A classic creole dish goes vegan! Tofu and eggplant are simmered in a flavorful stew that’s filled with creole flare. Served with brown rice, this main dish is sure to satisfy any of your Cajun cravings.
A recent trip to New Orleans inspired me to experiment with some good ol’ Southern cooking, TGG-style. I love the food in New Orleans, its probably my favorite place to eat in the States. The food is flavorful, comforting, and definitely full of culture and personality. I love the combination of French, West-African, and Southern-American flavors – there’s nothing else in the world like it. But by the end of the trip, I was definitely craving a healthy, home-cooked meal (anything not deep-fried). And so, the perfect opportunity for turning up the nutrition on a classic creole dish was born.
My sister ordered a fantastic-looking Étouffée on our trip, which gave me the idea for this recipe…but I definitely made more than a few modifications. An Étouffée is a type of cajun stew, usually made with crawfish and/or other types of seafood. I opted for tofu as the primary source of protein in this plant-based version. I found extra-firm tofu to be a perfect substitute for shellfish here, as it’s slightly chewy and soaks up tons of the flavors from the stew. I also included aubergine (or eggplant), as it’s a vegetable I think I enjoyed in some way or another – usually fried, I admit – every single day of our trip.
One thing I love about this dish is that, other than the brown rice, everything can be prepared in one large pot – hello, easy cleanup! It’s also relatively simple to prepare. The first step is to make a roux. A roux is simply some type of fat and a flour stirred constantly for about 5 minutes, or until a thick paste is formed. This paste serves as a thickening agent and is common in sauces used in classic French cooking. In New Orleans, bacon grease is often used as the fat source for preparing rouxs – obviously, that wasn’t going to fly in my kitchen, so I opted for coconut oil instead (a vegan butter substitute would also work). Instead of all-purpose flour, I chose almond flour, but any type of unrefined flour would work. (I almost used whole wheat but had some almond flour left in the pantry and decided to keep this recipe free of wheat for my gluten-free friends.)
Once the roux is prepared, add the onions, bell pepper, and eggplant. Allow them to cook for a few minutes before adding the garlic. (Your one-pot-wonder should be smelling pretty amazing right about now.)
Next, add the vegetable broth, wine, chopped tofu, and additional seasonings. If you prefer to cook without wine, you can just use additional vegetable broth, but the wine does add great flavor. (Plus, there’s extra left for sipping…can you tell New Orleans has rubbed off on me?!) I used a souvenir hot sauce that I picked up in the French Quarter but your favorite Louisiana-style sauce will work perfectly.
Bring the stew to a boil and then cover and reduce to a simmer for about 10-15 minutes. You can also keep the stew cooking on low until your rice is finished, if necessary. Once ready, ladle the étouffée onto plates and place a scoop of cooked brown rice on top. (I used a measuring cup to form the rice into a spherical shape.) Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and serve with a glass of wine!
The result is one of those home-cooked meals that makes you wonder why you ever leave the house. Warm, comforting, and full of creole-flavor. It’s just enough Louisiana-cooking to tide me over until my next visit…
- 1 cup brown rice dry
- ¼ cup coconut oil or vegan butter substitute
- ⅓ cup almond flour or other flour of choice
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 bell pepper chopped
- 1 small eggplant chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1½ cups vegetable broth
- ⅓ cup dry white wine
- 1 package extra firm tofu sliced into 1-inch pieces, I used sprouted
- ½ cup green onions chopped
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp creole seasoning
- 2 tsp tamari or soy sauce
- 1-3 tsp Louisiana hot sauce
- ¼ cup fresh parsley chopped
- Prepare brown rice: combine with 1.5 cups water in a medium-sized pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until rice is tender and water is absorbed, about 40 minutes.
- While rice is cooking, prepare the étouffée. Melt oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add flour and mix constantly to form a roux, about 5 minutes.
- Add chopped onion, pepper, and eggplant and cook for 5-6 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute.
- Stir in broth, wine, tofu, green onions, tomato paste, seasoning, tamari, and hot sauce. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 minutes.
- Spoon étouffée into separate serving bowls and add cooked brown rice on top. Garnish with fresh parsley before serving.
To find out what we were snacking on in NOLA, check out my coconut matcha energy bars!