Being in a relationship with an omnivorous girl, eventually you will run into comments like, “This is so good! I wish you could taste it!” And, of course, I could, yet I choose not to. My vegetarianism is a choice, mostly for health reasons and a general lack of trust in our country’s ability to properly take care of meat. And I’m even more worried now because apparently they’re having a hard time figuring out which farmer at Poo-Fingers Farm is touching the tomatoes. They’re tomatoes people! Growing them properly and free of bacteria and chemicals shouldn’t be that hard!
No wonder more and more people are choosing to shop at farmers markets or growing their own food. At the rate things are going, we’ll only be able to safely consume packaged products and soda.
But I digress. I decided that I would like to try Heaven on Seven‘s gumbo, just a 100% less meat version. I know most people would call this sacrilegious, seeing as how New Orleans cuisine isn’t known for being low on cholesterol, or meat. I, however, am not from New Orleans, nor am I a New Orleans chef. So I have no fears or issues about turning a meat-filled favorite into a lighter, healthier dish.
Kick THAT up a notch, Legasse!
Katie loves this dish. She says she prefers it to Heaven on Seven’s version because it is lighter, but still contains all the kick of their gumbo. Jen gave it a passing grade, and she’s engaged to someone FROM New Orleans. Someone who would probably never speak to her again if it was discovered she ate meat-free gumbo.
And the main reason I’m sharing this recipe is that I wanted to prove to a coworker who was thinking of going vegetarian that being a vegetarian doesn’t mean eating bland meals the rest of your life. In today’s market, there are so many protein recplacements that you could take practically any cookbook and adapt it to a vegetarian lifestyle. When he came back to me after trying it, he shook my hand and told me he had to call his Southern mother to tell her about the gumbo that was so good, that if he didn’t know it was meat free, he wouldn’t have guessed.
It’s about the spices people! Food is only as boring as you let it be.
The hardest part about this recipe? Doing a roux properly. It takes a while. I used the Sinful Vegetarian’s recipe, except I cheated and kept the heat higher than I should have to get it down in an hour. But I was called a “roux pussy” for taking the easy way out. A roux should take several hours I’ve been told. That may be the case, but like the rest of the country, I would actually like to be outside during the summer. So, I shall wear the badge of “roux pussy” with pride.
My next attempt will be to add some andouille spice to the sausage before cooking it using this recipe from Vegan Dad.
Vegetarian Chicken & Sausage Gumbo
Serves approx. 8, 16 oz portions
- 5 servings (2 bags) Morningstar Farms Mealstarters Chik’n Strips
- 1 lb (1 1/2 bags) Morningstar Farms Frozen Sausage Style Recipe Crumbles
- 4 tsp Cajun seasoning
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup sweet onions, diced
- 3/4 cup scallions, diced
- 1/2 cup red onions, diced
- 2 cup green pepper, chopped
- 1 1/2 cup celery, chopped
- 1 Tbsp jalapeno pepper, minced
- 1/2 tsp dried basil
- 1/2 tsp ground oregano
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 6 1/3 cups vegetable stock
- 1 cup roux (see recipe link)
- 1/4 tsp sugar
- 4 cups cooked long grain brown rice
Heat olive oil in a large stock pot. Mix chik’n with the 4 tsp of Cajun seasoning. Cook chik’n until heated through (2-3 minutes). Add sausage and cook until heated through (4-5 minutes). Add sweet onions, red onions, and scallions. Mix and cook for 2 minutes. Add green pepper, celery, jalapeno, and garlic. Mix and cook for 2 minutes. Add basil, oregano, black pepper, cayenne and bay leaf. Mix and cook for 2 minutes. Add vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Mix in roux and cook for 5 minutes. Lower heat and simmer uncovered for 1 hour. Add sugar.
Serve over rice.