When people think of plant based food, they typically think of salads and rice dishes topped with unseasoned tofu. I’m here to tell you, if that were the case, there is no way I would be on board. One of the main reasons I decided to start a food blog was to share that plant based foods can be exciting and delicious.
This Vegan Gumbo was a bit of an experiment. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to get that smokey flavor that makes gumbo so mouth watering without any meat. Turns out, you can! The traditional process of making a “roux” is crucial to getting the right balance of flavor.
To make a “roux” you need to heat oil at a high temperature, and briskly whisk in flour. As the oil and flour cook, they form a paste-like consistency and turn a deep brown color. This is the base to any true gumbo. For this gumbo recipe, I used canola oil, and whole wheat flour. Since my whole wheat flour was already a tan color, instead of pure white, the roux was especially dark in color— think dark chocolate. But if you use a white flour, your roux should end up more of a rich mahogany color. You must whisk the roux constantly to ensure it doesn’t burn. If it looks like it is burning (turning black or taking on a gritty texture), turn down the heat slightly. Your oil may begin smoking a little bit, which is okay, but if it is smoking a lot, it is probably too hot. Making a proper roux can take 15-20 minutes of whisking. Don’t rush it, otherwise it might burn.
The other crucial element to a good gumbo is okra! Depending on where you live, finding fresh okra may be challenging. However most grocery stores sell it in the frozen section if you can’t find it fresh. This recipe calls for 4 cups of chopped okra, but you could add more or less depending on your taste.
Finally, we love spicy food in our house, and I am of the opinion that a good gumbo has a kick to it, so I call for a full teaspoon of cayenne pepper, but if you don’t tolerate spice well, you can of course adjust the amount to your own taste.
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do!
- 4 c. Okra Sliced
- 1 Yellow Bell Pepper Diced
- 1 Red Bell Pepper Diced
- 1 Onion Diced
- 2 c. Celery Chopped
- 6 Garlic Cloves Minced
- 2 c. Kidney Beans Soaked for at least 6 hours, or Substitute for 2 c. of Canned Kidney Beans
- 14 oz Can Stewed Tomatoes
- 3/4 Tbsp Fresh Thyme Chopped
- 1 Tbsp Fresh Italian Parsley Chopped
- 4 Bay Leaves
- 8 c. Vegetable Broth
- 1/3 c. Canola Oil
- 5 Tbsp Whole Wheat Flour
- 3 1/2 Tsp Cajun Seasoning I use an organic Cajun seasoning to avoid additives and too much salt
- 2 Tsp White Wine Vinegar
- 1 Tsp Cayenne Pepper Adjust to your taste
- 3/4 Tsp Salt
- 1 c. Water
- Tabasco To Taste
- 2 c. Long Grain Brown Rice Rinsed in a fine mesh strainer
- 4 c. Water
- *This is a recipe where you will want to chop and slice all of your vegetables before you start cooking. Once you make the roux, you won't have time to chop the vegetables. Also, please note the recipe calls for kidney beans to be soaked for at least 6 hours, however you can easily substitute these for 2 c. of canned kidney beans.
- In a large, heavy bottom pot, heat the oil over medium/high heat.
- Add the flour in 1 Tbsp at a time, whisking constantly. If the flour begins to turn black or gritty, your oil is too hot. You want it to brown slowly. Continue adding the flour, and whisking until it turns a deep, mahogany brown, and has a thick, almost paste like texture. This process can take 15-20 minutes. The oil may smoke a little, but if it is smoking a lot, it is probably too hot. Once the roux is deep brown, remove from heat, but continue whisking until it stops cooking (about another minute or two).
- Place the roux back on the stove at medium heat. Add onions, garlic, bell peppers, celery, and okra. Mix to combine.
- Add all remaining ingredients (excluding the rice and 4 c. of water for rice). Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 1-1.5 hours stirring occasionally to ensure nothing sticks to the bottom.
- About 40-45 minutes before you plan to serve the gumbo, bring 4 c. of water in a medium size saucepan to a boil. Add rice. Return to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover and let cook for 40-45 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.
- To serve, add brown rice to the bottom of a bowl, pour gumbo over the top and serve with Tabasco sauce and fresh chopped parsley. Enjoy!