Monday, November 23, 2009

Eat Your Greens Gumbo - Gumbo Verte

"Waste not, want not."
"Eat your greens."

You can heed both adages by cooking up something good for you out of things you might otherwise throw away.

Gumbo verte, gumbo z'herbes, or greens gumbo, is a gumbo made from a mish-mosh of greens. It's not pretty and it isn't fancy city food. It's down home, Southern Louisiana cooking at it's best.

Traditionally, my mom used mustard greens in her gumbo verte. This time around, I used what was in my garden -- dandelion invaders and all!

This recipe doesn't have set measurements for the greens. Just fill a pot with as many different varieties as you can find and you're all set.

The most difficult part of making gumbo verte is washing and de-stemming all the greens. I've eliminated the chopping of the greens prior to boiling them. Instead, I like to cut them up with kitchen shears when the boiling is done. Don't worry too much about cutting the greens into precise bits. Just hack away at them. They'll fall apart further during the final phase of cooking.

This gumbo, as I've written it, is not vegetarian. To make it so, simply omit the ham or salt pork. To replace the protein, add a can of rinsed and drained red or white beans at the end of cooking.

If you grow or buy lots of fresh veggies, think twice before you throw away those green tops. You might want to use them so as to cut back on waste and to "eat your greens"!

Gumbo Verte
NOTE: This recipe uses roux prepared in advance. See my post on roux here.

Boil the greens
Wash and de-stem any of the following greens in any combination to loosely fill an 8 qt pot:

  • arugula
  • beet greens
  • carrot tops
  • lettuces (red and green leaf varieties)
  • mustard greens
  • turnip greens
  • spinach
  • chard
  • radish greens
  • parsley
  • chicory
  • celery tops
  • dandelion greens
  • cabbage
  • green onions

basil (a leaf or three; not an entire bunch)
1 gallon water
1 tsp kosher salt

  1. Add the water and salt to the pot along with the greens.
  2. Submerge the greens and simmer for about 1 1/2 - 2 hours.
  3. Strain the greens and put into a bowl, setting aside the cooking water in another bowl. (You'll need the pot for your roux next.)
  4. When the greens have cooled slightly, cut them up with kitchen scissors.

Cook the gumbo
2 - 3 Tbsp roux
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 large turnip, chopped (optional)
smoked ham, ham hock or salt pork (optional)
3 large sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 can of white or red beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 tsp smoked paprika and/or a few drops of liquid smoke (highly recommended if not using smoked ham)
splash of Angostura bitters
Creole seasoning
kosher salt
file' powder
extra long grain rice, cooked

  1. Place the roux in the pot (now emptied of greens and cooking liquid).
  2. Add the onion, garlic, bell pepper and celery to the pot, and saute' until softened.
  3. Add the turnips (optional), meat (optional), greens, reserved cooking liquid, and seasonings except for file'.
  4. Let simmer on low for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  5. Remove and discard the thyme stems and bay leaf.
  6. Using an immersion blender, puree some of the greens in the pot to slightly thicken the soup.
  7. Add beans, if using, and let heat through.
  8. If using meat, remove it from the pot and chunk or shred it and return it to the gumbo.
  9. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  10. Serve over hot, cooked rice and sprinkle with file' powder before serving.

3 red beans:

Katherine Aucoin said...

I haven't heard of this before, but I know our ancestors wasted nothing! This looks so fresh.

Who Dat!

Make a Roux said...

Thanks, Katherine! How 'bout dem Saints? :P

Sam said...

Mmmmm look at all those greens. That's what I'm talkin'bout!

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