Ridiculously Easy Vegetable Gumbo and Cooking From Your Pantry and Freezer

Ridiculously Easy Vegetable Gumbo and Cooking From Your Pantry and Freezer

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I went to the pantry and found that I had no onions. Take a look at almost any of my savory recipes and you’ll see the same first step: “Saute onions in a non-stick pan.” Onions provide the flavor base on which all of my soups are built, and without onions, I definitely couldn’t cook the soup that I had planned to. It was almost dinner time, so rather than make a trip to the store for one item, I took a look in my freezer and pantry to figure out what I could make with what I had on-hand. In the freezer I had a package of Cajun-Style Mirepoix blend (onions, green peppers, and celery) and several bags of mixed vegetables, including a gumbo blend. Using them and canned tomatoes and beans from my pantry, I managed to make an amazingly good gumbo in under a hour, and the only vegetable I had to chop was the garlic. Having a well-stocked freezer and pantry can rescue you when you’re running short on fresh ingredients and might be tempted to reach for something processed and unhealthy. People often ask me what I keep on-hand at all times, but I’ve never really taken stock and written it down. Excluding fresh fruits and vegetables, which vary by the season, here are the basic ingredients that I always keep in my pantry and freezer. The point is, with a well-stocked pantry and freezer, you can always whip up a meal in a hurry, no matter how bare your refrigerator is. Fresh veggies are always tastier, but frozen ones are just as nutritious (sometimes more so), usually less expensive, pre-chopped, and very quick and convenient to use. Try to include some okra: it makes this a gumbo rather than just a vegetable stew.

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