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Please welcome SusanV from Fatfree Vegan Kitchen:
Look through any Cajun cookbook, and you’ll notice that meat or seafood is in everything, even in most of the vegetable dishes. In fact, many vegetable recipes are so heavily “seasoned” with meat that the vegetables get lost in the mix. So to my family and friends back in Louisiana, I’m something of an eccentric: a vegan, someone who eats no animal products at all. “How could you give up gumbo?” they ask. “Or jambalaya or red beans and rice?” The answer is — I didn’t!
The first thing I did after becoming vegetarian was to start adapting the recipes I grew up with to eliminate the meat and seafood. At first I used a lot of “fake meats” to try to replicate the taste and “mouth feel” of the original recipes. As time went on, I wanted to lighten up my cooking even more, to use more natural, whole foods and to reduce the fat. I’ve stayed true to the seasonings of my native cuisine, but I’ve tried to add an element of freshness.
This Chickpea Gumbo, for instance, started off life as a Chicken Gumbo — a chicken gumbo that also originally included bacon grease and smoked sausage. I’ve eliminated all of the meat — as well as the cholesterol — but kept the wonderful seasonings: the “trinity” of onions, green pepper, and celery and the spiciness of the black pepper and cayenne. And I’ve added a little Liquid Smoke to impart a smoky, ham-like flavor.
A word about the okra: Some people never get past the slicing stage of okra preparation. They see the slime oozing out, and they toss the whole batch into the garbage. But I’m here to tell you that once it is cooked, okra is not slimy at all. If anything, it helps to thicken the gumbo. So don’t be afraid. But if you can’t get over the sliminess, feel free to use frozen, sliced okra. You don’t even have to thaw it before adding it to the gumbo, so you never see the sliminess.
And a word about spiciness: This is not an extremely spicy gumbo, and for most people it will be spicy enough just as it’s written. In fact, if you know you don’t like spicy foods, you should cook the recipe without the red and black pepper or the Tabasco and add those ingredients at the end, to taste. But, if you’ve got a real “hot tooth,” feel free to add all the extra spiciness you want.
"I will be making this many more times." ~ Shawn
RECIPE for CHICKPEA GUMBO
Time to table: 60 minutes
Makes 11 cups
2 teaspoons olive oil (or 2 tablespoons water or broth)
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium green pepper, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 tablespoon flour
1 28-ounce can tomatoes, coarsely chopped, with juice
2 cups vegetable broth
16 ounces sliced okra, fresh or frozen
1 16-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon Tabasco
1 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke flavoring
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1-2 cups additional broth or water
In a large pot over medium-high heat, heat the oil until shimmery, then sauté the onions, pepper, and celery in the olive oil, stirring often. When the onions begin to get translucent, add the flour and stir continuously, scraping the bottom of the pan, until the flour begins to brown slightly. Add the tomatoes and vegetable broth, Stir in remaining ingredients.
The gumbo should have enough liquid to resemble a chunky soup; if it is too dry, add some more vegetable broth or water. Cook uncovered for at least 30 minutes, until the flavors have a chance to mingle. Remove the bay leaves and serve over rice.
To cut out the fat entirely, use a couple tablespoons of water or vegetable broth to sauté the vegetables. You may not be able to get the flour to brown without oil, so just continue with the recipe and add the broth and tomatoes.
I sometimes add a little vegan sausage along with the okra and seasonings ingredients. I use a half a package of Gimme Lean brand “sausage” and brown it in a non-stick pan before adding it.
ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
I used a whole tablespoon of olive oil with the onion, pepper and celery. When developing this master recipe for How to Make Homemade Vegetable Soup, I learned how important oil and time are to really let these aromatics turn golden, the source of so much flavor.
I used only 1/4 teaspoon cayenne and the milder green (vs red) Tabasco. Even so, the Chickpea Gumbo was plenty spicy for me, especially served with rice, which moderates the heat a little.
I used frozen okra from Pictsweet, they sell two kinds, whole okra which are AWFUL and sliced okra with tomato which are VERY GOOD! Go figure.
I used four cups of broth, then let the gumbo cook for a good hour, cooking down and concentrating flavors.
Funny thing, I didn't think the chickpeas added much flavor-wise and even texture-wise. So if you don't need the plant-based protein and would like to reduce the calories, I'd happily recommend omitting the chickpeas.
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MORE FAVORITE RECIPES for CHICKPEAS
~ Pumpkin Hummus with Honey ~
~ Hot & Sour Chickpeas ~
~ Chickpeas with Tomatoes, Spinach & Feta ~
~ Chipotle Chickpea Salad ~
~ Chickpea Gumbo ~
~ more recipes with dried beans, lentils & other legumes ~
from A Veggie Venture
~ Broccoli Rigatoni with Chickpeas & Lemon ~
~ Chickpea & Chicken Salad ~
~ Simple Hummus ~
~ more recipes with dried & canned beans ~
from Kitchen Parade, my food column
famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.
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