We’ve started getting a share from Wilson’s new CSA this summer. Last week we ended up with a lot of greens. Between the bunches of kale and chard, the leafy tops of the beets, radishes and kohlrabi and the baby arugula I decided I needed to find something that would use a lot of greens. What I found was gumbo z’herbes. Some stories claim this was intended as a meatless gumbo for folks to eat during Lent. However, a lot of the recipes call for cooking the greens in a pot with smoked ham hocks, so I guess the whole meatless thing just means no visible chunks. In any case, the version I made has meat.
There seem to be two families of gumbos, one thickened with a roux and one thickened with filé powder. I went with a roux based one because I didn’t have any filé on hand. The gumbo I made is loosely based on the one I found on a blog called Freezes Beautifully. Here it is.
5 bunches greens, chopped (I used kale, chard, beet greens, radish tops, kohlrabi leaves)
1-2lb smoked ham hocks
4 cups water or stock
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup flour
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper (about 1/2 a large pepper)
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 large shallots, chopped
3-4 Tbsp minced garlic (I would use more, but I ran out)
3 bay leaves
1tsp dried thyme
1-2 tsp black pepper
1tsp cayenne pepper
2-3 tsp salt
8 oz smoked sausage, sliced into pennies (Andouille preferred, but I ended up with kielbasa)
In a large soup pot, put the ham hock in the water or stock and bring to a boil then turn down to a low simmer. Add the tougher greens first, in my case the kale, beet greens and kohlrabi tops. Simmer for a little while. When those begin to look tender, add the rest of the greens. Keep simmering on low. You want the greens to be very tender, definitely not tough, and not crunchy.
While the greens simmer, in another pot heat the oil over medium high. Add the flour and stir until the roux turns a nutty brown. Add the chopped onion, pepper and celery. Stir and sauté until the veggies get tender. Then add the shallots, garlic, herbs, cayenne, salt and pepper. At this point you can pull the ham hocks out of the greens and stir in the roux mixture to thicken.
Now reading further on that blog post, I saw the part about it being best when refrigerated overnight and reheated. So at this point I let it cool off and put it in the fridge for the next day.
Next day I fried the sausage while reheating the gumbo, then added them to the pot. Serve the whole thing over rice with a crusty bread. Make sure to have a selection of hot sauces on hand for those that want it spicier. I’m partial to the Tabasco Chipotle sauce myself. Yum. Oh, did I mention it made enough to feed an army? Best to invite over a few friends if you can (or freeze half for later).
To use the delicate baby arugula, I made a variation on this salad from the Boston Globe magazine a few weeks ago.
Cucumber, Arugula and Nectarine Salad
juice of 1 lime
2 tsp sugar
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp cayenne
salt & pepper
1 cucumber, peeled
1 bag baby arugula
1 nectarine, diced
few tablespoons pine nuts
Whisk together all the dressing ingredients except the oil. Add the oil in a slow drizzle, whisking constantly. Set aside.
Shave the cucumber into long ribbons with a peeler. Stop when you get to the seeds in the center. Rotate the peeling around until you’re just left with the seeds. In a salad bowl toss together the baby arugula, cucumber ribbons and nectarine. Just before serving, toss with the dressing, and top with the pine nuts.