.