Dinner With My Family #33: Vegetarian Gumbo

Each week, I’ll present a low-cost meal (or a meal that demonstrates a lot of options for cutting costs) that my family eats for dinner and enjoys. Many of the recipes will be vegan or vegetarian, with options to add other ingredients for non-vegetarians.

At this point in late September, we’re starting to reach that point of using what things are still coming in from the garden along with the things we can find in our freezer and pantry to make new dishes. We’re also starting to move into more “fall”-type dishes, such as heartier soups and stews.

Our vegetarian gumbo is a great example of all of these things at once.

What You Need
You’ll need a half a cup of flour and a half a cup of your preferred vegetable oil to make the roux, a key flavorful part of the gumbo. You’ll also need a variety of vegetables – we used a small onion, a small bell pepper, a stalk of celery, a diced tomato, a handful of green beans, two sliced carrots, a handful of sliced okra, and a bit of cumin, paprika, and oregano for spicing. This will all be served over rice, so you’ll also need that.

Ingredients

The Night Before (or Early That Day)
The biggest preparatory step you can take is to simply chop up all of your vegetables in advance. This is a great prep step that you can always do the evening before or the morning before a meal prep.

Preparing the Meal
The first step is to get your rice cooking so that it’s ready when the gumbo is finished. Rice is quite simple to prepare, so I won’t focus on the details of that here.

The next step is to make the roux, which is essentially just a mix of flour and fat. Since we’re making a vegetarian gumbo, your fat will come in the form of a vegetable oil. Simply stir together the flour and oil over medium-high heat for about ten minutes, constantly stirring, until it begins to turn a bit of a caramel color, something like this (I perhaps added a bit too much flour to the roux here, but it’s workable).

Making roux

As soon as you have roux, add the stiffer vegetables (like the onion, bell pepper, and celery) and cook for another five minutes, stirring a lot at the start to distribute the roux, then regularly thereafter.

Cooking gumbo

At this point, add all of the remaining ingredients and about four cups of water. Stir thouroughly and then let it simmer for about forty minutes, stirring regularly.

Cooking gumbo

When everything’s finished and the vegetables are tender (the carrots are probably the best ones to check), simply put some rice in a bowl or on a plate and pour some of the gumbo on top. Delicious! We served it with a fruit medley.

Finished gumbo

Optional Ingredients
You can get away with using pretty much any vegetable in gumbo, though I would consider tomatoes and onions to be pretty essential, and okra to be nearly so. Simply use up whatever your garden is providing or whatever vegetables you can easily acquire.

If you wish to add meat, you can easily add sausage and chicken to this meal. Cook the sausage and chicken in the pan before you do anything else. Remove the meat and leave the fats behind, using them as the “fat” portion of the roux that you make by simply adding flour to the liquid in the pan after you remove the meat and stirring it rapidly.

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13 thoughts on “Dinner With My Family #33: Vegetarian Gumbo

  1. OTCW says:

    is good over rice too.

  2. mary w says:

    Yum. This time of year I’m always looking for new ways to use a trickle of different veggies.

  3. kristine says:

    Does gumbo taste OK with Olive Oil? I try to use it exclusively.

  4. EngineerMom says:

    Kristine – I’d use regular light olive oil, rather than extra virgin. It has a higher smoke point, which will make browning the roux easier to do without burning the oil. Light olive oil has a much more mild flavor, close to canola, so it should taste fine.

  5. Valleycat1 says:

    We’ve started using coconut oil for a lot of dishes. Very light taste-smells like coconut but not much coconut flavor. High smoke point.

  6. kristine says:

    Thanks Engineer mom!

    Valleycat1- Coconut oil sounds expensive. Is it? What’s the advantage other than high smoke point?

  7. Canadian says:

    If it were me I’d make sure to include a good source of protein, such as beans or lentils.

  8. Matt says:

    Instead of just 4 cups water, you could add an extra 2 cups for every cup of rice you planned to use…and then add the dry rice in after the soup got to temperature. Almost making paella, and one less pot to clean :)

  9. joan says:

    Is that a parsnip in the picture?

  10. valleycat1 says:

    #6 kristine – Coconut oil is more expensive, but since we don’t use vegetable oils (other than olive) and rarely use more than a tablespoon or two for the foods we cook, the jar lasts a long time. I find ours at our local health food store. There are those who believe coconut & olive oil, along with butter & lard, are easier for the body to digest than the relatively new to the scene vegetable oils. See the Plan D Diet or some of the paleo diet books/blogs.

  11. em says:

    We cook with coconut oil too. It can be expensive but with cooking you use so little that you can stretch the jar out. I bake with it also. That it where I use it up the most. Amazon has had some great deals on it recently (about 50% off the health food stores.) So I stocked up on it then. I don’t use vegetable oil either except olive oil

  12. Ken says:

    Although less frugal (but more convenient), you can make a roux in the oven. I just made my first one for a vegetable gumbo.

    I used my enameled cast iron. Put in equal parts of oil (by volume) and ap flour (by weight) and stir. Into a 350 degree oven for 1 to 1.5 hours. I stirred every 20 minutes while I was doing other things. Leaving it for that amount of time makes a brick roux. Very tasty addition to the dish!

  13. HebsFarm says:

    Every time you do a food post, I am tempted to beg you to please, please wipe the rim of the plate or bowl before you take the photo of the finished dish. Today is the day. It is such a small detail, but it would improve your food posts SO MUCH. Thx for all you do.

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