You’ll notice that the ingredients and instructions in this recipe are a little bit loose. That’s because jambalaya is kind of like soup. You can add things and leave things out and make substitutions, and it’s still going to be good.

Veggie jambalaya is comfort food. It’s great for fasting days. If you want more protein, replace some or all of the beans with salad shrimp.

And if you want jambalaya with meat, just leave out the beans and add three or four cups of cooked, cut up meat. It’s a great way to use up leftover pot roast, or leftover holiday turkey or ham.

You can use leftover rice or leftover beans, instead of cooking them up fresh or opening a can. I use red rice, because I’m on an anti-inflammatory diet. Feel free to use white rice or brown rice if you prefer.

If you have a stalk or two of celery on hand, you can leave out the celery seed and add the chopped celery to the skillet with the onion and pepper.

And if you want a little music while you cook, you can listen to Hank Williams singing Jambalaya.

Veggie Jambalaya

Ingredients

1 cup red rice
2 cups water
2 onions, chopped
1 bell pepper chopped
Oil for the skillet
1 pint canned tomatoes
Celery seed
Worcestershire sauce
Thyme
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 can red dark red kidney beans
1 can black-eyed peas

Instructions

Put the rice and water in a rice cooker, and start it cooking. If you don’t have a rice cooker, cook the rice in a saucepan on top of the stove.

Add a generous amount of oil to a large cast-iron skillet, and heat it over medium heat. When it’s hot enough to make a drop of water sizzle, add the pepper and onions. Sautee until they’re soft and the onions are starting to turn golden.

Add the tomatoes to the skillet, including their liquid.

Add the seasonings. You’ll need a generous amount of salt and pepper. About a half a teaspoon of celery seed. A good sized splash of Worcestershire sauce. And a couple of tablespoons of thyme.

Add the beans to the skillet, including their liquid.

Simmer the vegetables and beans together. When the rice is done, add the rice to the skillet, and continue simmering for another fifteen minutes or so. Add a bit more liquid if you need to.

Taste, and adjust the seasonings.

Serve with crusty bread and a salad.

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Charlotte Riggle, author of Catherine's Pascha and The Saint Nicholas Day Snow
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