I know, Harwood, ND seems like a strange place for a Cajun food tradition to begin. But whatever, it’s cussing cold there and we need all of the spicy, filling food we can get. Patsy, my darling mother, would make big batches of Jambalaya for celebrations, family dinners, or just to treat her coworkers. She made several different versions to accommodate the palates of her guests. There were spicy, not so spicy (mild would be an overstatement), and eventually a vegan version for me 😉
The original recipe included shrimp (ish) and turkey sausage (even ishier). Our adaptation substitutes protein-rich kidney beans and vegan sausage to create a filling, hearty meal to warm your bones and stick to your ribs during the fall and winter months. Best yet, this recipe is easily made in a crock pot so you can set it in the morning, forget it, and have it ready to eat after a long day of living.
My folks haven’t had a Jambalaya Party in a few years, but I know that Patsy will still make a batch when she wants to impress (or scald) her friends and family. I’m sure your heathen, meat-eating comrades won’t even realize it is vegan while the sweat beads upon their brows. If you don’t like spicy food (I don’t know what you’re doing on this website…) you can simply omit the red pepper flakes, cayenne, and jalapenos or adjust them to your taste.
WHAT YOU NEED
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or vegan butter
- 1 large onion – diced
- 4 celery stalks, ends removed, sliced horizontally
- 2 green bell peppers – diced
- 3-4 jalapenos – minced – seeded if you are trying to turn down the heat, keep the seeds to burn away your sins
- 4 cloves of garlic – minced
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes – or to taste
- 1 tsp cayenne
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 can diced tomatoes with juices – petite dice preferred but it really doesn’t matter
- 2 cups vegan beef or vegan chicken broth
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 can red or kidney beans
- 3-4 vegan Italian sausages, or andouille style if available – sliced into 1/3″ circles
- 1 cup white rice (if you prefer brown rice go ahead and substitute it and add another cup of broth)
WHAT YOU DO (stove top instructions)
- Heat the oil in a large stock pot over medium heat and add onions, celery, bell peppers, and jalapenos. Cook until onion is soft.
- Add the garlic, thyme, red pepper flakes, cayenne, smoked paprika, and black pepper and saute for 2 minutes.
- Add the canned tomatoes with juices and cook another 5 minutes or so.
- Add the broth, sugar, tomato paste, beans, and vegan sausages, raise heat and bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, turn heat to low and simmer about 5 minutes to allow flavors to blend.
- Add rice and cover, stirring occasionally until rice is cooked, about 20 minutes. Add extra water or broth if the rice begins sticking or it seems too dry.
- Serve nice and hot.
WHAT YOU DO (crock pot instructions)
- The night before or in the morning, heat oil in a skillet over medium heat and saute the onion until translucent. Add the garlic and jalapenos and saute for about 2 more minutes – until very fragrant.
- If you are preparing this dish the night before – Keep the onion, garlic, and jalapenos in a covered container in the fridge overnight along with all other prepped ingredients.
- In the morning, add all ingredients (except the rice) to the crock pot and cook on low for about 6-8 hours.
- If you are looking for a faster cooking time, cut it in half and cook on high for 3-4 hours.
- 30-60 minutes before serving, crank the heat to high and add the rice. Give it a good stir.
- Allow the rice to cook for 30-60 minutes (cooking time depends if you are using white or brown rice and how hot the crock pot is.)
- Be sure to check rice while cooking, stirring occasionally and adding water or broth as necessary.
- Serve nice and hot.