Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Red Beans and Rice

Haaaay, how y'all doin'?  Oh, sorry, I slipped into my N'awlins drawl, you see, because I just spent 4 days down in the Bayou.  Every single person I encountered opened with "Haaay, how y'all doin'?" and now it's my favorite way to start a conversation (or, I just throw beads at people and see how they react).

The food in Louisiana was okay.  On one hand, I had a mediocre (at best) shrimp po' boy in the French Quarter, a dry-ish vegetarian muffaletta somewhere at 2am, and enough green beer on St. Patrick's Day to stain my tongue emerald.

On the plus side, I had some pretty good seafood gumbo in Baton Rouge, a beignet covered with a mountain of powdered sugar at Cafe du Monde, blackened tuna at Mr. B's Bistro, a killer Sazerac, and lots of coffee with chicory.

It's hard being semi-veg in New Orleans because sausage is everywhere.  However, I was too busy drinking to worry about food too much.  Now that I'm home and trying to detox the vacation out of me, I realize I didn't get any red beans and rice.  Red beans and rice is a traditional Creole dish that's made on Mondays with whatever meat was leftover from the Sunday dinner.  I mostly wanted some because of the line in "Baby Got Back" that goes..."gimme a sister can't resist her, red beans and rice didn't miss her."

Even though those lyrics imply that red beans and rice give you a big ass, I made a vegetarian version at home.  Without the pork and white rice, it's much healthier!

You have to start any Creole dish with what they call the "Holy Trinity" in New Orleans:  onion, celery, bell pepper.  Then I added soaked red beans, spices, and chipotle peppers for smokiness.  Boil together with stock for an hour and serve with brown rice.  It was super spicy (just the way I like it!) but I felt it needed some more fat, so I added half a diced avocado.  It was filling and satisfying.  The creamy freshly cooked beans absorbed all the spice from the chipotles, and the brown rice gives it a nice nutty balance.

Red Beans and Rice, adapted from What Would Cathy Eat
Serves lots

1 lb bag dried red beans, soaked overnight or boiled for 1 hour
1 medium onion, diced
4 ribs celery, diced
1 orange bell pepper, diced
5 cloves garlic, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 bay leaves
1 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 chipotle pepper, chopped (I used 2 plus some adobo sauce but I love the heat)
5.5 cups water or vegetable stock (or combo of the two)
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

For serving:  cooked brown rice, chopped scallions, diced avocado

In a large pot, saute your onion, celery, bell pepper, garlic, and carrot in some olive oil until soft (about 5 minutes).  Add your soaked beans, bay leaves, oregano, cayenne, chipotles, water or stock, and Worcestershire and boil gently - uncovered - for about 1 hour, or until beans are soft.

Serve with brown rice, scallions, avocado, and more hot sauce if you can take it.

ONE YEAR AGO:  Sweet Green Curry
TWO YEARS AGO:  Warm Lentil Salad with Sunny Eggs
THREE YEARS AGO:  Seared Tuna Salad with Spicy Asian Dressing


  1. UHHH YUMMM! I love beans, and unfortunately they didn't miss me...ahem. Did I ever tell you I like the one, two, and three years ago addition on your blog posts? I love all of your ideas! :)

  2. I love the idea of adding some avocado. And the fact that you referenced "Baby Got Back." That song never fails to make me smile.

  3. Personally, there's something about beans and rice that gets in my tummy and swells . . . there's no WAY I could eat enough to get a big ass! :)