Vegetarian Gumbo with Vegan Andouille Meatballs
Gumbo is one of the most famous, most recognizable dishes to come out of Louisiana. It is to Louisiana what chili is to Texas- a signature of the culture, and a source of pride. Gumbo has been cooked in this part of the world for over 300 years, and it likely has African origins. Many food historians believe that the name comes from “ki ngombo,” the word for okra in the Central Bantu dialect in West Africa. This is where many African Americans who were stolen and forced into the slave trade came from. When these people began cooking here, they used ingredients they were familiar with and created dishes that resembled or were reminiscent of the foods they had enjoyed in their homelands. Just as it was then, today okra remains a thickening agent in many gumbo recipes.
Our in-house chef wanted to make something that tasted delicious and took all the best parts of gumbo, but made them uniquely ours in this delicious, vegetarian interpretation of a classic Louisiana gumbo. Seasoned with our delicious Cajun Maple blend, this gumbo has both the comfort of a classic and the freshness of a new take on such a staple dish. Cajun Maple gives the dish some oomph, as it has a bit of smoky sweet flavor that works beautifully with the other ingredients in the stew, particularly the tomatoes which have an inherent sweetness. Throw in our vegan meatballs seasoned with our Andouille Sausage Seasoning and you have a delicious nod to the sausage of gumbos past, without the actual meat! This seasoning adds some warming flavor to the vegan meatballs to give them a bit more depth so they can stack up against the strong flavors of the gumbo and work to complement them, but not overpower.
What’s the Difference Between Gumbo and Jambalaya?
The main difference between gumbo and jambalaya is how the rice is served. If it is served on the side, it’s a gumbo. If the rice is cooked into the stew, it is a jambalaya. The rice changes the consistency and texture of the stew, so it is the most distinctive differing factor, especially considering that most gumbos and jambalaya recipes contain the same ingredients.
Can You Make Gumbo Without Okra?
Yes, you can make gumbo without okra. While okra is often used as a thickening agent in gumbo recipes, something you can easily substitute for ground up sassafras leaves, also known as file powder.
Should Gumbo Have Tomatoes?
Gumbo doesn’t have to have tomatoes! This gumbo does have tomatoes in it, but you don’t have to add them! Traditional gumbos are made with or without tomatoes, depending on the chef and personal taste. Like all recipes, you can edit this one to suit what you like best.
- Ingredients for gumbo:
- 3 Tbsp Olive oil
- 3 Tbsp All purpose or whole wheat flour
- 1 Vidalia onion, diced
- 1 Green bell pepper, diced
- 2 Stalks celery, diced
- 3 Cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
- 4 Cups vegetable stock
- 14 Oz. San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand
- 1 ½ Cups Frozen or fresh okra, cit in 1 inch pieces
- 2 Tbsp and 1tsp Vegan worcestershire sauce
- 3 Tbsp Cajun Maple Blend
- ¼ tsp Cayenne Chile Powder
- 1 tsp Kosher Salt
- 1 tsp Black Pepper
- Ingredients for meatballs:
- 1 tsp Olive oil
- 1 Can small red beans, rinsed and drained
- ½ Red bell pepper, diced
- ½ Red onion, diced
- 2 Cups kale, chopped fine
- ½ Cup fresh or frozen peas
- ½ Cup fresh or frozen corn
- ½ Cup old fashioned oats
- 1 Tbsp Andouille Sausage Seasoning
- In a stock pot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil to medium. Add flour and whisk well. Cook about 5 minutes, whisking constantly until it darkens in color and smells nutty.
- Add onion, pepper, and celery and cook 5 minutes, or until vegetables begin to soften. Add garlic and cook an additional minute. Stir in vegetable stock, okra, tomatoes, vegan worcestershire and spices and bring to a boil.
- Lower heat and simmer for approximately 30-35 minutes or until vegetables are soft and the consistency is satisfactory. While the gumbo is simmering, make andouille meatballs. Preheat oven to 375F.
- In a saute pan, heat 1 tsp olive oil to medium high. Add onion, pepper, and kale and cook until soft. In a food processor, combine sauteed vegetables, red beans, spices, corn and peas and process until mixed well. Add old fashioned oats and process again. The mixture should be a bit sticky. If it’s too wet, add more oats and process again.
- Form mixture into 1 inch balls. Place balls on a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone pad and bake for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Serve with gumbo.