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Friday
Jan092015

Green Gumbo with Mushrooms (meatless Gumbo Z'Herbes)

Stumped about what to do with all the greens in your CSA box or refrigerator this time of year? Not sure how to use those gorgeous carrot greens, daikon tops, or beet greens? Make this quick green gumbo from just about anything you have. Mushrooms add rich flavor to this vegan, heart-healthy vegetable stew. 

Green Gumbo with Mushrooms (meatless Gumbo Z'Herbes uses carrot tops and radish tops and other winter greens for a lucky vegan meal)

Southern tradition says that eating Gumbo Z'Herbes with an odd number of greens will bring you luck, but this dish is so healthy and tasty you'll feel lucky no matter how many greens you use. Try a mix of collards, turnip greens, mustard greens, beet greens, radish or daikon tops, carrot tops, dandelion greens, spinach, arugula, parsley, sorrel, and good old green cabbage. Most of the time goes into washing the greens, which you can reduce by using bags of pre-washed greens.

Active time: 30 minutes. Total time: 1 hour. Makes 4 main-dish servings and 8 sides. Vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion
4 cloves garlic (about 2 teaspoons minced)
8 ounces mushrooms such as white button mushrooms or cremini mushrooms (226 grams)
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried chipotle powder or cayenne
about 2 pounds of mixed greens such as collards, turnip greens, mustard greens, beet greens, radish or daikon tops, carrot tops, dandelion greens, spinach, arugula, parsley, sorrel, or green cabbage (about 900 grams or 2 1/2 bunches total)
2 cups chickpea broth or water
1 teaspoon salt if using water
1 teaspoon filé powder (optional, see notes)
2 cups hot cooked rice or quinoa for serving (optional)

Method

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. Chop onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Mince garlic and set aside.
  2. Remove a thin slice from the stem end of each mushroom, then thinly slice mushroom in one direction and cut in half in the other direction. Stir mushroom pieces into onion mixture and cook until juicy and soft, about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic, bay leaf, thyme, and chipotle.
  3. Rinse and chop greens, working from the toughest ones such as collards, kale, and mustard to the tender ones such as arugula and green cabbage. Chop any thick stems into 1/4-inch lengths and stir into onion mixture first. Cook stems for 5 minutes, then add other greens as you get them ready, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add broth and salt if using. Cover pot and bring Green Gumbo to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low so gumbo barely simmers. Cook for about 30 minutes until greens are soft but still hold their shape. Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon file powder if desired. Taste and adjust seasonings.

    Closeup of Gumbo Z'Herbes from a quick-cooking recipes that reveals the greens texture.

  5. Serve in bowls over hot rice or quinoa. Keeps refrigerated for 4 days.

Notes

  • For a more traditional green gumbo, continue simmering it for another two hours or so. But really, if you're not cooking a ham hock, why waste the electricity?
  • Filé powder is made by drying and grinding sassafras leaves. It thickens the gumbo and adds a flavor mid-way between olives and spinach. If you don't have filé, consider topping each serving with a few chopped black olives.
  • Some green gumbo recipes start with roux, which you make by cooking a tablespoon of flour in the oil until it is golden brown before adding the onions. I leave the flour out to save a step and to please guests on gluten-free diets.
  • Cooks in Louisiana traditionally make this meatless meal on Holy Thursday to eat on Good Friday, a fasting day.  You can use it to rock Meatless Monday, celebrate Mardi Gras, or just as a reward for cleaning out your produce bin.
  • If you have just a cup or so left over, stir it into a tomato sauce to serve over pasta. It's also good on its own as a side dish. I just had some for breakfast along with peanut butter on toasted olive bread. Yum!

    Serve leftover greens like this vegan Gumbo Z'herbes with peanut butter toast for a savory breakfast or snack.

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