Frank’s Gumbo Z’herbes: A Good Friday Classic Meal

1 bunch collard greens

1 bunch mustard greens

1 bunch turnip greens

1 bunch baby spinach

1 bunch fresh beet tops

1 bunch flat leaf Italian parsley, stems removed

1 head Romaine lettuce

1 small green cabbage, quartered

1/2 bunch green onions, roughly cut

4 quarts vegetable stock and water mixture

2 bay leaves

6 tablespoons all purpose flour

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 large white onion, coarsely chopped

3 tablespoons minced garlic

3 ribs of celery, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon flat leaf Italian parsley, chopped

4 sprigs fresh thyme

4 whole cloves

3 whole allspice berries

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cayenne pepper to taste

6 cups cooked long-grain white rice

Crystal or Tabasco Green Sauce

Bottle of powdered file`

First, go to the sink, turn on the water, and meticulously wash all the greens thoroughly, several times.You got to remember that all fresh greens are usually full of growing soil and field dirt.This is best removed by sloshing the leaves around in a sink full of water, then removing the greens before draining the sink so that the dirt doesn't resettle on the leaves.

Then after the sink bath, place the leaves under cool 'running water' for a final cleaning just in case some mud particles get missed in the initial process.

Next, with a sharp paring knife remove all the heavy stems or hard centers from the leaves.

Then, in a stock pot large enough to hold all the greens, boil them along with the bay leaves all together in the vegetable broth and water mixture for about an hour or so, or until all the greens have wilted and become limp and tender.

At this point it's time to strain the greens in a large colander, but reserve the boiling water.

Once they've totally drained, place them onto a cutting board and with a chef's knife chop them into coarse, medium-size pieces.

Then place them into a large bowl and set them aside.

In a large, heavy-bottomed stock pot make a brown roux with the flour and olive oil.

Then stir in the onion, the garlic, and the celery and saute for 10 minutes.

Then stir in the chopped parsley and the thyme and saute for 5 minutes more.

Finally, add back to the stockpot the reserved cooking water plus the greens and all the remaining herbs, spices, and seasonings (sea salt, black pepper, cloves, allspice berries, and cayenne).

Then simmer the gumbo on low heat, partially covered, for another hour.

Just before service, adjust the seasonings if necessary.

When you're ready to eat, generously ladle out the gumbo over steamed hot rice in large, heated, gumbo bowls.

The put the crowning touch on each dish with a dash or two of green pepper sauce as well as a liberal sprinkling of gumbo file'.

So I ask you. . .who needs meat or seafood?

Editor's Notes:

  • Start the boiling process using the vegetable stock only. Then as the liquid needs to be replenished, add water to the pot.
  • The flavor released from the cooking greens will intensify the flavor of the gumbo.
  • To fortify the flavor of the overall gumbo, puree about a quarter of the greens in a food processor.
  • Then season them with salt and pepper and add file to taste just before serving in large bowls over hot white rice