Happy Spring! Gumbo Z’Herbes recipe

A Louisiana Spring tradition

Vegan / Gluten Free


  • 4 ‐ 6 bunches of greens, including nearly any combination of at least 5 – 7 different “herbs”, such as: dandelion leaves, lovage, mustard greens, kale, escarole, turnip tops, watercress, endive, nettles, chicory, spinach, radish tops, beet greens, scallions, ramps, parsley, arugula, chickweed, nasturtium leaves, etc.)
  • 1 onion and / or shallots, diced
  • 3 celery ribs, diced
  • 1 small fennel bulb & fronds, chopped
  • 1 Anaheim or poblano pepper, diced
  • 6 ‐ 10 cloves garlic, smashed & chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Good‐sized handfuls of fresh herbs to taste, including: thyme, oregano, marjoram, tarragon
  • Dashes, to taste: ground allspice, ground cayenne, smoked paprika, ground cloves, black pepper, white pepper, salt
  • 8 ‐ 10 cups stock / broth; can include some white wine
  • Small amount of thickener (gluten free flour, corn starch or potato starch)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • Gumbo file powder, for serving
  • (Optional‐but‐not‐traditional: sliced okra, zucchini, sautéed after adding the celery but before adding the stock.)

Wash greens well to remove grit. Remove & compost tough pieces of stems, ends, etc. Chop greens & set aside (I don’t recommend pre‐boiling them as many recipes suggest – it ruins the nutrients and the beautiful green color fades!)

In a large, heavy‐bottomed stock pot make a roux of the flour and shortening. Add the onion, garlic, green pepper, and celery. Sauté for 10 minutes. Add the tarragon, thyme, bay leaves and sauté 5 more minutes.
Add the stock / broth, greens, spices, and remaining seasonings. Simmer on low heat for 1 hour. Adjust seasonings as necessary. (Keep some greens out to add at the last minute if a brighter green color is desired). Add more stock if the gumbo gets too thick.

To serve, scoop gumbo over your favorite rice (basmati, jasmine, brown, white, red, black), sprinkle a bit of the file powder on each bowl, & pass the hot sauce (smoked Tabasco is nice).

Homemade vegetable stock in progress for use in Gumbo

“Back Porch Farm” debuts at the Wagner Farm Arboretum’s Butterfly Festival

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