When this spicy stew's simmering on the stove, Beverly McDowell's family has a hard time waiting for dinner. "It's much like a thick tomato-based soup with a hearty mix of okra, brown rice and beans," she writes from Athens, Georgia. "Everyone leaves the table feeling satisfied...and eager to have it again soon."
I've always wanted to try black-eyed peas, and I happened to have smoked sausage on hand one night, so I invented this full-flavored stew. It's the perfect way to heat up a cold night without spending a lot of time in the kitchen. I usually doubled with seasonings because we like our food spicier.
Gumbo is one of dishes that helped make the Creole-Cajun cuisine of Louisiana so famous. We live across the border in Texas and can't get enough of this traditional Cajun version featuring okra, shrimp, spicy seasonings and the holy trinity of onions, green peppers and celery. This recipe calls for seafood, but you could also use chicken, duck or sausage. —Ruth Aubey, San Antonio, Texas
My husband is a former member of the Air Force's Thunderbird team, and I developed this recipe after he invited the whole team to our house on short notice for an informal dinner. It was very easy-it was done in 45 minutes, and it turned out to be the best oyster stew I'd ever made! —Christa Scott, Santa Fe, New Mexico