Monday-to-Friday Gumbo

Time: 20 minutes preparation 20 to 45 minutes no-work cooking time (see step 3)

This fiery number ought to wake up your taste buds on even the dullest of days. Make the gumbo in a double batch because it is so easy to do and so delicious to eat. As with all stews, it tastes even better the next day.

Ingredients

  • 3 scallions (green onions)
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 rib celery
  • ½ bell pepper, preferably red
  • 2 cans (about 16 ounces each) small red kidney or pink beans
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 can (13¾ ounces) chicken broth
  • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken or turkey breasts
  • ½ cup fresh parsley leaves
  • Salt

Method

  1. Trim and thinly slice the scallions. Finely chop the onion and the celery. Core, seed, and finely chop the pepper. Rinse and drain the beans.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over high heat until almost smoking. Add the scallions, onion, bell pepper, and celery; reduce the heat to medium and stir the vegetables around with a wooden spoon until tender, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic powder, cayenne, and thyme and stir-fry for a few seconds. Add the broth and mix it in with a whisk. Bring the liquid to a boil, then add the beans and spinach. Cover the pan and simmer over low heat at least 20 minutes to bring the flavors together. You can simmer this up to 1 hour; the longer the stew cooks, the more the flavors meld.
  4. Meanwhile cut the poultry into ½-inch cubes and mince the parsley.
  5. Right before serving, stir in the chicken and parsley; simmer until the poultry is cooked through, about 5 minutes more. Season to taste with salt and serve hot.

Variations

  1. This becomes a spicy seafood stew by substituting 1 pound crabmeat, sea scallops, or cubed monkfish for the chicken.
  2. Turn the gumbo into a spicy complementary protein dish by omitting the chicken and adding another can of beans. Serve over rice, millet, quinoa, or pasta.
  3. Add a cup or two of vegetables, such as chopped carrots or corn kernels, with the beans and spinach, and simmer along with the other ingredients.
  4. Omit the frozen spinach in step 3 and add ½ pound rinsed and chopped fresh greens, such as Swiss chard, beet greens, or kale, before adding the poultry. Simmer along with the chicken.

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