Gumbo, an African contribution to Louisiana cooking, is a spicy cross between a soup and a stew, say the editors of "Weight Watchers Simply The Best All American" cookbook (IDG Books, $21.95).
"There are many variations of ingredients but all gumbos begin with a dark roux -- a combination of flour and fat, slowly browned," the recipe head note explains.
"As old Creole cooks used to say, 'Don't hurry the roux. You'll spoil your gumbo.' Gumbo also includes either okra -- which produces a thickening agent when cooked -- or file powder (ground, dried sassafras leaves)."
Nonstick cooking spray
1/2 pound okra, thinly sliced
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups water
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 cup canned diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 pound lump crab meat, picked over
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Spray a large nonstick skillet with nonstick spray and set over medium-high heat. Add the okra, onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic and saute until translucent, 5 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a bowl and set aside.
To make the roux, add the oil to the skillet and then the flour; stir until well blended. Cook, stirring, until the flour is a rich brown color, but not black, about 10 minutes.
Add the water in a thin stream, stirring continuously to remove any lumps, and bring to a simmer. Stir in the bay leaves, thyme and cayenne; then add the tomatoes. Return the vegetables to the pan and simmer 5 minutes. Add the shrimp and crab meat and simmer just until the shrimp are opaque in the center, 2 to 3 minutes. Discard the bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper.
Makes 4 servings.
Nutrition information per serving: 236 cal., 9 g total fat (1 g saturated fat), 127 mg chol., 515 mg sodium, 16 g carbo., 4 g dietary fiber, 24 g pro.