Having some Louisiana roots, Cajun Gumbalaya (also spelled gumbolaya) is a family favorite around here. It combines the flavors of gumbo and jambalaya for an intensely flavorful recipe. As they say: “Laissez les bons temps rouler” (Let the good times roll!).
What Is Gumbalaya?
I’ve also always been somewhat of a rule-breaker, so while gumbo and jambalaya are both excellent dishes in their own right, I wanted to find a way to combine them in one pan. Voila, Gumbalaya!
Certainly, there is a place for the traditional recipes, but this is my go-to fast version for busy nights. It has all the flavor but is much quicker and easier to make and doesn’t have a flour-based roux.
Fast & Easy Cajun Gumbayala
Whenever possible, I try to use up whatever I have in the fridge or freezer. It helps me avoid food waste and it saves me money. I tend to put this recipe near the end of the week in my meal plan since it’s so versatile.
Some easy substitutions you can make that will still have that Cajun flavor you crave:
- Bell peppers – Use green peppers or whatever color you have on hand. The yellow and oranges are sweeter but won’t change the flavor.
- Cauliflower rice – Rice your cauliflower to keep it keto or low-carb gumbalaya, or you can use white rice. I’ve even used quinoa or brown if I have some leftover I need to use up but they do change the flavor a little.
- Kielbasa – You can use andouille sausage or smoked sausage depending on what you have on hand.
- Red beans – For extra protein, separately pressure cook some red beans and add them for the last 15 minutes to reheat. I tend to batch cook beans and freeze them so they’re easy to throw into this recipe.
- Celery – Since it’s one of the veggies that lasts a long time in the fridge, I like to slice and use it up in this recipe.
- Chicken stock – Even though the diced tomatoes add some liquid, you can add a cup or two of broth or stock to add a collagen boost without making it too soupy.
- Spices – I’m notorious for adding in extra garlic cloves… but you really can’t go wrong with this recipe. Sometimes I throw in a pinch of cayenne pepper, a couple of bay leaves or a dash of red pepper flakes. If you have creole seasoning, put a ½ teaspoon of it in. The possibilities are delicious.
- Crushed tomatoes – It won’t drastically change the texture if you swap diced tomatoes for crushed tomatoes.
Here’s my un-traditional take on this traditional New Orleans recipe.
Cajun Gumbolaya Recipe
- 1 lb chicken (diced)
- 1 lb sausage (sliced)
- 1 lb shrimp (peeled with tails removed, optional)
- 2 tsp coconut oil (or olive oil)
- 3 bell peppers
- 1 onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 1 tsp Cajun seasoning
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- ½ tsp basil
- ½ tsp oregano
- 2 bags frozen cauliflower (thawed)
- 15 oz canned diced tomatoes
- 1 bag frozen okra (thawed)
- hot sauce (optional)
- In a large skillet, cook the diced chicken and sliced sausage in coconut or olive oil until browned.
- Remove from pan and set aside.
- While the meat is cooking, dice the bell peppers and onion and mince the garlic.
- Sauté the diced bell peppers and onions in the skillet until soft, adding the minced garlic in the last minute or two.
- Season with the spices listed or as desired.
- While the bell peppers, onions, and garlic are cooking, put the cauliflower into the food processor and pulse until it is in small pieces like rice. You can also chop with a knife or hand or box grater, though this takes longer.
- When the onion mix is done softening, add the can of diced tomatoes and the okra.
- Add the chicken, sausage, shrimp, and cauliflower and simmer another 10-15 minutes until the cauliflower is soft and shrimp is cooked. Alternatively, you can cook the cauliflower separately in some butter in another skillet and serve the gumbo over it.
- Serve hot and enjoy!
What’s your favorite Cajun dish? Have you tried Cajun Gumbalaya yet?