Creole and Cajun food doesn’t have to be loaded with meat and fat to taste decadent. This vegan etoufee is stuffed with all the spicy flavors of Louisiana.
I’m writing this from a hotel on St. Charles Avenue after a night of revelry in the streets of New Orleans. If you’ve never been to Mardi Gras, you might assume that the partying is confined to Fat Tuesday itself, but Mardi Gras day is just the culmination of all the parties and parades that have been going on over the last couple of weeks.
Yesterday, out on the street for over twelve hours, my family and I were able to catch six parades (and a couple of bags of purple, green, and gold beads). Tonight we’ll be back out there for four more, and we’ll stay to see Zulu and Rex on Tuesday before we return to real life.
You would think that because we’re in New Orleans we’d get to sample a lot of great New Orleans-style food, but the truth is that, though N.O. has become more vegan-friendly over the last few years, there don’t seem to be many restaurants that offer meatless versions of gumbo, etoufee, or even red beans and rice. While we’re here, we’ll seek out great Vietnamese food or maybe Tapas, but we won’t be able to find Eggplant Creole. Last week, in anticipation of our trip, I began craving spicy New Orleans food, and since I knew I probably couldn’t get it here, I made it myself.
Étouffée is basically seafood (usually) or meat cooked in a thick gravy that begins with a roux, a mixture of flour and oil that is cooked until it turns a rich brown color. Then the Louisiana trinity is added–onions, celery, and green pepper–along with broth and herbs and lots of red, black, and white pepper to achieve a sauce so flavorful that you could probably cook an old non-leather wallet in it and have it come out delicious. Making a vegan etoufee is easy–just use vegetable broth and non-meat protein–but making a fat-free etoufee is a little more challenging because the roux that gives it the rich, smoky flavor requires fat.
Or does it? As it turns out, you can make a great “dry roux” just by browning the flour alone in a dry skillet. Like any roux, you have to stir it nearly constantly and make sure it doesn’t burn, but once it’s browned and blended with vegetable broth, it forms a thick, flavorful gravy that I, at least, prefer to an oily traditional roux.
I don’t usually use a lot of fake meats, and when I do, I make them myself. But since Mardi Gras is all about excess, I went all out and used a processed vegan sausage for this etoufee, and I have to say, it was one of the best, most decadent-tasting dishes I’ve made in a long time. I hope you’ll give it a try for a little taste of Mardi with not so much of the Gras.
Gluten-Free Friends: Obviously, this recipe is not gluten-free as written, but I’ve heard that people have had good luck making a roux from Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour Blend. Just use it to replace the flour, and brown it the same way. As for the sausage, you could try replacing it with cubes of baked tofu or tempeh or use red beans. And don’t forget to substitute gluten-free tamari for the soy sauce or use salt instead.
If you’re looking for more vegan Mardi Gras dishes, check out all my Vegan Louisiana Recipes.
Vegan Sausage and Mushroom Etoufee
- 1/3 cup unbleached white flour
- 2 cups “no-chicken” or other vegetable broth
- 1 medium onion finely chopped
- 1 rib celery finely chopped
- 1/2 green bell pepper stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
- 8 ounces mushrooms stemmed and halved
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 14-16 ounces Italian Fauxsages or other vegan sausages, such as Tofurky, sliced thickly
- 4 green onions scallions, sliced
- Put the flour in a small skillet and heat it over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring almost constantly, until it is the color of light brown sugar, about 15 minutes. Be very careful–it burns easily if not stirred. If it burns, throw it out and start over again. When it reaches the right color, transfer it to the blender, add the broth, and blend it until smooth. Set aside.
- While you’re stirring the flour, you can begin cooking the vegetables. Heat a large non-stick skillet. Add the onion and cook for about three minutes, adding water by the tablespoon if needed to prevent sticking. Add the celery and bell pepper and continue to cook until the onion is beginning to brown. Add the mushrooms and a tablespoon of water and cover tightly. Cook until the mushrooms begin to exude their liquid, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute.
- Give the flour mixture another quick whirl in the blender and add it to the vegetables. Add the soy sauce and all the seasonings and cook, stirring often, until sauce has thickened. Reduce heat and add the sliced sausage. Cover and cook on low for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the gravy seems too thick, add a little more vegetable broth.
- Check the seasonings and add more pepper and salt if needed. Stir in the green onions and serve over rice.
Nutritional info is approximate.
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TracyApril 11, 2012 at 9:00 am
Just wanted to tell you how much my husband loves your Mexican Lasagna and the regular Lasagna. He can’t stop raving about it. Over the years I have converted him and he doesn’t eat any meat or dairy. He could not believe how good those two dishes are and he always loves what I cook. Thanks for being there. Would adding okra to this dish ruin it? I have some in the freezer and have zero experience with okra.
Susan VoisinApril 11, 2012 at 10:58 am
Thanks so much for letting me know about your husband! I’m so glad to hear that he likes those dishes so much.
I think if you add the okra after the onion and cook it for a few minutes with the onion before adding the other vegetables, it will probably be fine. Don’t add any liquid to it as it’s cooking or it could become too thick and slimy. If you try it, please let me know your results.
