Gumbo z’HerbesPosted: May 15, 2013
My fridge was overflowing with a variety of greens from my CSA boxes. It was a little overwhelming. What the heck am I going to do with all of these greens (especially rutabaga greens)? Luckily, I remembered reading about a Cajun dish using different greens. I scoured the internets looking at dozens of recipes, each one different from the last. Gumbo z’Herbes, also known as Green Gumbo, is basically a roux, Cajun mirepoix, and a medley of greens cooked until super tender. Easy enough.
Making the roux is an important step in this dish. The darker the roux, the better. You have to stir it constantly because it will burn right fast. I aim to get my roux to be the same color as a penny. This takes some time, about 30 minutes. The effort is worth it.
Traditionally, gumbo z’herbes is made with an odd number of greens. I used 5 different types of greens in my gumbo z’herbes: rutabaga greens, collards, spinach, mustard greens, and cabbage. If you can’t find 5 different types of fresh greens, it is fine to use some frozen greens.
Initially, I set out to make this a vegan dish. Traditionally, this is a vegetarian dish eaten during Lent. I had some smoked sausage in the freezer and decided to go with it. It gave the dish a great smoky flavor. If you wanted to make the dish without meat, a dash of liquid smoke would give the dish a similar smokiness.
Gumbo z’Herbes (Green Gumbo)
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup flour
2 large onions, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups water
1 bunch each of at least 5 different greens (such as mustard greens, collards, spinach, kale, cabbage, beet tops, turnip greens, rhutabaga greens, swiss chard, sorrel, chicory, radish leaves, carrot tops, dandelion greens, lettuce [romaine, red leaf, green leaf, etc… do not use iceburg], parsley, watercress, arugula, etc….)
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon thyme
3 bay leaves
salt and black pepper, to taste
12 ounces smoked sausage (preferably Andouille), sliced
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until dark golden brown, 15 – 30 minutes. Add the onions, celery, bell peppers, and garlic and cook, stirring often, until soft, 8-10 minutes.
Add the 8 cups of water to pot. Increase the heat to high and bring to boil. Add the greens, cayenne, Tabasco, thyme, and bay leaves. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until greens are very soft, about 1 hour. Add the sliced sausage and simmer 30 more minutes.
Remove the bay leaves before serving. Serve gumbo over cooked white rice.