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.