I thought this was going to be a monumental event: my first recipe with celery.
Turns out, I am just forgetful. The blog never forgets, though. While I remember buying some celery while in Houston, it was obviously when I made (at least) the latter recipe.
So, I guess that is why I didn’t hesitate too much to try cooking with it again. While in New York City, Rob and I visited one of our favourite stores for spices (Kalustyan’s) and one of the many hard-to-find spices I picked up was file powder. FBC recently featured it and I suppose it permeated my consciousness. Ground up sassafras leaves, it is used primarily in Cajun and Creole cooking. Once I saw it, I knew I wanted to try something pronto.
I found this interesting okra-less version of gumbo. Instead an abundance of zucchini is used in this vegan version, along with tomatoes and celery with some hearty beans and quinoa. The recipe called for kidney beans but I used Ayocote Morado beans from Rancho Gordo. They worked well as an oversized meaty bean and its pot liquor was delicious. I wasn’t confident this was still remotely reminiscent of gumbo, but Cajun stew seemed more appropriate. The file powder added a nice earthiness and thickener to the stew but of course, could be completely omitted.
Do you use file powder? Any recipe recommendations?
1 tbsp oil of choice
1 onion, chopped
1 large red pepper, chopped
3 ribs of celery, ends trimmed and chopped
1 large zucchini (I used 3 small grey zucchinis)
14 oz can diced tomatoes, with juices
4 cups vegetable broth (I used 4 cups bean cooking liquid + 1 tsp Better than Bouillon)
1/2 cup dry quinoa, rinsed well and drained
1 tsp file powder (aka ground sassafras leaves)
1 tsp Cajun seasoning
1/4 tsp dried thyme
2 bay leaves
2 cup cooked red kidney beans (I used cooked Ayocote Morado beans from Rancho Gordo [saving the pot liquor], a cousin of the Scarlet Runner bean)
1. In a large pot over medium heat, add oil. Once hot, add onion, bell pepper and celery, stirring 1-2 minutes until slightly softened.
2. Stir in the zucchini, diced tomatoes with juices, broth/bean liquid, quinoa, file powder, Cajun seasoning, thyme, and bay leaves. Raise heat to high, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat and allow to simmer for 30 minutes, or until the vegetables and quinoa are cooked.
3. Stir in the beans and cook until heated through, around 5 minutes more. Remove the bay leaves and serve.