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Vegan Gumbo

7 cups okra
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
cup oil
1 medium onion, minced
1 large bell pepper, minced
4 stalks celery, minced
3 tomatoes, diced
10 cups water
1 Tbsp. paprika
1 Tbsp. salt
1 tsp. filé
1/4 tsp. cayenne
Filé to sprinkle on each bowl

• In a dry skillet, fry the okra until lightly browned and set aside.
• In a separate skillet, brown the flour, then add the oil and stir constantly, until it is a very dark brown (almost burnt). When this mixture (called the “roux”) is dark enough, add the onion, bell pepper, celery, and tomatoes and sauté for 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the okra, water (hot water mixes more easily with the roux), and spices, bring to a boil, lower to medium heat, and cook for 45 minutes.
• Serve over rice, and sprinkle each serving with about 1/4 tsp. filé.

Top Tip: To add the taste of the sea to your gumbo or other “fish” dishes, check out the faux seafood from May Wah Healthy Vegetarian Food-everything from veggie shrimp and scallops to mock lobster. For information, visit May Wah’s Web site.

Makes 6 to 8 servings