I always do a quick survey of my CSA produce in the middle of the week to see what I have left and what needs to be eaten sooner than later. During one of these inventory review sessions, I realized I had a bunch of okra, bell peppers, jalapenos, and tomatoes that I had to use right away, or they would go bad in a few days. Because I'm sort of a Six Sigma black belt in the kitchen, I immediately thought that making gumbo would be the perfect way to use ALL of the ingredients in one big, hearty dish that could be great for dinner and easy to pack for lunch.
I've never made gumbo before. In fact, I've always imagined the process to be a laborious one. And I didn't have a recipe for gumbo either. But for some reason I figured I had eaten enough to guess at how to make it (and how to make it fast), and it turned out great. (So although this may be far from authentic, it still had that good gumbo flavor and heat.)
I had a pound of chicken thighs and a pound of spicy sausage in the fridge. I cut them into bite-sized pieces and browned them in a heavy saucepan. I put the meat aside, and I sauteed some minced garlic and added three diced bell peppers to the pan, as well as a few stalks of celery (which I also diced). I added the meat back in the pan, and I poured in a quart of chicken broth. I brought it to a boil, then I added in sliced okra, diced tomatoes (I diced up two large tomatoes), and one finely chopped jalapeno for some heat. I stirred it all together, seasoned it with salt and pepper, and lowered the temperature and covered the pan -- letting all the flavors simmer together (and softening the okra).
While the gumbo was working, I cooked a cup of brown rice to go along with it. Then about 15 minutes later, I had a hot, spicy gumbo and steaming brown rice ready to serve and eat. And, as planned, I had enough for a delicious lunch the next day. #nosaddesklunch
Now I can't wait to get another overload of okra, bell peppers, jalapenos, and tomatoes. I'd like to get some good Andouille sausage next time, and I could even bump up the spice level another notch or two. Fast gumbo FTW!