While traditional gumbo gets its thick texture from making a roux at the start of the recipe, for my vegan gumbo interpretation achieves a similar consistency from mixing some mashed yams into your bowl at the very end. No flour means that it’s gluten-free too. Keep in mind that this is a very loose interpretation of the classic recipe, because its vegan gumbo. It’s meant to be different, so I like to use large chunky ingredients to give a gumbo-ish experience.
My gumbo mentor has been the late legendary Creole Chef Leah Chase. She passed away this year but I’m fortunate to have known her via YouTube. Your can watch her make gumbo the traditional way as a reference point to understand the context of what I’m trying to emulate.
My vegan gumbo recipe includes making your own vegetable stock specifically with the skins from the yams. You can buy vegetable stock or just it or make your own using vegetable shavings from previous cooking projects. Gradually store any vegetable peels, skins, cores and stems in a produce bag in the freezer so you will have them for this recipe. While making the stock it’s super important to maintain a low boil 90 percent of the time to preserve as many nutrients as possible.
Ingredientsfor vegan gumbo
For the Mashed Yams
• 2 large yams
• 2 Jalapeño peppers
• 1/2 leek, chopped
• molasses (no more than 1 teaspoon)
• kosher salt ½ tsp
• olive oil
For the Vegetable Stock
• 2 bunches of parsley with stems (set aside a few stems of parsley for serving)
• ½ tsp black peppercorns (for vegetable stock)
• skins from the yams
• 1 head of garlic, sliced crosswise
• any miscellaneous vegetable shavings of your choice
For Everything Else
• ½ cup black eyed peas, dried
• 10 cups vegetable stock
• 8 – 10 whole canned tomatoes
• 1 (14 oz.) can plain tomato sauce
• 2 cloves garlic, sliced
• 8 tabasco peppers peppers in vinegar + 1tbs tabasco vineger
• 2 tsp, freshly ground black pepper
• ½ tsp, freshly ground allspice (Jamaican pimento)
• corriander ½ tsp, freshly ground
• kosher salt 2 tbs (or to taste)
• 1 bay leaf
• fresh thyme
• 1/4 cup long grain rice
• approx. 1 pound of fresh okra
For the Mashed Yams
1. Peel the yams and cut into ½ inch cubes. Set the skins aside for the vegetable stock.
2. Dice the jalapeño peppers – with the seeds and ribs – and half of one leek. Set aside the remaining leeks.
3. Combine yams, diced jalapeño peppers and leeks, and molasses in a medium bowl and mix with just enough olive oil so everything is evenly coated. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of kosher salt.
4. Preheat and oven to 350 degrees. Transfer to a flat baking pan and roast until yams are slightly carmelized, or until desired doneness, about 40 minutes.
5. Remove from heat and transfer cooked yams to a medium bowl. Mash into a desired texture and set aside.
For the Stock
1. Cut the remaining leeks into quarters and the bunches of parsley into halves.
2. In a large pot, combine leeks, parsley, skins from the yams, peppercorns, head of garlic, and any other vegetable shavings.
3. Fill pot with water to ¾ full and bring to a brief boil on high heat.
4. Boil for a few minutes then reduce heart to low. Continue a low boil until vegetables are limp – approximately one hour, stirring occasionally.
5. Strain the stock with a fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth over another large pot to preserve the liquid. If using a cheesecloth, squeeze the cooked vegetables to extract as much liquid as possible.
For Everything Else
1. In a large pot, add the 10 cups of the vegetable stock and the black-eyed peas. Bring to a brief boil (about 3 minutes), then turn down to a low boil.
2. Everything in the vegan gumbo large and chunky. Slice the whole tomatoes crosswise and add them to the mixture, along with the garlic, tabasco peppers, tabasco vinegar, black pepper, allspice, corriander, kosher salt, and bay leaf. Continue to cook on low boil until black-eyed peas are tender, about one hour.
3. Slice okra crosswise into ½ inch wide pieces. Omitting tips and caps is completely up to you. Some people like to leave them in but I prefer not. Add the rice and okra, continue to cook on low boil for another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Keep the “gumbo” on simmer until serving time. Prior to serving chop mix in some freshly chopped parsley.
4. Serve with mashed jalapeño yams in a separate serving bowl for people to mix into their gumbo serving as they choose.
Yield: 6 – 8 servings