I'm heading down to New Orleans this week to work at the annual Voodoo Music Festival. This will be my third year at the festival, and I've really grown to love the city and all its sights, sounds, smells, and of course, fabulous tastes.
I plan to report on the festival from a vegan's point of view, like I did for Bonnaroo earlier this year, but in the meanwhile I'm getting pretty excited for some Cajun & Creole cuisine. I already made an étouffée in honor of the True Blood finale, so this weekend I decided to make another classic: gumbo.
I found this recipe for Smoky Red Peppers 'n' Beans Gumbo in everyone's favorite vegan bible, Veganomicon. The ingredient list looked kind of long, but I have to say that everything came together pretty fast. It's totally yummy and had me thinking I was already down in N'awlins, listening to some jazz and dodging vampires.
The first step is making a roux, which consists of flour and butter and is used to thicken sauces, soups, and stews. Preheat a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat, then add 1/3 cup vegan butter (like Earth Balance) and stir until melted. Sprinkle in 1/4 cup all-purpose flour and stir to dissolve. Cook the flour mixture, stirring frequently, until it is a rich caramel color and smells toasty, about 10 minutes.
The color of your roux will change from this...
To your roux, add 2 diced onions and 2 diced green bell peppers. Raise the heat to medium-high and cook until vegetables are very soft, at least 12 minutes. Add 1 thinly sliced stalk of celery, 4 minced cloves of garlic, and a 10-oz. bag of frozen okra (slightly thawed), then cook another 6 minutes. The recipe said to thinly slice the frozen okra, but I thought that sounded like a lot of extra work so I didn't do it, and the gumbo didn't seem to suffer for it.
Raise the heat and bring everything to a gentle boil, then lower heat to medium and partially cover. Simmer 35-45 minutes, stirring occasionally until okra is very tender. Allow to cool at least 15 minutes, then season to taste with salt, pepper, and cayenne.