I want it to feel more like autumn. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for the cooler mornings and evenings. But where I live it keeps cranking back up into the mid-nineties and beyond. It’s September and I’m ready to feel a chill in the air.
Some of you who live far in the north want the warmth as long as you can have it, but in North Carolina it’s been extra hot this summer and I’m ready for a few cool breezes. The leaves are starting to change, but it’s still like a sauna most of the time.
I’m already getting winter squashes in my CSA and have a giant bowl full of baby butternut and acorn squash. The taste of them and the bright orange color scream fall to me. I decided to go ahead and make a bowl of autumn in this vegan butternut squash okra gumbo. Maybe it will lure the cooler weather in.
This is a Cajun gumbo, so it does not contain any tomatoes. The roux is what thickens the gumbo and gives it a deeper flavor. Butternut squash isn’t a traditional ingredient, but I think it works well.
I used a homemade vegan andouille sausage that’s in The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook for Your Instant Pot, so I can’t share it here. But you can order the book here or there are a few vegan brands that make it too.
Want a hands off gumbo? Then try this Slow Cooker White Bean Quinoa Gumbo instead.
Vegan Butternut Squash Okra Gumbo with Brown Rice
In this recipe we slow cook a roux as the base. If you want to make this oil free, you can forgo it, but it will be more like a delicious soup.
for the roux
- 1/4 cup avocado oil (or other mild oil)
- 1 cup unbleached white flour (or you can use white whole wheat)
for the saute
- 3/4 cup minced onion
- 3/4 cup minced bell pepper
- 2 teaspoons garlic
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons regular paprika
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper (or to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon to 1 tablespoons ground cayenne pepper, to taste
for the simmer
- 8 cups water
- 3 cups sliced okra
- 2 cups cubed butternut squash
- 2 cups chopped vegan andouille sausage or your favorite cooked beans
- about 4 cups cooked brown rice (1/2 cup per serving)
- Tabasco or other vinegar based hot sauce
Make the roux
- In a large soup pot,over low heat, add the oil and flour and mix well. You will slowly toast this mixture. It will start out a pale white and then after about 15 minutes it will be a light brown. After 15 more it will be more maple colored.
- The most important thing is to not let this burn and stir often throughout the roux cooking process. If you burn it you must throw it out and start again. So go low and slow. Since this process takes about 30 minutes I like to prep my veggies while this is cooking. Cut a little, stir the roux, cut some more, etc.
- Once the roux is a medium brown and begins to smell almost like toasted nuts, add in the the onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Turn up the heat to medium low, stir and saute until the veggies begin to soften.
- Add in the herbs and spices. You can leave the salt, pepper, and cayenne to add before serving if you want. Or start small and add more at the end if you're not sure how you like it yet.
- Add the water, okra, butternut squash, and andouille or beans. Cover and let cook over medium-low heat until the okra and squash are soft, about 20 minutes.
- Taste and re-season salt, pepper, and cayenne as needed. I make ours very mild since I'm the only one in my householdwho likes spicy food. I just add in lots of hot sauce to my bowl.
- Serve topped with rice and hot sauce on the side.
- Note: this freezes well too, so I make up containers with th gumbo and rice to freeze for grab and go lunches!