Monday, March 02, 2009

Gumbo z'herbes

SPRING IS COMING! The days are getting longer and the markets in Northern California are full of all sorts of amazing greens. Last week, I bought several bunches of greens and then realized: this is more than one person can/should eat in a week!

A nicely timed newsletter from Grist gave me the idea to make gumbo z'herbes. It's the traditional gumbo during the Lenten season -- all full of good seasonal green stuff and no meat. It doesn't traditionally have a roux (as a commenter corrected the writer of this other article - ignore the first recipe, the one in the last comment is much better).

Basically, you get out your two biggest pots, a whole lot of bunches of greens, take off all the stems and put them in one pot with water to make stock, chiffonade or chop or tear your cleaned greens into the other pot with some stock to start softening it. Most of the recipes call for cooking down the greens for about 2 hours before adding anything else but fail to mention that it takes about 2 hours to clean and trim your greens. Seriously!

Here's the recipe & process I used for my gumbo z'herbes:

1 bunch of beet greens
1 bunch lacinato kale
1 bunch purple spiky kale
1 bunch broccoli rab
1 bunch cilantro
a pound of tatsoi and mizuna
2 small radicchio
15 cups of chard, arugula and parsley from my yard
3-4 6" long wands of fresh oregano
lots of fresh thyme

4-6 turnips (whatever was attached to the turnip greens!) cut into 1" cubes
handful of carrots (more or less to taste) cut into 1/2" rounds

1 large yellow onion
1 lb fresh chanterelles
8-12 cloves garlic

1. Clean, remove the stems and chiffonade all the green stuff. I had 2 c. stock in the freezer from sweating out spinach-dill-garlic-onions for spanakopita, so that worked really nicely as a starter stock. I put all the stems and rejected bits into another pot and simmered it down to make a bit more veggie stock. I added a quart of store-bought veggie broth to the green stuff and continued adding veg and putting stems to the stock pot.

2. Once the green stuff cooked down, I strained it, combined all the stock and let the veg cool a bit in a bowl away from the stove.

3. Simmered down the stock more with 5 cubed turnips, and about 3/4 c sliced carrots.

4. In the other pan, I sauteed 1 onion, 1 lb of golden chanterelles (cut into big chunks), 8 cloves of garlic (pressed). Once the onions are transluscent, add the chanterelles - once they released their water, I added about 3 cups of the green stuff.

5. Puree the rest of the green stuff in my Breville blender.

6. Return all veg puree, veg/onion/mushroom mix to pot with stock, turnips and carrots. Season to taste - salt, cajun seasoning, more thyme & oregano if you have them (I have unlimited fresh thyme & oregano thanks to deleriously happy plants).

I had to do some mixing and transferring since I don't have a big enough stock pot. My biggest stock pot is 6 qts (I know - it makes preserves making challenging but keeps me from going too nuts in terms of quantity - could you imagine last year's output if I had bigger pots?)

The most time consuming part was pulling the stems and ribs from ALL the green
stuff -- I was at this since about 7pm and finished around 11pm! I ended up with my biggest rubbermaid container full of the gumbo - somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 cups.

Serve over rice - or let it cool down, refrigerate it and serve over rice the next day, in my case. Pictures coming if I can manage to not eat it all first!


Erin said...

That sounds so good - huge pot of vegetables!

You asked a while back how I knew Zachary's crust isn't vegan I think...going off recall here...and I'm horrible at answering blog comments. Anyway, I e-mailed them and they confirmed that they use "a little bit" of butter in their crusts :(

Jenn said...

LOL - yes - I e-mailed them, too!