StephanieApril 13, 2012 at 9:29 pm
I have been saving a package of Field Roast sausages in the freezer for a special treat. Tonight I thawed them out and made this. Delicious! Thank you so much for this recipe! Definitely worth saving that Field Roast. My boyfriend is a bit sensitive to hot spices so I used the low end of your suggested ranges for the red and white peppers, and it was just right. I might need to try making my own sausages now so that I can have this again soon.
conzApril 15, 2012 at 1:26 pm
Cant get enough of this! Aint great with tofu, and aint any fat free sausage in uk, so its currently cooking with some baked tempeh 🙂
BBApril 26, 2012 at 11:25 am
SO GLAD you posted this! I’m going to make this for my Cajun boyfriend and see what he thinks. All my previous attempts at vegan gumbo have flopped. He has learned to make some seriously good vegan red beans though. Better than meaty ones, his friends have told him. The trick is to sautee the veggies in some red wine 🙂
ToniMay 22, 2012 at 2:11 pm
I just made this tonite!! Delicious!! I made it early so my night-shift husband could take it to work with him, but I nibbled along the way. I can’t wait for supper time!
magwartJune 13, 2012 at 9:36 pm
This recipe is wonderful. It’s simple to put together, and the flavor is outstanding. My husband loved it and wants me to make it again. Thanks so much for posting this recipe!
Erica ClementsJuly 18, 2012 at 1:10 pm
My husband is from New Orleans, so when I saw this recipe I had to make it for him! It was absolutely fabulous. I made the sausage and the étouffée all in one afternoon, which was a lot of work but worth it. Next time I’ll make the sausage the day before.
SaraAugust 30, 2012 at 11:03 pm
We just ate the sausage and mushroom étouffée for dinner with sauteed green beans and it was wonderful! I used brown rice flour, Feildroast apple sage vegan sausage, didn’t have smoked paprika so I subbed 2 parts paprika + 1 part cumin to get a smokier flavor. I used 1/4 tsp of the 3 peppers because I don’t handle spicy foods well and it was perfect. My fiancé, very much a meat eater, loved it! I can’t wait to make this for family and friends. Thank you!
Melissa LangOctober 16, 2012 at 10:04 pm
Made this tonight and it was delicious! I’m used to the étouffée with a base of a stick of butter and cream of celery soup. I’m glad to have a plant-based, and healthier version to replace my old favorite. The roux was delicious. I used tofurkey Italian sausages, but I think that I would experiment with other favors. Maybe even your fauxauges! I love your recipes and your website. It is my go-to website when I want to make something delicious and with flair!
JinnieNovember 12, 2012 at 6:12 pm
Arguhh! Technology! I had written a long rather eloquent post and while I was proof-reading it my tablet’s battery died. Grrrrrr.
Made this dish this evening for dinner and it was absolutely wonderful. I will be making it again and again. My only complaint was I used the tofurky sausages. Not as good as the sausages I make. Thanks to you and others like you who teach I am learning eagerly.
Your Tortilla Soup is awesome. And I hope I don’t embarrass myself here but isn’t the cornmeal coconut butter substitute your recipe? Love it!
Anyway just wanted to say thank you.
Susan VoisinNovember 12, 2012 at 6:29 pm
I hate when that (losing a long post) happens! I’m so glad you liked the etoufee and the tortilla soup. I’m not sure who created the cornmeal coconut butter substitute–maybe Bryanna Clark Grogan?
kvrose48February 16, 2013 at 2:13 pm
Oops! I left a comment about this following another recipe..
I took this to a Mardi Gras Party with 20 people. There were many non-Vegan dishes there but this was a real hit! No one guessed it was meatless. They were surprised it was. Had several requests for the recipe. You captured the rich Cajun flavors that make this one of my go-to recipes for ‘something special’.
I am re-making it again today-less than a week away- it is just too good!
kvrose48February 16, 2013 at 8:55 pm
I took this delicious dish to a Mardi Gras party and it was a real hit with all the meat eaters. I had several requests for the recipe. It is one of my favorites.
It combines such rich Cajun flavors that no one could tell it was Vegan.
Thank you for such wonderful recipes!
SoyaFebruary 21, 2013 at 8:44 am
This looks really delicious and just perfect fpr grey and cold days like today. I need some healthy soulfood!
Diane RobuckMarch 23, 2013 at 12:27 pm
Congratulations on your second place!! I am still lurking about and becoming more veganized! I have made the above recipe several times and it has been a hit. What ” meat” would you reccommend? Also could this be adapted to the 6 week program of Dr. Fuhrman? Thank you for all of your fat free recipes:))
BrendaApril 29, 2013 at 9:05 am
I finally made this and it was a hit. My mom was visiting New Orleans this past weekend and wanted to try etouffee, so it was a perfect time to try out this recipe. And a New Orleans-native omni friend of mine also came to dinner that night. I wasn’t sure she’d like it, but she gave it the local girl seal of approval!
ClareMay 29, 2013 at 8:11 am
Made this for dinner tonight – loved it!
