Sunday, December 21, 2014

Vegan Red Beans and Rice

It's a cool misty day here in Atlanta and a great day for something warm and nourishing.
Here is a nice recipe that meets this need and it has the bonus of being what's known as
cheap eats. It's also nice to have something simple while we are surrounded by all the
rich holiday food.
Traditional Red Beans and Rice fills the bill but to make it authentic you have to shell out
for some expensive ingredients like Tasso, andouille (smoked sausage) and smoked ham
hocks. It's delicious but so is this vegetarian version and while I am a huge fan of smoked
meats you don't really miss it in this dish. My small red beans(cranberry beans and not
the larger kidney beans) are all soaked and I'm ready to go. If you just really have to have
some meat in it just add a pound of diced smoke sausage(pre-cooked) or crumble in
some cooked bacon after you do the smashing bit.  Enjoy.

Vegan Red Beans and Rice
Makes about 8 servings


2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium yellow onion chopped finely
1 medium bell pepper chopped
4 stalks celery chopped
4 cloves garlic minced
1 lb. dry red beans soaked for at least 8 hours or overnight, drained and rinsed
6 cups vegetable broth or water (I use 1 box of vegetable broth(4 cups) and 2 cups of water)
1 tsp dried thyme or 2 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
1 whole bay leaf
½ - 1 Tbsp smoked paprika or 1 tsp liquid smoke and regular paprika
Freshly cracked pepper to taste but don't be shy
Pinch cayenne pepper
6 cups cooked rice ( prefer brown basmati but white rice is traditional)
1 bunch green onions, sliced for garnish


The night before or early in the morning, put your rinsed and picked over beans in a
large non-reactive pot and fill with enough cool water to cover the beans by a few inches.
Set them aside to soak. I actually put 2 TBlsp. of salt in the soaking water (which will be
rinsed off) as it seems to keep the beans from falling apart. Sort of like brining the beans.

About 3 or 4 hours before you're ready to eat finely dice the celery, bell pepper, and
onion, and mince the garlic. Cook the trinity (celery, bell pepper, onion) in a large pot ( I
like a Dutch oven) in the olive oil over medium heat until softened (8-10 minutes). Right
before you think the trinity is done add the minced garlic and cook for another minute.
In a colander drain the soaked beans  and rinse with fresh water. Add the rinsed beans to
the pot with the vegetables. Also add the vegetable broth or water, thyme, oregano, bay
leaf, smoked paprika, some freshly cracked pepper, and a pinch of cayenne pepper. If you
don't have smoked paprika you can try adding a tsp or so of liquid smoke.
Place a lid on the pot and bring it up to a full boil over high heat. After it reaches a boil,
turn the heat to low and simmer for at least two hours.  Stir the pot occasionally to make
sure nothing is sticking to the bottom. Keep an eye out and don't let the beans get to dry.
If they look dry then judiciously add water.

After two hours (or longer if desired) the beans should be soft and tender. Mash some of
the beans against the side of the pot with the back of a spoon. This will thicken the pot
and make the classic, creamy texture of the dish. Remove the bay leaf and allow the pot
to simmer for about 30 minutes more to let it thicken.

This is usually served by putting the red beans in a bowl and topping them with a scoop
warm, cooked rice. Sprinkle sliced green onions over the top.

It's a good idea to have a bottle of hot sauce handy for those that like a bit more kick. I'm
a big fan of Cholula from Mexico(the one with the wooden ball top) but whatever your
favorite is is fine.

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