Spice up midweek meals with this summery (and simple) sheet-pan gumbo
By Amy Watsky
Everyone’s hungry. Make that hangry. Your fridge is filled with random vegetables. There are some proteins scattered throughout your freezer, but nothing’s thawed. It’s boiling outside, and you can’t walk two steps without breaking a sweat. The dishes are probably piled up in the sink, but you’re scared to even check. It’s just one of those days.
It happens to all of us, and usually the simple answer is to go out to your local neighborhood joint and call it a night. When that “simple answer” ceased to exist back in March, those hangry weeknights took a dark turn. Cinnamon toast crunch for dinner isn’t necessarily a terrible thing, but it can’t be too great for your physical health. But what else are we supposed to do on nights like these?
I get it. It’s the worst. I actually came up with this “dump-and-bake” dish during a hectic weeknight when cereal dinners just didn’t cut it anymore. Is it authentic? No, not at all. But it tastes good and it does the trick. I use every vegetable about to go bad in the fridge, easy-to-thaw shrimp and sausages from the freezer, and Cajun seasoning from the pantry to throw together this Louisiana classic. The best part? You only use one sheet pan and the whole thing gets thrown into the oven and forgotten about till it’s done.
Farmers’ markets are brimming with fresh yellow corn, bell peppers, avocados, okra and tomatoes and this meal uses all of them. Shrimp and cut-up sausage are the two proteins that I find easiest to thaw, so I always have them hanging around in my freezer as backup plans for those hangry weeknights. Once everything’s chopped up, they get tossed in Cajun spices and popped into the oven until it’s cooked through and golden. Serve it with pasta, rice, bread or whatever floats your boat. Smoky and hearty, it satisfies the craving for a home cooked meal… in half the time.
And there you have it — a delicious, easy cleanup, supporting-the-locals style dinner that will help you clear out your fridge while supporting your local community. The ingredients below reflect what’s in season now as well as what happened to be in my fridge then. Feel free to use whatever you have laying around! To make it fancier for more put-together nights, try it with a drizzle of homemade chimichurri sauce.
Check out Tamai Family Farms at the Mar Vista, Santa Monica or Venice farmers’ markets for some beautiful tomatoes and J.R. Organics Farm for the best variety of peppers every Sunday at the Mar Vista Farmers’ Market (9 a.m. to 2 p.m.)!
Ingredients (serves 3-4)
1-2 bell peppers, cut into bite-sized pieces
3 tomatoes, cut into small cubes
2 ears of corn, cut off the cob
A few okra, cut into thin slices
1 carrot, diced into small cubes
1 stick of celery, diced into small cubes
1 pound of shrimp
2 links of sausage, cut into chunks
1 onion, sliced
A few cloves of garlic, minced
Some parsley, chopped
1 avocado, cubed or sliced
2 tablespoons of butter, cubed
1 lemon, to serve
Chimichurri to make it fancy…
½ cup chopped cilantro
½ cup chopped parsley
3 cloves of garlic
1 minced shallot
Cayenne pepper or a chopped chili
1 tablespoon of honey
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
¼ cup of olive oil
While you chop your veggies, preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread the garlic, onion, celery and carrot pieces on a foil-lined pan. (This will act as our hassle-free mirepoix, a French way of using finely diced carrots, onions and celery cooked in oil or butter as the seasoning base for a meat dish or sauce.) Spread some butter on top and put it in the oven.
Once the mirepoix is starting to brown, take the pan out carefully and spread the peppers, tomatoes, corn and okra on the pan. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and Cajun seasoning to taste, and mix everything together with the rest of the butter. Scatter the sausage on top and bake until cooked through. Put the shrimp on top and pop it back in the oven.
Turn the oven to broil. Once everything is browned and sizzling, it’s ready to be taken out.
Serve with avocados, parsley and lemon with your choice of carb. (Rice is my favorite!)
For the sauce:
Mix all of the ingredients — cilantro, parsley, garlic, shallot, honey, red wine vinegar, olive oil and chilis and peppers to taste — together and set aside until ready to serve the meal. Done!