This hearty and flavor-packed vegan gumbo is made with roasted sweet potato chunks and red beans, simmered in a Cajun spiced tomato broth.
Cajun food is one area of cuisine I'll admit I know very little about. From what I do understand, that might be because it's not the most veg-friendly food.
I guess Terry Walters must feel the same way, as she confesses to having "broke all the rules" with this recipe. With that in mind, I can't comment on the authenticity (though I'm assuming it must be lacking), but taste wise, this stuff was bomb.
A bit about the cookbook: Eat Clean Live Well. The first thing I noticed was that it's just beautiful. The photos are of the type that I might include in a Pinterest food photography inspiration board. This particular dish is not pictured in the book, so I didn't have the worry of some amazing work of art to contend with. I hope my pics at least convey how tasty this vegan gumbo was.
Then there's the food. The recipes are organized by season, which I love. This is a big deal to food dorks like myself, but it's also a great way for the novice chef to get acquainted with eating seasonally. Each section also includes an intro with a discussion on clean living during that particular season.
The dishes are enticing, whole food based, and all vegan and gluten free. A few that I've got bookmarked for other times during the year:
Spring - Tempeh Reuben Casserole
Summer - Black Bean Mango Tacos
Fall - Roasted Squash, Caramelized Shiitake and Shallot Lasagna
And that brings us to...okay, it's not technically winter yet, but there's snow on the ground outside my house. Also, I reeeeeaaaly wanted to make this one. How could I resist vegan gumbo? With sweet potatoes!? I'm glad I didn't, because this stuff was so worth it. It was super flavorful and smelled like heaven simmering away on my stove top. The roasted sweet potato chunks were the perfect texture and flavor compliment to go along with this spicy Cajun stew. The recipe makes a big old batch, so if you live in a small household like me, you'll have vegan gumbo for days, which is good, because the leftovers are fantastic. See how my version is a little brothy? I could have gone heavier on the rice in that bowl, but also...dish this out on day 2 and everything will have sucked up the juices.
Sweet Potato Gumbo + Eat Clean Live Well Cookbook Review
- 1 cup uncooked wild rice
- 3 cups water
- 3 cups peeled and cubed sweet potatoes
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion chopped
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 2 celery stalks chopped
- 1 large green bell pepper chopped
- 3 cups cooked kidney beans
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne
- 1 ½ cups diced tomatoes with their juices
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon arrowroot dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
- 6-8 dashes hot sauce
- ½ cup chopped scallions
Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place wild rice and water in pot or rice cooker. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered until water is absorbed (about 40 minutes). Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly. Fluff with wooden spoon when cool.
Meanwhile, place sweet potatoes in bowl, drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and spread in single layer on prepared baking sheet. Roast 20 minutes or until caramelized and soft (time will vary depending on size of cubes). Remove from oven and set aside.
In large Dutch oven over high heat, brown onion, garlic, celery and bell pepper in remaining tablespoon olive oil until soft (3 minutes). Reduce heat to medium, add kidney beans, thyme, paprika, salt, pepper and cayenne and stir. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, vinegar and vegetable stock and stir to combine all ingredients. Submerge bay leaves and bring soup to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add roasted sweet potatoes to soup and stir in dissolved arrowroot. Simmer 2 minutes longer, then remove from heat. Discard bay leaves and season with hot sauce.
Place a spoonful of rice in the center of each soup bowl, ladle gumbo around rice and serve topped with chopped scallions.
I just noticed that this recipe from the "early days" of your blog didn't receive any comments... Last night I came over from your "Vegan Gumbo with Andouille Red Bean Meatballs" recipe (as I didn't have any ocras that are not sold quite frequently over here in Germany) that you recently posted on Facebook. As I - many years ago - spent some time in the Cajun area I'm a bit familiar with this cuisine and spent kind of a "Gumbo night" with this receipt (with playing music of the likes of Dr. John, Duke Robillard, Coco Robicheaux, Champion Jack Dupree while cooking and dining...)
I made some - very few - changes. I used "ordinary" long grain rice and left the vinegar and the arrowroot away, everything else exactly as it is written. It was really delicious.
In your article you are questioning the "authenticity" of this recipe. Black rice, as in Terry Walters' original recipe, is rather unknown for Cajun dishes (they are, at times, serving "dirty rice" @Google). I'm having the German translation of a book called "Cajun Cooking" by Marjie Lambert, originally released by the UK Quintet publishers in 1993 (you can still find it at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Cooking-International-Cookbook-Marjie-Lambert/dp/0517065487, I think it's the US edition from 1991). In this book you find quite a few vegan dishes and more others that can be easily "transformed" to vegan variations. My favorite of her vegan recipes is simply called "Red Beans and Rice without Meat" ;-) ).
Due to my mentioned criticism I'm rating this recipe with "only" four stars. Nevertheless I was having a wonderful "Cajun night" over here in Southwest Germany... Thanks!
Alissa Saenz says
I'm glad you enjoyed this as part of your Cajun night! I really enjoyed this one too! Terry Walters is totally upfront about this being an inauthentic Cajun dish in the book. I've learned a bit about Cajun cooking since originally posting this recipe, and I can definitely see where she added her own personal twist to the dish. I'll check out that book you mentioned - it sounds like a great source of recipe inspiration!
I'm quite sure that you will like Marjie Lambert's book. It's an introduction to Cajun cooking, it's explaining the basic techniques and ingredients, describes many delicious dishes (as said before, some of them are vegan or can be easily "veganized") and... it makes a really good reading (like your recipes!).