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Monday, February 8, 2010

Saintly Gumbo

Now that was a great Super Bowl!!! I am so excited that the Saints won! Wearing that itchy gold sweater for four hours was worth it. To get ready for the game, as well as dragging out the black and gold outfit (the same one I wore last year for the Steelers), I also read through a treasured New Orleans cookbook borrowed from a neighbor who cooks up the most delicious food. Everything from the first recipe to the last sounded so yummy. The cookbook read like a juicy culinary novel; hopefully, I didn't leave any drool marks on the pages.

However, most of the soup recipes had meat or shrimp and I wanted to try out a new approach to gumbo, one that I could actually convert to a veggie gumbo or to one using a sustainable seafood. Lo and behold, Mark Bittman must have been reading my mind and he published a recipe for "lighter gumbo" in last Wednesday's New York Times. I love the Wednesday NYT! Anyway, I made it on Saturday and will share the recipe and the tweaks. I think this would be lovely with tofu as well, as long as the seasonings are hearty enough. I am not crazy about tofu unless the dish is really brightly seasoned. Mark's recipe uses a more sustainable shellfish, scallops, instead of shrimp which are one of the worst seafood choices to make if you are interested in the health of the oceans (see Eating Animals in post "Are you booked?")

Here is Mark's recipe. I did think the flavors were better the next day and this gumbo also made a perfect pre-game lunch.

Saintly Gumbo
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup flour
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic
sea salt and black pepper
2-3 cups vegetable broth
2 cups chopped tomatoes with their juice (Eden Organic's cans are safe and BPA-free)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
1 tablespoon fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
2 bay leaves
cayenne to taste
Old Bay Seasoning to taste
1 pound scallops or firm tofu, cur in to bite-sized cubes
Chopped fresh parsley or other herb of choice
* Note: although not in Mark's recipe, I would add in okra!
To prepare roux (some friends chimed in here and they measure the "doneness" of roux by the number of beers consumed?!):

Put oil and butter in a Dutch oven over medium-low heat. When butter melts, add flour and cook, stirring almost constantly, until roux darkens and becomes fragrant, about 15-20 minutes. As it cooks, adjust heat so that it doesn't burn. Add onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic and raise heat to medium. Sprinkle with sea salt, pepper and Old Bay Seasoning. Stir frequently until veggies have softened, about 10 minutes.

Stir in stock, tomatoes, thyme, oregano, bay leaves and cayenne. Cover and bring to a boil, Reduce heat to a simmer and cook another 20 minutes. Add scallops and cook until no longer translucent, about 2 minutes. If using tofu, add in here as well. Remove bay leaves and taste for seasoning, making sure there is a little "kick" to the flavor from the cayenne or even a splash of Tabasco sauce.

Serve over steamed brown basmati rice and garnish with chopped parsley. Serves 6-8. Any leftovers are even better the next day!

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