Saturday, February 22, 2014

Red Beans and Rice:

I Could Eat A Plate Twice 

Yes, I can certainly eat a plate twice. In fact, I did that today. That title comes from a Michael Franti & Spearhead tune. I really wish you could hear it because it's dope. YouTube it.  

One of things I've come to realize about myself when it comes to making vegetarian dishes after being a meat-eater most of my life is that I tend to shy away from certain dishes, thinking to myself that there's no way that dish can be good without the meat. And, consistently, I have eventually just went for it and, consistently, it has turned out amazing. Then I think to myself: self, why the hell didn't you do this earlier?

Let it be heard today and now that I will no longer put off "going for it". Because, while I may not always succeed, the times that I do succeed truly make it worth the risk of failure. While I suppose you can apply this overly cheesy little philosophy to any aspect of life, in this instance, I'm going to apply it food. 

One such recipe I have deprived myself of over the last few years has been red beans & rice. This dish is usually laden with tasso (smoked pork shoulder) or some sort of sausage, typically andouille. With such a flavorful component suddenly eliminated, how could it be right? Well, there is an answer for that. 

To make up for the missing sausage, I asked myself what would the dish be missing flavor-wise if the sausage was taken out. I came up with two pretty obvious answers: smokiness from the fact that both andouille and tasso are a smoked meat and the pure fact that both add a "meaty" aspect to the dish. 

It didn't take a genius to do what I did. What I did was simple. But damn if it didn't work well. For the smokiness I quite simply added some liquid smoke. For the meatiness, or in this case umami, I added some soy sauce. 

So I took my newly created version of this dish to a friend of mine and fellow food lover, who is not a vegetarian I might add, for her to try and her response (via instant messenger) was "omg, omg, omg!!". I'll take that as a win. 

This one is a little spicy. But it's creole dish and, damn it, so it should be. I wouldn't call it a butt-burner myself but, in my experience, spiciness is relative. It is based upon a recipe I used for years as my go-to but is now happily vegetarian, and in fact, vegan. Enjoy. 

New Orleans Style Red Beans and Rice


  • 1 pound dried small red beans, picked over
  • 1 large onion, yellow or white, chopped
  • 2 pale-green inner celery ribs (with leaves), chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp hickory liquid smoke
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp dried thyme
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon Louisiana hot pepper sauce ( I like Red Rooster but Tabasco will work too)
  • 3/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves (don't leave this out!)
  • 1/2 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp salt, or to taste
  • white rice 


    1. In a large bowl, cover beans in water by two inches and soak overnight. Once soaked, drain beans.

    2. In a large pot or Dutch oven, combine all ingredients. 

    3. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Stirring occasionally to ensure beans don't stick to the bottom of the pot. 

    4. Remove lid and continue to simmer for an additional hour, again stirring occasionally. If the mixture becomes to thick, add water. 

    5. Remove 1 cup of the mixture and mash to a paste. Alternatively, you can puree it in a blender or food processor. 

    6. Add mash / pureed beans back to mixture and stir to thicken. Serve over rice. 

    Servings: 6