SAAschNovember 27, 2013 at 6:54 pm
Many years ago, when I was in southern Chile, harina tostada was a staple. Wheat berries were toasted and ground coarsely. I loved it served over stewed fruit of all kinds. Nutty and satisfying. I plan to use your harina tostada method in this dish. Sounds great.
KateDecember 4, 2013 at 10:29 am
Just a little note to say that this was SO DELICIOUS! I am having one of those self imposed weeks of trying to use up as much as I can from my pantry/fridge and when I stumbled on this recipe, I had everything for it. It took me a good amount of time to make, and that’s all part of the fun. I had all the fixings for a different sausage (http://www.everydaydish.tv/recipe/spicy-italian-vegetarian-sausage) and I used pasta instead of rice to make my husband happy. He loved it so much he had seconds! The spices are-the entire dish, Wow…so, so yummy.
Thank you so much for sharing this. I am 100% going to make it again. There was even enough to pack it into lunch for my husband and my mom for the next day.
JenniferFebruary 17, 2014 at 9:19 pm
Made this tonight for my non vegan family. Got mixed reviews but mostly regarding the sausage texture. May try another brand next time and there will be a next time. Loved it personally. Thanks for sharing your recipes.
AmyFebruary 22, 2014 at 11:25 pm
I have been staring at this recipe for two years and I finally decided to just make it tonight. It was wonderful! My picky non-vegan boyfriend took one look, deemed it “too scary” to try, then proceeded to eat a half serving picking out the mushrooms lol! I suspect this will end up in a more regular rotation in our house. Thank you so much for your blog and all the work you do to keep it going! I hope you enjoy Mardi Gras in a few weeks this year too!
WernerFebruary 17, 2015 at 1:26 pm
Hi Susan, Plan to make this, am wondering what flavor profile for the vegan sausages would be best? Italian, breakfast type, Irish, chorizo type seasonings?? I appreciate any feedback, not sure what’s traditional or what you prefer. Thanks.
Susan VoisinFebruary 17, 2015 at 2:23 pm
I would go with the Italian or any spicy sausage.
JohnJanuary 24, 2017 at 11:28 am
I made this for the first time last night… Oh to the Em to the Gee… it was beaudaciously good! I was raised during my junior & senior high school years in Slidell near your hometown so I love Cajun & Creole cooking. This was so authentic in flavor and even better than what I was raised on because it wasn’t swimming in butter, oil and sausage fat. You are a culinary genius… thanks for sharing this with us. -John
DedeFebruary 19, 2017 at 9:19 pm
Cafe Carmo is my go to place for lunch when I am in New Orleans.
RICHARD WILSONApril 2, 2017 at 7:45 pm
wow thats way to much sodium
Cindy WinderDecember 3, 2017 at 10:02 am
I really wanted to like this, I made it as written and neither my husband or I liked it.
StacieSeptember 10, 2018 at 3:53 pm
I think Cajun food, and a lot of other ethnic food, comes down to a great sauce over high quality, fresh ingredients. This gravy was a winner. My cheats, a little olive oil in the pot to start the veggies~1 tbs, (I haven’t mastered starting them without it, but after they start to release liquid, no more is needed), a little bit of kelp powder for the fishy sweetness of crawfish, and a tbs of sugar for the sweetness of shellfish also. Probably didn’t need it if you were cooking for people who have never had the shellfish version, but it was still vegan and lowfat. The recipe for a fat free rue was perfect.
ArtFebruary 16, 2019 at 1:40 am
Why do you never put amount of saturated fat on the labels?
It’s most important to know, for healthy vegan cuisine.
Susan VoisinFebruary 16, 2019 at 8:45 am
I only put saturated fat on the recipes that have any. Most of mine don’t.
CandaceApril 2, 2019 at 9:38 am
I just wanted to say I come back to this recipe again and again, so many times over the last 6 years or so. Thank you ever so much for it!
MarrokJanuary 20, 2020 at 8:35 pm
This was amazing! We used the Gardein brand frozen Italian sausage pieces; cooked them first according to the package. I forgot to get mushrooms at the store so I just cut the other veggies a bit larger so there would be some texture. This is definitely a repeat.
Dean HewettMarch 2, 2020 at 5:19 pm
Made the veg sausage and mushroom etouffee tonight and used 1/4 teaspoon of the three peppers. My family found it too hot so I would caution if you don’t like hot dishes, add pepper to taste.
ShannaFebruary 12, 2021 at 2:24 pm
Making this tonight. I don’t have plain white flour, but I do have spelt, cassava, brown rice, atta flour and a bunch of others….can I substitute any of these flours?
Susan VoisinFebruary 12, 2021 at 3:18 pm
Brown rice flour works well.
AnnieAugust 10, 2021 at 1:16 pm
Susan! Just wanted to let you know how much I love this etoufee. It is sublime. I have made it many times and the flavors take me right back to my twenties, when I lived in New Orleans (though I wasn’t vegan then). The dry roux is a snap to make, and I like to use Tofurky Italian Sausages in this dish. I slice them thickly and brown the slices on both sides before adding them to the etoufee. Oooh, I am making myself hungry. Will buy the ingredients next time I go shopping. Thanks so much for a keeper recipe!