This is not the first time I’ve highlighted a vegetarian dish of Southern origin in the last couple months and it definitely won’t be the last. While the last trio of recipes was from Budget Bytes (the author lives in New Orleans), this recipe comes from The Southern Vegetarian Cookbook, which we recently acquired after seeing it on the bookshelf of some good friends in Little Rock. The cookbook is based out of a blog called the Chubby Vegetarian, which is run by Southerners who try to enjoy “classic” Southern meals without compromising their ethical wishes. This was the second recipe we’ve made out of here (never captured photos of the first, plus we weren’t overly successful with it) and this one is a winner! I would make this over and over and over again. True in its Southern style, this gumbo is spot on and probably the best gumbo I’ve ever had, in the South or not.
While it was difficult for us to find okra in the PNW in March, we succeeded in raiding a grocery store of the last of their fresh okra in order to create this dish. This fed us for several nights and it was one of those recipes you looked forward to over and over again. We were honestly sad when we ran out because we had been enjoying it so much! The funny thing is, Will and I aren’t particularly big Southern food fans, but for some reason recently, we’ve been wanting to “explore our roots” if you will, by cooking more Southern-inspired fare. We even ventured to an awesome new restaurant in Tacoma called Pacific Southern for Will’s birthday, just to enjoy some homestyle shrimp ‘n grits and a big batch of fried chicken (Will, not me). We’re taking a trip to Louisville in a couple weeks, so perhaps this is all inspired by that upcoming venture! Who really knows, but I am riding this wave as long as I can. Southern food is good food!
Cooking Notes: We were unable to find Creole mustard, so had to settle for regular dijon mustard. We also subbed apple cider vinegar for regular white vinegar. But otherwise, we followed this recipe pretty closely!
Vegetarian Gumbo (adapted from The Southern Vegetarian; serves 8)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
8 cloves garlic
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp dijon mustard
1 1/2 tsp liquid smoke
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp hot sauce of your choosing
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp dried oregano
1 quart veggie stock
4 cups okra, sliced (1/4″ slices, stems discarded)
1 16-oz. can red beans, drained and rinsed
10 oz. crimini mushrooms, quartered
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 large green pepper, diced
1 large red pepper, diced
2 ribs celery, thinly sliced
4-5 cups cooked jasmine rice
5-6 sprigs baby dill, to top
Begin by making a roux: drizzle the olive oil and flour into a cold medium-size Dutch oven. Turn the heat on medium, whisking constantly until it becomes nutty and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat to low, continuing to observe your roux, whisking the mixture every minute or so, to prevent burning. Continue for about 20 minutes or until it’s the color of an old penny. Once complete, removed pot from heat.
In the work bowl of your food processor, place the tomato,onion, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, liquid smoke, vinegar, hot sauce, soy sauce, thyme, red pepper flakes, paprika, nutmeg and oregano. Blend until smooth.
Return the Dutch oven to the burner, turning the heat to medium-high. Immediately add the veggie/sauce mixture, stirring to incorporate. Continue cooking and stirring until most of the liquid has evaporated and it resembles a paste. Add the veggie stock and stir. Once it’s heated through, turn the burner to medium-low. Add the okra, red beans, mushrooms, zucchini, green and red peppers, and celery to the pot. Cook uncovered for 20 minutes until everything is heated through, but not mushy. Ladle into a bowl and top with 1/2 cup of rice, a few green onions and a fresh sprig of dill. Serve with crusty bread and enjoy!