Last year, I developed a delicious recipe for vegan étouffée (a rich and spicy cajun stew) in which I used roasted cauliflower, seasoned with saffron and Cajun spices in place of shrimp and crawfish. I’d been skeptical that the cauliflower would add anything to the dish, but it really held its own and, surprisingly, shined as a toothsome vehicle for the smokey, multilayered flavor of the gravy.
The other day, just as the air outside was beginning to take on a cold edge, I was hit with a sudden and intense craving for a big, hearty bowl of gumbo, another one of my favorite New Orleans treats. Using my étouffée recipe as a base, I cooked the roux a few extra minutes to a deep chocolate brown, added a bag of frozen okra, and an extra couple cups of veggie broth. The end product was a perfect, warming meal to kick off the fall season.
Vegan Gumbo with Roasted Cauliflower and Seitan Andouille
1 head of cauliflower
1 tablespoon (or less) olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay
1 (.13 gram) packet of saffron powder, divided
1 large pinch of sea salt
4 cups vegetable broth
1 tablespoon sherry
1 teaspoon sugar
2 Andouille-style seitan sausages, sliced (store bought,or see my recipe here)
1 tablespoon vegan butter or oil of your choice
1 tablespoon flour
1 small white onion, chopped finely
1 small green pepper, chopped finely
2 teaspoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)
1/2 teaspoon (or more) paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1 splash Louisiana Hot Sauce
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- Chop cauliflower into bite size florets. Toss with enough olive oil to coat, and season with Old Bay, a pinch of the saffron powder, and salt. Roast on a cookie sheet for about 45 minutes, checking and stirring every 15 minutes, until all pieces are well-browned.
- While the cauliflower is roasting, heat the vegetable broth, sherry, a pinch of saffron, and sugar and bring to a simmer. (I use the sugar to evoke the natural sweetness of seafood).
- Heat a splash of olive oil in a large Dutch oven and brown sausage slices, then remove from pan and set aside.
- Make roux in same pot: Melt butter in a large Dutch oven, scraping up any browned bits of sausage stuck to the bottom of the pan. Stir in flour gradually until the consistency of gravy, adding a touch more butter if it appears too thick. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the color of chocolate.
- Stir the pepper and onion into the roux and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Cook until the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in tomato paste and season with the rest of the saffron packet, nutritional yeast, and remaining spices.
- Add warm broth gradually by the ladle, stirring well until incorporated.
- Empty bag of frozen okra into the pot.
- Bring mixture to a simmer, being careful not to allow it to boil. Simmer for at least 15 minutes until the peppers are soft, the onions are no longer visible, and the gravy is thick.
- Stir in roasted cauliflower and sausage. Simmer for an additional 10 minutes, allowing the cauliflower time to soak up the gravy.