We all know that Thanksgiving leftovers are one of the best things ever invented. It doesn't matter what it is. "Leftover dressing? Sure! Can I have some gravy on that?" Even if you're plant-based, like us, you might have something that closely resembles leftover poultry, and another sandwich isn't quite cutting it. Um, maybe soup?
That's where Gumbo shines so brightly. Growing up in the South, I became aware of Gumbo, sorta. It wasn't until I had occasion to spend time with later-in-life friends in Sulphur, Louisiana that I got more of a Gumbo education. The Gumbo there is thickened with a roux ( or filé powder or the Okra itself) and is much darker than it's Gallic cousins ... it's thought by some that Gumbo has its' roots in French Bouillabaisse.
Yup. That's me. In Ouidah, Benin, on the way to my friend's house in Come, near the border of Togo. West Africa is where you can get a Ph.d in Gumbo.
Then, when a certain 'daughter by choice' came into our lives, from West Africa, my Gumbo literacy was further refined. You see, "gumbo" is simply one word West African's use in referring to 'okra'. The original word was okuru, from the Igbo language of Nigeria. Those odd, tough, tasty pods of seeds and well, slime.
This is all a rather round-about way of getting to Turk'y-ish Gumbo as a deliciously healthy way of putting those holiday leftovers to work.
Since I'm doing this post, ahem, before the actual 'day', I had to use a handful of frozen Quorn Meatless Pieces - which are my favorite 'go-to' for fast poultry-like plant protein. Another great stand-in is the Gardein Meatless Chik'n Strips. I tossed a coin and the Quorn was closer in the freezer and I didn't have to dig for it. You could also use Seitan (I make my own, BTW) or 'green', drained (from cans) Jackfruit.
Then, I pulled out enough frozen okra and corn from bags in the freezer and prepped some fresh peppers, celery, onion, and garlic. I normally have several types of peppers on hand: Anaheim, Poblano, sweet peppers of many colors. Finally, I wandered out to the garage where I put the last of my tomato vines at the end of the season. I harvested the ripest and even a few green ones. This is a perfect place to use those!
Assemble your herbs and spices. I love the Summer Garden Blend from the Spice House in Chicago and buy it by the large bag, which I keep in the freezer to refill my small jar. It's killer on any vegetable dish. Then, ground celery seed and Bay Leaf. You'll want Tabasco Sauce, too. And, vegan broth.
Sauté your vegetables using splashes of broth (or water) to keep things moving and not sticking. Start with two cups of rich broth. You can add more after you sauté the vegetables and protein, or water. Your choice.
Season as you cook. Smell. Take in those aromas. Taste. Adjust. I often will - here's the confession - lick the spoon that you see there. Does it taste 'right'? Okay, not when there's 'company'. But, really? 'Company' during the pandemic?
Now's the time to add your broth. Let the whole glorious mess simmer - very low! - for at least 30 minutes to an hour. I let it do that, cooled it, and put it in the fridge for the next day. It tasted amazing. And, here's another cool thing - remember I told you about 'batch cooking'? If you're going to make beans, rice, pasta - make enough for another meal? Yeah. I can have this au naturel one meal, with pasta another, and with beans or rice - or BOTH! - on the tail end, when the soup is almost gone.
So, plan now for a Turk'y-ish Gumbo and it will serve you very well, indeed.
Here is your basic ingredient list:
Vegetable broth/water - start with 2 cups and add enough for your ingredients.
Plant-based 'chicken' protein - 1 to 2 cups.
Diced, seeded, peppers of your choice - 1 to 2 cups.
Chopped celery - 2-3 stalks.
Chopped onion - One onion.
Minced garlic - 3-5 large cloves.
Chopped tomatoes - 4-5 medium.
Okra (frozen is fine!) - 1-½ cups.
Corn (frozen is fine!) - 1 cup.
Tabasco Sauce - to taste
Ground celery seed - about ½ teaspoon.
One dried Bay Leaf, or about 1/8th tsp. ground.
Summer Garden Blend, or about ¼ to ½
tsp each: Oregano, Basil, Marjoram.
A squeeze or two of tomato paste from a tube, or 1-2 tablespoons.
Salt to taste.
Feel free to download and print the recipe below:
This button will take you to PayPal where you can securely pop a bit in the 'tip jar'.