Classic Vegan Gumbo

October 24, 2018


Author Notes: If I had to pick one recipe that really pulls from my heartstrings, it would have to be classic gumbo. I grew up eating the recipe and I remember when I was about 14 or 15, I asked my mama how to make it. She happily showed me, taking pride in each and every step. From that point on, I always made gumbo for my friends. What I didn't realize at that moment was that her teaching me how to make the classic recipe was about so much more than simply cooking a stew- she was showing me the importance of taking your time, showing your recipe love, and take pride in cooking. At the end of the day, this is what truly makes a recipe—not simply following a list of instructions. It's about caring.

With regards to the recipe itself—I know a vegan gumbo might sound weird or counterintuitive to some. But if you ask anyone who makes a mean gumbo what really creates the magical foundation of this legendary stew, they will most likely say that it’s a combination of the roux (browned flour and oil) the trinity (onions, bell peppers, and celery) the herbs (thyme, oregano, cayenne pepper, paprika, white pepper, and bay leaves), and the most important ingredient of them all: okra. And what do you know: all of these ingredients are plant-based and therefore vegan! Plus, the word “gumbo” translates to “okra” in various West African dialects, which for me is the clearest argument that the recipe revolves around a plant-based ingredient, not meat or seafood.

The point I am trying to make here is that it's time for people to open their eyes and minds to what plant-based cooking can look like. We need to all let go of the antiquated boundaries that have been set on food and recipes. We need to stop focusing on what is different about a recipe and rather ask, "Is it delicious and was it made with love?"

Excerpted from Mississippi Vegan © 2018 by Timothy Pakron. Photography © 2018 by Timothy Pakron. Reproduced by permission of Avery. All rights reserved.
Timothy Pakron

Serves: 8
Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 1 hrs 30 min

Ingredients

Gumbo

  • 2 cups chopped onion (1 medium)
  • 2 cups chopped celery (about 4 large stalks)
  • 1 ½ cups chopped green bell pepper (about 1 large)
  • ½ cups diced red bell pepper (about 1 small)
  • ½ cups minced garlic
  • 8 cups vegetable broth
  • One 14.5 ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • ½ cups red wine
  • 1 tablespoon tamari
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon ume plum vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons plus ½ cup chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon minced jalapeno pepper (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon stone-ground mustard or Creole mustard
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1 cup peanut oil
  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 recipe Creole Spice Blend
  • 6 to 8 bay leaves, depending on size and desired amount
  • ½ cups chopped green onions, plus more for garnish
  • 2 cups to 3 cups chopped okra, or desired amount
  • 1 pinch sea salt, more to taste
  • 1 pinch cracked black pepper, more to taste
  • 1 cup to 2 cups filtered water (optional)
  • 3 cups to 4 cups cooked rice, for serving

Creole Spice Blend

  • ½ cups nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon smoked or plain sea salt
  • ½ teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoons dried ground sage
  • ½ teaspoons ground white pepper
  • ½ teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper
In This Recipe

Directions

  1. In a bowl, combine the onion, celery, bell peppers, and garlic. Remove 1 ½ cups of this mixture and transfer to a separate bowl (you’ll add this to the gumbo toward the end). Set both bowls aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the vegetable broth, canned tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, wine, tamari, tomato paste, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, 2 tablespoons of the parsley, the oregano, thyme, jalapeno, if using, mustard, and liquid smoke. Set aside.
  3. Now you are ready to make the roux! In a large clean, well-greased cast-iron skillet (be sure to wipe out any residue), heat the peanut oil over medium-high heat. Once it’s hot, add the flour and stir constantly with a large wooden spatula, until it is well combined. Reduce the heat to medium and continue stirring until the roux is dark brown, 15 to 20 minutes. The goal here is to toast the flour and oil while preventing the mixture from burning. You do this by moving the flour and oil mixture constantly. If you stop for only a moment, the roux will burn and you will have to start over.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the larger amount of the onion mixture (not the reserved 1 ½ cups). Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until the vegetables are soft, 5 to 7 minutes.
  5. Make the Creole spice blend. Mix all of the ingredients together in a small bowl until well combined. Add the spice blend to the vegetables and mix well. Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently, toasting all of the spices. Now you have the base of your gumbo!
  6. Transfer the base to a large stockpot. Add the broth mixture and bay leaves. Mix well and bring to a boil, stirring often to prevent the bottom from burning. Once at a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, to reduce and thicken the gumbo.
  7. Add the green onions, okra, the remaining ½ cup parsley, and the reserved 1 ½ cups onion mixture. If desired, add 1 to 2 cups water to loosen the gumbo. Simmer for another 20 minutes Give the gumbo a taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Feel free to add more cayenne pepper at this point to make it spicy as well.
  8. To serve, ladle the gumbo into serving bowls, removing any bay leaves. Add a small scoop of cooked rice on top and garnish with the chopped parsley and green onions.

More Great Recipes:
Stew|Southern|Cajun/Creole|Vegan|Vegetarian|Dinner