Vegetarian Shrimp(less) Creole

Shrimpless CreoleIs it just me – or am I right that when you put shrimp into a flavorful spicy sauce, the shrimp get lost and just become a tasteless rubbery substance? I say when you buy shrimp, save it for sauteing in butter and garlic or dipping in cocktail sauce! Don’t waste it in a sauce that takes over completely. So, the classic Creole dish – Shrimp Creole – is ripe for a Meatless Monday makeover, I say.

I love the spicy tomato-based dish, but it was just begging for okra ( a classic Cajun ingredient, after all) added to it. So, I nixed the shrimp and toasted/roasted some okra slices in a screaming hot oven to give them a nice crust. Okra is better roasted than simmered here – making it slime-free – and keeping its taste separate and distinct from the sauce. And how I wish I could say this with a proper Louisiana accent: OOOoohh-weeee!!!

To celebrate like a proper foodie on Mardi Gras, I dug out my copy of My New Orleans – from my purchase last year, and spent a half an hour just feasting on the pages. This book is not just a cookbook, but a work of art. A beautifully written and photographed tribute by Chef John Besh to his homeland. Chef Besh, I salute you and all things Cajun ~ and I hope this veggie version does you proud!

adapted from the Shrimp Creole Recipe in My New Orleans, by John Besh

Serves 6 to 8 as a side dish
To make the dish into an entree, serve over rice or quinoa or other favorite starch

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large white onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 tablespoon paprika, regular or smoked
1 teaspoon each: cayenne pepper sauce, salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
16 ounces (about 2 cups) fresh or frozen thawed okra, cut into 1/2 inch chunks

In a large heavy bottomed skillet, saute onion in  2 tablespoons of the oil for about 2 minutes over medium high heat, until softened. Add bell pepper, celery and garlic and cook another minute.

Stir in all remaining ingredients except okra and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and let cook about 30 minutes covered, stirring occasionally.

Toss okra in remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and spread on a baking sheet in a single layer. Broil for 3 to 5 minutes about 6 inches from the heat, until browned. Remove from oven and turn okra over. Returen to oven and broil another 2 to 3 minutes, until other sides are browned. Stir into skillet mixture and serve immediately.

This dish is thick and hearty, and can just be served as a side dish. To turn it into a main dish, serve it over rice, quinoa or other starch.


Other fabulous Mardi Gras recipes by bloggers:

Louisiana collides with Denmark in these Mardi Gras ebelskivers by Vintage Victuals
Yes, they celebrate Mardi Gras in the midwest by Iowa Girl Eats
Check out the prettiest Mardi Gras cookies ever – Once Upon a Plate

— posted by Donna


  1. says

    I love making hearty vegetarian meals like this because then you really don’t realize that meat is missing! I’ll have to go pick up some okra for this one! :) Yum.


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