Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Cajun Time

"New Orleans food is as delicious  
as the less criminal forms of sin." - Mark Twain
A few weeks ago, as Mardi Gras was quickly approaching, all I could think about was visiting New Orleans (and my friend, Jane).  After choosing not to go - mostly due to the price of gas and lack of free time - I could not stop thinking about the food I was missing out on.  Beignets, crawfish étouffée, po boys, fresh oysters, foot long margaritas... (just kidding.)

After weeks of dreaming about cajun food and not being able to enjoy it, I decided to take a stab at cooking it myself.  Growing up, I always thought home cooked cajun food involved some kind of Zatarain's product in conjunction with shellfish and/or andouille sausage.  This is not the route I wanted to take this time around.

I went the vegan route. And I must say, it was very good decision. I'll admit, meatless meals haven't always been my cup of tea. But when my friend Virginia introduced me to my now all time favorite restaurant, Bouldin Creek Café , I fell in love with the idea of replacing meat with vegetarian protein.

Sure I enjoy tofu and soyrizo, but what I really love is beans. Black beans, red beans, garbanzo beans, pinto beans... I love 'em all.  So cooking red beans & rice was the answer to my prayers - and it just so happened to turn out vegan.

Vegan Red Beans and Rice

1 can red beans
1 can red kidney beans
1/2 large onion
1 large tomato
2 bell peppers *I used one green and one red
5 stalks of celery
4-5 cloves of garlic
3 chipotle in adobo peppers
1 cup vegetable broth
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp vegan worcestershire sauce *this is okay to omit if you don't have it!
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper
2 cups of prepared brown rice

First chop up the onion, garlic, peppers, celery, tomato, and chipotle in adobo.

Heat a large pan over medium heat.  Add a few tablespoons of sunflower oil to the pan and add vegetables in the order chopped.  Season the veggies liberally with pepper and lightly with salt. Cook the veggies 5-7 minutes then add both cans of beans (drained and rinsed), cumin, cinnamon, worcestershire sauce, bay leaves and vegetable broth.

Simmer with lid tilted for 30 to 45 minutes.  Serve over brown rice.

If you need an extra kick, Cholula, Tabasco or Louisiana Hot Sauce will do the trick.

FYI: The bright greens perched next to the main dish is steamed rainbow chard.  (P.S. For delicious greens, toss with a little bit of apple cider vinegar and salt & pepper after steaming.  Seriously, no oil needed.)

Enjoy your red beans and rice with sweet tea and good company :)

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