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I’ve never had gumbo.
A Cajun/creole restaurant located about twenty minutes from our home opened and closed it’s doors before you could say BAM! so we never had the opportunity to dine there.
It recently reopened under new management to mixed reviews.
Gumbo is not on the menu.
Time to channel Emeril but with a bit of a lackadaisical twist (albeit a tasty one)!

Not only is this a lazy Wo-Man’s gumbo but it’s a wimpy one as well.

It’s lazy because:
1) I didn’t make a roux
2) you pretty much dump all the ingredients in together and let the magic of heat do its job.
This is a perfect dish if you are short on time. It can simmer in a crock pot or on a stove top. The only cooking needed ahead of time were the red kidney beans and brown rice.

It’s wimpy because:
From my research, I have found that most gumbo recipes are alike in that they contain the “trinity” of Cajun/creole ingredients – onions, bell pepper and celery. This recipe takes it one step further in that it embodies the “holy trinity” meaning it also contains garlic.
However, you won’t see two commonly used ingredients in this recipe – okra and filé powder. These agents offer an “earthy” flavor and are used for thickening. And, that’s where the wimp in me surfaces.
I happily left those two out of the dish because I was in a rush to get a dinner assembled, have never worked with okra (the cutting and cooking of, if not done correctly, can bring about mucilage-a slime) and although I have no proof, I hold fast to the belief that filé powder can also be slimy.
ahhh, yikes…slime.
As an alternative, I deposited the cooked brown rice in the pot with all the other ingredients instead of what is often done – leaving it separate and topping it with the soup. This allowed the rice to absorb some of the liquid leaving some semblance of thickness.


Serves 8-10

8 oz small dark red kidney beans, dry
1 cup brown rice, dry
1 large vidalia onion, diced
1 bunch green onions, diced
4 stalks celery, diced
2 green bell peppers, diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
2  cans fire-roasted tomatoes (Muir Glen – 28 oz, diced)
12 cups vegetable broth
1/4 – 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, adjust to your desired heat level
2 tsp basil
2 tsp thyme
2 bay leaves
sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste (I used 2+ tsp of salt)
Tabasco or other hot sauce, amount to your liking
spinach, amount to your liking

Soak beans overnight. On the following day, add salt to a pot and cook beans on medium heat until tender. Adding salt will allow the tough skin of the bean to soften.
Rinse brown rice. In a separate pot, bring two cups of water to a boil. Add rice, reduce heat to low and simmer about 45 minutes until rice is tender.
While beans and rice are cooking, prepare remaining ingredients.
Once beans and rice are cooked, add all ingredients but the spinach in a large pot.
Simmer on low heat for the rest of the day.
About an hour before serving, add spinach.
Before serving, taste and add more hot sauce if needed.
You may want to leave the sauce on the table!

Can you convince me there are benefits to using okra and or filé powder?  I’m all ears.  Please leave a comment…