This Cajun Red Beans and Rice recipe should really be named “Cajun Inspired Red Beans and Rice”. I say this because a) I’m not Cajun b) I don’t live in Louisiana, and c) True Cajun food should (I think) involve home cooked and spiced DRIED beans that you simmer on the stove with seasonings and vegetables. I love using dried beans. Beans freshly simmered on the stove can impart a different texture and flavor than the canned variety. That being said, a lot of my recipes are conceived at the last minute (read: the day of, around 4:30 pm, when I remember that I’m expected to eat dinner as a normal human being), and I usually don’t have a pot of beans already soaked, cooked and ready.
Also, one person has an especially difficult time eating an entire pot of beans without a LOT of repetition in foods during the week.
With Mardi Gras almost upon us, and my friend Bob telling me how fantastic it is now that he lives in Louisiana where the good food and parties seemingly never stop (We are all jealous, Bob), I developed a craving for Cajun food. Specifically I wanted Cajun style red beans and rice, yet I didn’t have the really good home cooked beans for Cajun Red Beans and Rice. And, in my neck of the woods in Oklahoma, there is nowhere nearby that I know of where I can get authentic Cajun beans and rice.
At the risk of being banned from Louisiana, I committed two unspeakable sins: I used canned kidney beans, and I made it vegetarian friendly by adding some meatless sausage to the pot. Yes, I know it’s nothing like real southern sausage, but I used it anyway because it was in my fridge, and because it needed to be used before the expiration date. Beans and rice do NOT require sausage, vegetarian or not, so feel free to omit if that’s not your jam.
Also, note: this is a very filling, stick-to-your-ribs recipe, as any respectable southern food should be, and it gets better the next day. Because this recipe makes a LOT of Cajun Red Beans and Rice, you may want to halve the recipe or freeze some of it, for nights when cooking just isn’t going to happen.
- 4 cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 small yellow onions
- 3 stalks celery
- 1 large bell pepper
- 1 tube vegetarian sausage (optional)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 6 cloves garlic
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 3 tsp vegetable bouillon
- 3 T. cajun seasoning
- 1 jalapeno
- 4 cups water
- Sliced green onions for topping
- 2 cups cooked brown rice
- Drain and rinse the kidney beans and set aside.
- Chop your onions, celery, bell pepper, jalapeno. Mince your garlic. Measure out spices and set aside.
- Heat a large pot on medium heat and add 1 Tbsp of olive oil. If using meatless sausage, add it at this time. Cut meatless sausage into bits with the edge of a spatula. Saute the meatless sausage until you get some browning, it starts to smell good, and it’s cooked through. Don’t worry if it sticks a bit to the pan. When fully cooked, transfer into a bowl and set aside.
- Add the other tablespoon of olive oil to your empty pot, then add your onion, garlic celery, bell pepper, and jalapeno. Saute on medium heat until onions are translucent, about 10 minutes.
- Add kidney beans, then use a potato masher to smush about half the beans – this will create a thick, hearty consistency.
- Add 4 cups of water to the pot, along with spices & vegetable bouillon and stir. Simmer until thickened. Taste and adjust salt and other seasonings to your preference.
- Once desired thickness is reached, spoon over cooked rice, garnish liberally with green onions, and consume.
Step by Step for Quicker Cajun Red Beans and Rice
Drain and rinse your beans in a colander.
Prep time! Cut up those vegetables, measure out all your spices.
If you’re using sausage, now is the time to brown it in your pot. Heat a pot on the stove with a tablespoon of olive oil. I’m using Lightlife Gimme Lean veggie sausage, but you can use regular sausage or omit it altogether if you’d rather just indulge in bean-y goodness. Also pictured: Boulevard Rosemary IPA. Based in Kansas City, Boulevard makes some nice craft beers if you’re into that sort of thing. You can check them out here. – normally I’m more of a wine person, but this rosemary beer is pretty darn tasty, and paired nicely with the spicy red beans and rice. Sol introduced me to it, of course.
Your sausage may stick somewhat to the bottom of the pot. Don’t fret too much about this – Those are tasty flavor bits, and they’ll come loose and add some richness to your beans once you add the water.
Once your sausage is cooked through and browned a bit, spoon it into a bowl and set aside. Then add another tablespoon of olive oil to your pot, and add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, and celery. Let these cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes, until softened and onions are translucent.
Add your kidney beans to the pot and use a potato masher to smush about half of them. Now it’s time to add your water, the vegetable bouillon, and the spices. Simmer until thickened.
Yum. It’s thickened up nicely!
Garnish liberally with chopped green onions and serve!