Gumbo Z’Herbes is a traditional South Louisiana dish which is made during Lent. While the original intention of this dish was NOT to include meat, many people in this part of the world just don’t know how to control themselves, and therefore, most of the Gumbo Z’Herbes recipes you will find DO include meat. So now you can understand with me why it is so ironic that I am actually specifying in the title of this recipe that it is in fact, VEGAN. That being said, I think I am actually the only vegan who has ever tasted my Gumbo Z’Herbes recipe. Another irony!
I have cooked this for omnivore crowds who cannot get enough, and will come back for second and third helpings. I always test my recipes on omnivores before letting you try them. And I feel it is necessary for me to tell you that Gumbo is meant for crowds. This recipe, as written, serves about 10. With a big enough stockpot, you can easily double the recipe and feed 20. So invite ya mama an’ ’em over for supper!!
Here’s what you need to get started:
Pictured below are the steps for creating your masterpiece.
- 1 cup of oil (I use olive oil)
- 1 cup of all purpose flour
- Heat the oil on medium high.
- Once the oil gets hot, gradually add the flour while whisking it into the oil.
- Whisk the oil and flour constantly. Over the course of about 30 minutes, the color should change from light khaki to semi-sweet chocolate.
- You cannot leave the roux. You must stir it constantly or it will clump and burn.
- Once the roux is browned, you can begin adding the ingredients for your gumbo or sauce piquante to the roux.
- Roux is essentially a Cajun gravy. If you have not mastered the art of making gravy, maybe practice a bit before you attempt to create a real roux based dish.
- If you have absolutely no faith at all in your ability to make a good roux, there are some store bought varieties available. They won’t taste as good as homemade, but they will do in a pinch. Just don’t tell anyone. It’s kind of embarrassing to buy store bought roux.
Vegan Gumbo Z’Herbes
- 1 recipe of homemade roux (see recipe above)
- 2 cups chopped onion
- 1 chopped leek
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1.5 cup chopped green bell pepper
- 3 or 4 cloves of minced garlic
- 4 bay leaves
- 4 tbsp Creole seasoning blend (I used a combo of Big Kevin’s and Tony Chachere’s)
- 3 tbsp dried thyme OR ¼ cup chopped fresh thyme
- 1 bunch of chopped green onions
- 3 tbsp dried parsley OR ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- ¼ cup green hot sauce (Tabasco or Louisiana Hot Sauce is preferable; or use any other that you have on hand. I used Trader Joe’s green hot sauce because it’s what I had.)
- 1 tbsp. black pepper
- 7 cups of vegetable broth
- 3 lbs. any combo of fresh greens, shredded or chopped (collards, kale, mustard, carrot tops, green cabbage, green leaf lettuce, turnip tops, beet tops, spinach, etc.) (I used collards, kale, and spinach this time.)
- 1 can of kidney beans
- 1 can of chickpeas
- 4 links of vegan sausage
- Optional veggies that can be used in this recipe: 8 oz. fresh mushrooms, black eyed peas
- Wash and chop all of your veggies before you get started with anything else. You can do this the day before to make your life easier. Once you get your roux browned, you can’t leave it on the stove to chop anything, or it will clump and burn.
- Make your homemade roux. The separate recipe is above. PRO TIP: Any gumbo recipe which does not include a proper roux is NOT authentic! You MUST start with a proper roux. Otherwise, it is NOT gumbo.
- Add your onion to the roux and saute it on medium heat until it begins to become translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add the leek, celery, bell pepper and garlic to the roux and let them cook down for about 5 more minutes. Keep stirring the roux constantly.
- Add seasonings: bay leaves, Creole seasoning blend, thyme, parsley, hot sauce, pepper. IMPORTANT: Don’t add any salt right now because several other ingredients already include salt. Wait until after you have cooked and tasted the gumbo before deciding to add extra salt.
- Add vegetable broth. Stir everything together.
- Add your shredded or chopped greens. They will need to reduce down for a while. Put the lid on your stockpot and reduce the heat to medium low. Check after 10 minutes and stir them down into the roux.
- Once the greens have reduced enough to mix well with the roux, bring the gumbo to a boil for 1 minute, stir, then replace the lid on your stockpot. Reduce the heat and let simmer on low for 30 minutes.
- At this point, begin cooking your rice separately according to package directions. Parboiled rice tastes best with gumbo.
- Check on your gumbo. If the greens are tender enough to eat, then you can begin to puree them in your food processor. I pureed half of my greens, because I prefer to have some of the greens texture in my finished gumbo. Some people will prefer to puree all of their greens. To each, his/ her own.
- After the greens are pureed, add the beans and replace the lid. Let simmer a little bit longer while you saute the vegan sausage and/ or fresh mushrooms. Saute the sausage until lightly browned, about 5 minutes on each side. (If cooking fresh mushrooms, saute them until they have reduced to about half their size.) I saute in a copper skillet, so I don’t need oil. You can use either oil or vegetable broth to saute if you don’t have a non-stick skillet.
- Add the vegan sausage and/ or fresh mushrooms and stir again.
- Taste test your gumbo. You can add salt to taste at this time, as well as any extra seasonings you desire. I added extra Creole seasoning and hot sauce, because I like it spicy. You could also just let each person add hot sauce to their own bowl for serving.
- To serve, put a mound of prepared rice in the middle of your bowl, and pour the gumbo around it.
- Optional garnish: chopped green onions.
- You will need a large stockpot, a whisk, a spatula, a large serving spoon, a food processor, a skillet, and a lot of TLC.
- You may choose to cook the greens separately and then add them to your roux, especially if you think your stockpot isn’t big enough to hold all the fresh greens and roux at the same time. However, I prefer one pot meals, so I just cook them together with the roux. Either way is fine.
- It’s important to cook the vegan sausage separately and then add it to the gumbo at the end. Vegan sausage tends to lose its flavor if you let it cook in a soup or sauce for too long. (I learned the hard way.)
- This meal would be extremely on point with a piping hot pan of homemade cornbread to serve on the side!! I highly recommend this.
- As always, if you want any help with substitutions in this recipe, write me a comment below and I’ll help any way I can.