Weeknight Gumbo

The rich, savory spice of silky tomato broth gives this quick gumbo just enough kick to make it both comforting and adventurous. Succulent shrimp and sausage offer decadence, but it is also chock full of veggies. A scoop of rice helps to balance everything and keep the kiddos happy.

Flourish separator

When my kids discovered Disney’s The Princess and the Frog, they sang along with Louis the Alligator, cried when the firefly died, and asked me to make them beignets and gumbo.  Although I admit that fried dough covered in powdered sugar is probably wondrously delicious and worth the effort, I figured that I’d capitalize on their desire to try one of Tiana’s recipes that slip in both veggies and seafood.  

This recipe is adapted from Joanna Gaines’s Magnolia Table: Volume 2 cookbook, although I have made quite a few changes to accommodate my family’s palate.  I could slurp this luscious, thick broth every day and not get bored.  You can easily adjust the heat as well as the protein.  Sausages can range from mild kielbasa to spicy andouille, and if you like more seafood, go ahead and stir in some lump crabmeat with the shrimp.  You could even omit the sausage and seafood and add some shredded rotisserie chicken instead if that is more your family’s speed, or make the dish strictly vegetarian.  You can’t go wrong, as it will still be delicious.  Feel free to use shortcut microwaveable rice for convenience, as well.  This easy but elevated meal is quick enough for a weeknight but fancy enough for company.  I’m not sure it measures up to how it’s done in New Orleans, but it definitely warms the bellies of our little guppies.

Weeknight Gumbo

1 tbsp olive oil

14 oz smoked sausage, kielbasa, or andouille sausage

2 cups frozen sliced okra

3 tbsp butter

1 small onion, diced

1 bell pepper (any color), diced

2 stalks celery, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 tbsp all-purpose flour

1 quart chicken or vegetable broth

1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp Old Bay seasoning

½ tsp salt

1 lb fresh or frozen shrimp, peeled and deveined 

1 cup frozen corn

¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped

Cooked white or brown rice, for serving

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Slice the sausage into chunks or rounds and fry in the oil until it begins to brown.  Add the okra and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Warning: the okra will look slimy as a frog at this point, but don’t worry!  The slime factor will not be present in the finished product, I promise.  Turn off the heat and set aside.

In a heavy-bottomed soup pot or dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the diced onion, bell pepper, and celery, and sauté until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add the minced garlic, then sprinkle in the flour and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly.  Pour in the broth and tomatoes, scraping up the roux from the bottom of the pot if necessary, then add the Worcestershire, Old Bay seasoning, and salt.  Slide in the sausage and okra and simmer, uncovered, about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the shrimp, corn, and parsley and simmer for about 5 more minutes until the seafood is cooked through (add a few more minutes if using frozen or very large shrimp).  Taste to adjust seasoning, then ladle into shallow bowls and top with warm rice. 

You know the thing about good food?  It brings folks together from all walks of life.  It warms them right up, and it puts little smiles on their faces.  

- The Princess and the Frog                     

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