There is a reason why Isa Chandra Moskowitz is the “Queen of Vegan.” Everything she does is brushed with gold & awesomeness! For this reason, I felt a little starstruck when meeting her at VVC, but she is so cool & humble! For years, I’ve relied on her countless cookbooks & The PPK to provide me with inspiration & motivation to cook vegan meals. I’ve never recreated an Isa dish that was unsuccessful. Her recipes are flawlessly written, easy to execute, & always delicious.
When I saw that I was getting okra from my CSA, I had to brace myself a bit. I’m an okra newbie. After trying it for the first time last year, I was no longer scared of this strange slimy little veggie, but still not convinced it was for me. Enter The PPK! Just about the time I learned of my okra fate, like an Angel from Heaven, Isa sent a recipe to my inbox: Okra Gumbo with Chickpeas & Kidney Beans.
I was able to turn this…
Also, as fate would have it, I’d received tomatoes, onions & a sweet pepper mix, alongside the okra- all the fresh veggies I needed to prepare this dish. I love it when that happens! I’ve never had a “traditional gumbo” so I had not idea what to expect. Here is how Isa described this dish:
A thick & tangy stew filled to the brim with veggies straight from the garden & two kinds of beans. A toasty roux, fresh tomatoes, plenty of onion & garlic, fresh thyme, & of course, okra. If you’re an okra newbie, or maybe just afraid to cook with it, this is a great recipe to start with. I use lots of veggie broth to thin the roux & cook the okra, & then reduce it with a long simmer, making for a thick velvety sauce that is not at all slimy.
Slimy. Ugh. Not an appetizing thought when it comes to food, but that is just how okra can be if not cooked properly. So, as an okra newbie, I certainly welcomed another gentle introduction, as I do remember my first experience to be a bit on the slimy side. I spent the afternoon cooking prepping & cooking, then turned off the heat, let the flavors meld, went to yoga & returned to the most warm & welcoming aroma. While at yoga, the marine layer rolled in turning the bright afternoon to grey & putting a mild chill in the air making this an even better night to enjoy the comforts of this dish.
Isa mentioned using “pink rice” in her recipe, & I just so happened to have some (from Lotus Foods) on hand thanks to my VVC swag bag, so I used it too! The flavors here are simply marvelous! Smoky, warm & comforting. This was my first time cooking with smoked paprika, & wow was it potent! The veggies & beans are melt-in-your mouth tender & the sauce was just as velvety as Isa promised. This dish is the perfect liaison into the flavors of Fall. A keeper for sure!