Vegetable Jambalaya

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This adaptation of the classic Creole dish contains no ham or shrimp, but it does capture the essential flavors of Creole cooking and is beautiful as well. The brown roux used here is a bit tricky but worth the trouble. This dish can be vegan without topping with grated smoked cheese.







Vegetable Jambalaya
Recipe type: Main Dish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
Jambalaya is more quickly prepared if you cook the stew and the roux at the same time. The roux does require about 30 minutes of close attention, but happily the stew cooks for about the same amount of time, with just occasional attention. So we suggest that you get all the ingredients chopped, measured, and ready, and start the stew. Then begin the roux while you finish the stew.
  • 3 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup carrots, sliced diagonally, ⅛ inch thick
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped red and green bell peppers (about 1 of each color)
  • 2 teaspoon dried basil (2 tablespoons fresh)
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped tomatoes, fresh or canned
  • 10 ounces frozen whole baby okra (or 2 cups fresh whole baby okra)
  • 3 cups vegetable stock or water
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ⅛-1/2 teaspoon cayenne (or to taste) chopped fresh parsley
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • ⅓ cup unbleached white flour
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • chopped parsley
  • chopped scallions
  • grated smoked Swiss or cheddar cheese
  1. For the stew, in a large stew pot, heat the oil. Add the onions, garlic, and bay leaves and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent.
  2. (Start the roux now, starting at step 7 below.)
  3. Stir in the carrots, celery, bell peppers, basil, and thyme.
  4. Sauté, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the tomatoes, okra, stock, and remaining spices.
  6. Cover and simmer gently for about 20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
  7. For the roux, in a heavy skillet, preferably well-seasoned cast iron, heat the vegetable oil; the oil should be hot but not smoking.
  8. Test the temperature of the oil by carefully sprinkling a pinch of flour onto the hot oil; if it smokes, it's too hot, so lower the heat and wait a minute; if the flour floats away, not burning, it's a good temperature.
  9. Whisk in all the flour, to form a smooth paste; lower the heat so that the roux gently simmers.
  10. Stir almost constantly, stopping only to attend to the stew; the roux will very slowly darken, so be patient and keep stirring.
  11. Cook the roux for 20 to 30 minutes, until it turns a nutty brown; don't let it burn.
  12. When the stew vegetables are tender, adjust the seasonings and stir in the roux.
  13. Simmer the stew on low heat for about 10 minutes more, taking care not to scorch.
  14. Remove the bay leaves before serving.
  15. Serve on rice, topped with parsley, scallions, and grated smoked cheese.

Variation Don't abandon Jambalaya if you don't want to make the roux. It's still
delicious. Just make the stew and when the vegetables are tender, if it hasn't thickened enough, stir in 2 tablespoons of cornstarch dissolved in ¼ cup of cold water. You won't get the same rich, dark flavor, but you will save time.