This meatless gumbo has a distinct Louisiana flavor, thanks to the roux, Creole seasoning and the “holy trinity” of Creole cooking (onion, celery, bell pepper). Gumbo is traditionally made with a variety of smoked meats and seafood, but this version gets an added bit of smokiness from an optional splash of liquid smoke. Here, the okra is roasted in the oven before being added to the pot, which eliminates the gooeyness. There is also no skimping on vegetables in this gumbo, and the red lentils thicken it while adding protein. Serving this gumbo over white rice helps make it a complete meal.
- Serves: 4 persons
- 1(10- to 16-ounce) bag frozen sliced okra
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 5tablespoons unsalted butter or vegetable oil
- ¼cup all-purpose flour
- 1tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1yellow onion, diced
- 2celery ribs, thinly sliced
- ½green bell pepper, diced
- 3garlic cloves, minced
- 1teaspoon Creole seasoning, plus more to taste
- 1teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
- 1(14-ounce) can diced tomatoes with their juices
- 3cups vegetable or chicken stock, plus more as needed
- ½cup red lentils
- 1tablespoon hot sauce, plus more to taste
- 2teaspoons liquid smoke (optional)
- Cooked white rice or quinoa, for serving
Step 1Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place the frozen okra in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet, breaking up any large clumps, and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Roast, until cooked through and just starting to brown, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Step 2As okra roasts, prepare the roux: Melt the butter in a cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. (Either vessel will help evenly distribute the heat for a better roux.) If using vegetable oil, simply heat over medium. Using a heatproof rubber spatula or wooden spoon, mix the flour into the fat. Stir continuously, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pot so the roux does not burn (a burned roux cannot be saved), until the roux transforms from pale to peanut butter to a rich cinnamon color, about 7 minutes. Remove the roux from the heat and set aside. (Pull the pot from the heat just as the desired color is reached; the retained heat will continue to cook the roux slightly.)
Step 3Add the olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add the celery and bell pepper, and cook until softened, another 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Lastly, add the Creole and Old Bay seasonings, and stir so that they coat the vegetables and are lightly toasted, about 1 minute.
Step 4Stir in the diced tomatoes, stock and lentils. Bring the ingredients to a boil, then reduce the heat to a light simmer. Cover and allow the lentils to cook undisturbed for 15 minutes. (Add more water or stock if needed.)
Step 5Add the okra and cook uncovered until softened, another 5 minutes. Stir in the hot sauce, and the liquid smoke, if using. Give the cooled roux a good stir and add it to the pot, making sure to mix it in thoroughly, then simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning by adding salt, pepper, creole seasoning or hot sauce, if desired. Serve warm over white rice or quinoa.