gumbo z :: recipe


Excuses, Excuses

10 Reasons I'm Lovin' Me Some Z

1. It's an excuse to add Mustard Greens to my already-favorites, Collards, Spinach & Dino Kale

2. It's an excuse to feed my kids mad amounts of greens

3. It's an excuse to make real stock, with a final vegetable count of, well let's see...mushrooms, onions, green beans, carrots, garlic, bell peppers, mustard, collard greens, spinach, + dino.  That would be 10.

4. It's an excuse to spend the entire day in the kitchen

5. It's an excuse to make Southern Food & be grateful for a certain favorite family

6. It's an excuse to use Gumbo File, the shavings from a sassafrass tree.  Very odd, & just plain crazy-savory-smelling.  It's like a mix of thyme, oregano & fresh pine sawdust.

7. It's an excuse to feed the neighbors

8. It's an excuse to listen to "Time Is On My Side" by Irma Thomas - a song that makes everything right 

9. It's an excuse to buy eat some crab - blue crab, no less

10. It's an excuse to be Happy

Alrighty, I called Bryant to see if he would let me share one or 2 of last weekend's recipes from Vegan Soul Kitchen, with my GF modifications, & he said I can give you the whole shebang.  Sweet.  Here's the Gumbo.  Being that I'm an always & forever Pacific Islander, I had to throw in a crab.  I'm missing my dad, & he loves himself some crab.  Anywhoo.  From the book:

Gumbo Z

Yield: 4 to 6 servings [Urban: D had 8 bowls, I had 4] 

Soundtrack: Back Water Blues” by Irma Thomas from Our New Orleans!

Gumbo Des Herbes . Gumbo Z'Herbs . Gumbo Zav . Gumbo Z

Gumbo Des Herbes was traditionally eaten as a non-meat dish during the Roman Catholic season of Lent. In addition to rue, which is used in many traditional gumbos as a thickener, Gumbo Z'Herbs included a combination of several greens (sometimes up to nine), along with other vegetables. As time passed, seafood and meats were also included in the dish to season it and add animal protein. But I’m taking it back to the old school with this one.



While I heard a lot about Gumbo Zav when I lived in New Orleans, I never tried it until I visited the city years after I moved away. Since I didn’t eat pork, I just picked out the pieces of sausage that were floating around in the stew and dived in. That ALL GREEN gumbo was scrumptious and deeply satisfying. I felt so nourished after eating those nutrient-dense greens and drinking that belly warming pot likker. I decided to create my own version—Gumbo Z.



Coarse sea salt


1 large bunch collard greens (about 1 pound), trimmed and chopped into


bite-size pieces


1 large bunch mustard greens (about 1 pound), trimmed and chopped into


bite-size pieces


1 large bunch kale (about 1/2 pound), trimmed and chopped into bite-size




1 large bunch spinach (about 1 1/2 pound), trimmed and chopped into bite-


size pieces


1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil


7 garlic cloves, minced


1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour


2 large yellow onions, cut in 1/4 inch dice


2 large red bell peppers, cut in 1/4 inch dice


2 celery ribs, halved lengthwise and chopped


1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper


6 cups Simple Stock (page xx)


1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme


1 teaspoons filé


1 tablespoon Hot Apple Cider Vinegar (page xx)


2 large scallions, thinly sliced for garnish



  • In a large pot over high heat bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon of salt.



  • Add all the leafy greens to the water, bring back to a boil, and cook uncovered, for 3 to 4 minutes, until the sulfur has escaped. Drain in a colander and cool.



  • Transfer the greens to a cutting board and chop well.



  • Combine 1/4 cup of the olive oil with the garlic in a large sauté pan over medium heat and sauté for until fragrant and starting to turn golden, about 2 minutes. Add the greens mixture, raise the heat to high, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of salt, and sauté, stirring occasionally, for 2 to 3 minutes, until well coated with oil. Set aside.



  • In a large pot over low heat, combine the flour and the remaining olive oil and cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until caramel colored, about 25 minutes. Add the onion, bell peppers, celery, cayenne, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Raise the heat to medium and sauté, stirring occasionally and scraping the bottom of the pot, until the vegetables soften, about 15 minutes. Slowly stir in the stock. Add the reserved greens, bring to a boil, and reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer until meltingly tender, about 45 minutes.



  • Stir in the thyme and simmer for an additional 2 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in the filé and the Hot Apple Cider Vinegar, and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.



  • Serve garnished with scallions over long grain brown rice.



    Elrik - remember when we were crabbing at Fort Mason with David?  




When I was about 7 my brother & I were dropping huge wok-like nets into the San Francisco Bay.  We were at the docks by the Presidio, now home to my very most favorite restaurant, Greens.  The water was maybe 30 feet below us.  We'd load up the nets with chicken shreds, lower them in, then leave them for the crabs to discover.  We'd pull up the lines slowly, so they wouldn't scramble off.  We were with a friend from church, David B.  I remember El setting up the net & loading the bait, when David took the chicken & threw it into the water, almost as if to see how far it could fly.  El was about 13.  "What are you doing?!!"  I'll never forget it.  We came from working families & were looking for a treat in those nets.  Throwing in a whole chicken was just a crazy-wrong thing to do.  (sorry) I can actually see us all so clearly, David with a shaggy mop of blond hair, not sure why he did it, my brother incredulous, in his faded black Members-only jacket (this was the early 80's) & me, about the size of a 4 year-old, in a thick wooly sweater, looking up at them like they were two adults & the world had gone mad.  After that net came up we jumped on the Muni bus & headed home.