Wednesday, August 20, 2014


For this week's vegetarian recipe, I wanted to to use up some tomatoes, preferably in a rice dish. I thought about making jambalaya. I had also found okra for the first time this summer at the farmers market. Maybe I should fix gumbo, that other Louisiana staple? What a dilemma! So I did some research on ye interwebs. When jambalaya is made with roux (flour + fat), that's backwoods Cajun style. When made with tomatoes--a cosmopolitan import--it is Creole style. Gumbo, by contrast, is a soup, often served with rice, thickened with roux--and/or okra. Zut alors! I could make both at once, with a version of this vegetarian jambalaya recipe. Here is "Gumbolaya":

1. Put on some South African jazz, or whatever mood-music you've got lying around.

2. Realize you're short on veggies and send Dear Husband to the grocery store.

3. Mix 2 12-oz. cans of tomato paste with 4 cups vegetable stock. (We used Swanson.)

4. Heat some oil in a pot. Cry softly while chopping two little red onions. Add to the oil with some garlic.

5. Toast 1 1/2 cups brown rice in onion-garlic mixture.* Add tomato-stock broth and a couple bay leaves, broken in half. Stir well and let simmer.

6. Meanwhile, chop okra, cauliflower, and tomato(es).

7. Realize the rice is taking so long to cook because you added too much paste to the broth.

8. Prep side dishes: corn on the cob and black-eyed-peas with ribbons of kale. The latter is super easy: empty a can of black-eyed-peas into a pan (don't drain!). Heat gently while you wash and chop the kale. mix together and cook just until kale is hot but before it changes color.

9. Add vegetables to rice pot. Also some salt, Cajun seasoning, and Herbes de Provence. Taste and stir.

10. Serve hot. Curse softly at the still-hard rice.

*I liked how tomato-y the dish was, so next time I cook it I will boil the rice separately and add to the vegetable mix towards the end. Thankfully, the leftovers were not quite so bad, as the rice had the chance to soak in the sauce. I might also skip the Herbes de Provence, as I suspect the other flavors overwhelm it.

Do you have any tales of meals that worked better as leftovers?

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