Healthy and Heavenly Sausage and Shrimp Gumbo

Gumbo defines Cajun cuisine. Gumbo is soulful, rich, and so satisfying. It is hearty, comforting. Gumbo transcends seasons, and my family enjoys eating it any time I make it. Traditionally gumbo is a welcomed Holy Thursday meal, a feast to enjoy before the Good Friday fast. While often seafood-based, recipes are as varied as the ingredients you have on hand, and every family (and chef) has its version. Google "gumbo recipe," and you'll get over 1,050,000 hits. But a few must-haves include a nutty roux that provides gumbo's thickness and distinct color and the holy trinity of onion, celery, and bell peppers, similar to the French mirepoix. But arguments abound if okra is essential (absolutely! Gumbo translates to okra), if tomatoes are a no-no (I use them because I use okra and I like the hint of sweetness they add to offset the slight spice of the dish), is filé necessary (sometimes I use it as a condiment sprinkled on at the end, but okra sufficiently thickens it), and is andouille a necessity (if I’ve planned ahead and have it in the ‘frig, it’s my sausage of choice)?
Unfortunately gumbo is not the healthiest of fare, full of fat from the preparation of the roux and often sodium-laden depending on your selection of sausage. But we love this stuff, and I didn’t want to think we had to give up one of our favorite meals in the name of healthy eating. Some years ago, I came across a recipe in Cooking Light that provides a great base for a really healthy gumbo. It is every bit as tasty as a traditional recipe thanks to an ingenious method of preparing the roux. No oil. No butter. No fat! But as it browns, it still has that very distinct, sharp, almost earthy roux aroma that fills your whole house. Do pay attention. You need to stir like crazy and don’t let it burn because then you must start over. This gumbo has a healthy dose of vegetables, and you can vary the proteins to your liking, using shrimp, a firm white fish such as red snapper, crayfish, chicken, or sausage. This recipe below reflects the changes I made to the original, using additional spices, just shrimp and chicken andouille sausage. Enjoy!

Sausage and Shrimp Gumbo
8 – 1 cup gumbo and 1/2 cup rice

1 cup all-purpose flour (I've successfully used white whole wheat flour)
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped bell pepper – green is traditional, but any color works
1/2 cup chopped celery
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup sliced okra
1 cup chopped tomato
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning (Penzey’s Spices has a nice one)
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
A few shakes Worcestershire sauce
5 cups fish or chicken stock
2 bay leaves
3/4 pound sliced chicken andouille sausage
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
3/4 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
Tabasco or other hot sauce to taste
4 cups hot cooked long-grain rice

Place flour in a 9-inch cast-iron skillet; cook over medium heat 20 minutes or until browned, stirring constantly with a whisk. (If flour browns too fast, remove it from heat, and stir until it cools down.) Remove from heat; set aside.
Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Sauté sausage, breaking up clumps with the back of a spoon, until cooked through. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels.

Wipe out the pan. Heat the remaining teaspoon of oil and add the onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic; sauté 8 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Add okra and tomato; cover and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add Cajun seasoning, spices, Worcestershire sauce, stock, and bay leaves, and bring to a boil.
(Be sure to cut the okra smaller than what I did above.)
Gradually add browned flour, stirring with a whisk. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add green onions and shrimp; cook 10 minutes or until shrimp is done. Add in the sausage and cook until heated through. Stir in hot sauce; discard bay leaves. Serve gumbo over rice.

Print recipe here


  1. It's funny - I was thinking about gumbo today. And how I haven't made any in ages. And then I see this! Great job of making this a bit lighter without using any flavor. Like the first picture - but I'm a sucker for overhead shots! Good stuff - thanks.

    1. John, thanks for the compliment on the photo. It means alot coming from you! Give the fat-free roux a shot. You'll never miss the oil.

    2. I definitely will. By the way, really dumb typo in my first comment. I meant to say "making this a bit lighter without losing any flavor" rather than what I actually wrote - using! Grrr. Sorry about that.

  2. This one looks like a great one to make on a chilly fall day! I miss seeing you at the Ellisville Farmer's Market- hope all is well!

    1. Elizabeth, I'll be working at the Ellisville Octoberfest on Saturday morning. Stop by and say hello!



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