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Barley, Lentil and Turkey Gumbo

There are a few steps to preparing the seasoned oil-and-flour roux that thickens this gumbo, but the unique, smoky flavour of roasted spices and barley is worth the effort. Substitute chicken for the turkey, if preferred.

2 Tbsp (30 mL) canola oil
2 Tbsp (30 mL) Italian seasoning
½ tsp (2 mL) ground white or black pepper
¼ tsp (1 mL) cayenne pepper
2 Tbsp (30 mL) whole barley flour
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 small bulb fennel, trimmed and sliced
1 small sweet potato, peeled and cut into half-inch (1 cm) cubes
1 lb (500 g) boneless, skinless turkey breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
3/4 lb (375 g) turkey sausage (bratwurst style) cut into bite-sized slices
½ cup (125 mL) white wine (or low-sodium chicken broth)
4 cups (1 L) low-sodium chicken broth
½ cup (125 mL) pearl or pot barley
½ cup (125 mL) dried green lentils, or 1 14-oz (398 mL) can, drained
12 large shrimp, shelled and deveined (optional)
½ cup (125 mL) lightly packed, chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish

In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet with a lid, or a Dutch oven, heat oil over low heat. Stir in Italian seasoning, pepper, cayenne and flour to form a roux. Stir slowly with a fork or whisk for 2 to 3 minutes until the roux has browned. Add garlic, onion, sweet pepper, fennel and sweet potato; stir well to coat vegetables with roux. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, just until onion begins to soften.

Add turkey breast and sausage and continue cooking until lightly browned.

Add wine; using a spatula, scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. This will make a dark sauce.

Stir in broth until well combined. Stir in barley and lentils. Cover and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until barley and lentils are tender. Add a little water, if necessary, to keep the consistency similar to a thick chowder.

If using shrimp, add and simmer until shrimp are pink and cooked through.

Serve gumbo in shallow bowls, garnished with cilantro.

Makes 6 servings (1 ½ cups/375 mL each).

Nutritional Information (per serving):

Calories: 405
Protein: 38 g
Carbohydrate: 36 g
Fibre: 8 g
Sugars: 4 g
Fat: 11 g
Saturated Fat: 2 g
Trans Fat: 0.2 g
Cholesterol: 76 mg
Sodium: 533 mg
Potassium: 673 mg