We’re a big baseball family, and each year for the past 12 years, our summers have been consumed with baseball games and lots of traveling around the country. Seven years ago, one of my boys played in the 10-year old Cal Ripken World Series in Lafayette, Louisiana. Our entire family went to this once in a lifetime event and to this day, it is one of our fondest summer memories. Not only was the baseball great fun to watch, but we had terrific local host families who cooked real Cajun food for our team of boys and all their family members.
We were so fortunate to have our generous host families not only make noisemakers and cheer for our team, but to expose our palates to Cajun Seafood Gumbo. I remember hanging out with our host (who happened to own a local restaurant), watching as he made the gumbo, hoping to recreate this “delicacy” at home. At first, I have to say I was afraid our boys wouldn’t touch the stuff – if I tried serving crawfish here in Connecticut to these boys, I can guarantee you they would never have tried it.
Funny thing is that the baseball team absolutely loved it – shocker! Just goes to show that even kids that are used to eating pizza and chicken nuggets can open their palates to food that is completely outside their comfort zone. You just have to get them to try it.
Anyhow, to this day, my boys and hubby love gumbo, and I make it for special occasions. I make it only for special occasions because gumbo traditionally takes a while to make since the base is a roux that needs to cook for a very long time first. The other reason I don’t make it often is that the traditional recipe for roux uses loads of oil. Combine that with the rich seafood that goes into these Cajun dishes, and you probably have hit your caloric limit for the entire day in one bowl.
This Healthier Crawfish Crab Gumbo uses several tricks to make it a lighter recipe. The first is an interesting technique to reduce the amount of oil used to make the roux I saw on Cooking Light. It called for baking the flour for 45 minutes to get a toasty flavor without the long cooking time on the stove, and also substantially reducing the amount of oil. To make this gumbo gluten-free, I used glutinous rice flour which I had seen in other recipes as a gluten-free thickener.
Another trick I used to lower the amount of fat and add body to the gumbo without the calories was to substitute some of Rocco Dispirito’s Onion Garlic Puree for half the roux. This puree adds tons of flavor and thickens the gumbo without the fat and calories. I’ve used this magic thickener when I made a dairy-free calzone filling last year, and it worked really well.
My boys and hubby absolutely loved this Crawfish and Crab Gumbo. Served with brown rice, I am proud to present this healthier (and gluten-free) version of gumbo. I think our Louisiana friends would approve. Although this gumbo still takes a little bit of time to make, I’m thrilled to have a healthier, gluten-free version that I can now make for my family.
A Healthier Gluten-Free Crawfish and Crab Gumbo
- 1/4 cup glutinous rice flour
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 medium onion finely diced
- 8 cups water
- 1/2 cup Onion Garlic Puree
- 1 bell pepper finely diced, about 1/2 cup
- 2 celery stalks finely chopped, about 1/2 cup
- 1/2-1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 5 garlic cloves minced
- 1 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
- 1 cup lump crabmeat
- 1 pack cooked crawfish tail meat 12 ounces
- 1/2 cup minced parsley
- Steamed Brown Rice
- minced scallions
- minced parsley
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place rice flour in a pan; bake for 45-50 minutes until light brown, stirring halfway through.
Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add toasted rice flour and cook one minute, stirring constantly. Add water, Onion Garlic Puree, bell peppers, celery, Cajun seasoning, salt, pepper, garlic, tomatoes, and crabmeat, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour. Add crawfish and parsley and simmer another 30 minutes.
Serve over steamed rice with scallions and parsley.
Gumbo has such big flavor that I can’t imagine anyone really not liking it!! But you’re right, the key is getting them to take the first bite. I love that you healthified it a bit!
All That I'm Eating says
This sounds great! I’ve seen gumbo a few times but not had the chance to make it yet. Your pictures are lovely.
Regan @ The Professional Palate says
My husband LOVES gumbo & this version looks absolutely amazing. Gumbo isn’t the easiest thing to photograph & this one looks beautiful 🙂
Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) says
How great that you’ve found a way to adapt the gumbo recipe your family loves to a recipe that’s also good for them. It’s hard to give up food you love, and worth the work to try and find substitutes (like rice flour for wheat flour) that keep our favorites in the repertoire.
Angie@Angie's Recipes says
So flavourful and tasty! The sauce looks especially great.
This looks fab. I went to LA for the first time last year and fell in love with the food. Although, I like your boys did not love the food until I was in the element! This is definitely on my list of things to make!
EA-The Spicy RD says
Love that your son’s baseball teammates gobbled this up- It looks fabulous! Gumbo is something I really like, but never have imagined making before. Pinning this now, for a special occasion meal 🙂
Susan @ Wish Upon A Dish says
I love the stories as much as the recipes. Baking the rice flour is a great way to take out the fat and the gluten. I just made Crawfish Etouffe last week and served it over polenta, another way to eliminate gluten. I would love to visit LA and eat all that great food, I am a huge fan.
Glad you all like this gumbo – it’s typically a very rich dish, so I was thrilled to be able to come up with a lighter version for my family as a special treat before everyone starts school again this fall. Gumbo takes a little time to make, but it is so worth it – pure comfort food.
Kiran @ KiranTarun.com says
I love a light, brothy and flavorful gumbo! Looks so delish, Jeanette 🙂
I love the sound of your lighter version of gumbo! Foods with lovely memories like this are always the best. 🙂
Liz - Meal Makeover Mom says
The recipe looks great. And what a great mom you are for traveling the country with your baseball family!! Beautiful photos!
Thanks Liz – you’re sweet. My kids have been playing baseball for so long, it’s become part of our life. In the beginning, it was tough, but now it’s just what we expect as part of our summer. This gumbo was definitely a highlight from our World Series baseball trip! These trips definitely built a lot of fond memories for our family, so it was definitely worth it.
Brian @ A Thought For Food says
Oh wow… This looks amazing. We’re lobster/clam/oyster people up here, so now I need to get my hands on some crawfish and crabs!
That is one gorgeous bowl! Gumbo has such rich flavors–it’s perfect for fall.
Kiersten @ Oh My Veggies says
It looks fantastic and it definitely goes to show that you can make a recipe healthier without sacrificing flavor!
shelly (cookies and cups) says
I love gumbo! Love this recipe 🙂
France @ Beyond The Peel says
YOu know, I’ve never made Gumbo. I can’t think of why not! This sounds awesome.
My family loves gumbo – it is great for the fall and freezes well. Looking forward to making this again as the weather turns cooler.
Ashley - Baker by Nature says
I’ve been dying to make gumbo! This is the perfect inspiration – your version looks gorgeous!
Thanks Ashley – making a pot of gumbo this afternoon!
Wendy Reaux says
I am from Louisiana and that was the first thing i learned to make when i went gluten free. And yes, baking is the trick. I prefer the less fattening version of this wonderful meal!
Jane Nicolson says
It looks delicious but I can’t see making it. When you go on recipe sites to get a gumbo recipe you look at reviews…and you don’t really have any. Just oohhhhh and ahhhhh! That looks great! So I’ll leave my review too! That LOOKS fantastic! Oooohhhhh yum!