I’ve been happily continuing my summer job with the CSA once a week while I’m back at school. Every Saturday, I become one of the first kids on campus to see the morning sun, as I hop a train over to my CSA’s spot at the Glenside farmer’s market. It’s not quite the same as working on the farm, but I’m still dealing with veggies for hours at a time and tons of interesting people while I’m at it. The weekly gig makes me feel like I get to carry a little piece of summer with me. And since I dread the winter months, any part of summer, work-filled or not, makes me happy. Better yet, I also get to carry a huge bag of early fall produce with me as I catch the train that takes me back home.
Last week, the star ingredient in my bag was okra. I was never fond of the slimy stuff as a kid. But now okra gets me excited because it means only one thing – Gumbo. All its sliminess gets dissipated when swimming in a hearty stew of gumbo goodness. Instead, the diced circles of okra add a smooth thickness to the flour-traced broth. For this gumbo, I added a bunch of other garden veggies I once helped plant and pick at the farm, like peppers, green beans and corn, making it my epitome of garden gumbo. Feel free to add other veggies you have on hand, like eggplant or mushrooms. Serve it up alongside a thick slice of bread, or a flavor-soaking grain of your choice. A nice ale would do it justice too, but none of that college crap that keeps people in bed till Saturday afternoon.
-3 Tbsp. flour, browned
-2 Tbsp. olive oil
-1 jumbo onion, diced
-2 medium red bell peppers, diced
-2 cups okra, diced
-3 medium-large tomatoes, diced
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-15 oz. can kidney beans, drained
-2 cups green beans, cut into bite-size pieces
-2 bay leaves
-3 tsp. thyme
-2 Tbsp. Old Bay
-2 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
-1 tsp. salt, or more to taste, depending on the saltiness of your vegetable broth
-1 cup veggie broth + 2 cups water, or any combination of the two
-2 ears of corn
In a small pan, toast the flour over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it turns a tan color (similar to the color of whole wheat flour). Keep a close watch so as not to burn it. Remove from heat and set aside in a bowl.
In a large pot, heat oil over medium-high. Add onions, pepper and garlic, and saute until onions begin to brown. Stir spices, and saute for 1 minute. Add tomatoes, okra, broth and water, and beans. Bring to a simmer, and cook for about 40-50 minutes, or until gumbo begins to reach desired consistency. Add corn* and green beans, and cook another 15 minutes, or until beans are tender. Serve.
*If you have time, precook the corn, and use it as a garnish on top.