Spicy Vegan Cajun Beans & Rice

Rice and beans. Some people hear this dish and turn their noses up at its simplicity while other, like me, think of all the ways I can make this basic meal more interesting. Will I whip up a quick Indian spice? Maybe an herb-y Mediterranean style rice and beans dish for the more relaxed vegan taste buds? Or maybe I’ll keep it simple and take it back to one of my favorite U.S. cities. New Orleans.

Beans are a great source of protein if you care about that sort of thing, but they are also an excellent way to fill out a meal on a budget. And that goes double if you get dry beans. A quick rinse and a soak (quick soak or overnight, the choice is yours), and pop a few cups into a slow cooker, then forget about it until you’re ready to use the beans. One batch of kidney beans and you can have three or four days worth of meals.

So, on to the Cajun rice and beans.

This is a pretty easy meal with a minimal ingredient list. You’ll need beans, choose whatever strikes your fancy but choose a mean that is sturdy and firm so it’ll soak up all the juices and enhance the dish. Pinto beans would be my backup for the dish, or cranberry beans. Take care of the beans however you need to and then grab your cutting board to chop up the veggies.

What you’ll need for this dish is: onion, bell peppers, garlic, celery, plum/grape tomatoes, kidney beans and about 25 grams of crumbled tofu.

The tofu is optional but I wanted to fill it out a little more which is why I only 25 grams.

Add some oil (or not) to a pot and saute the onions, bell pepper, tofu crumbles and celery until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and the tomatoes until the tomatoes start to soften and the garlic begins to brown.

Now you’ll want to grab the sauce you whipped up. I use this sauce mix for Cajun or Louisiana-style dishes because the vegan Worcestershire always seems to miss the mark. In a bowl, whisk up: tomato paste, cumin, oregano, chili powder, smoky paprika, vegan Worcestershire sauce, a few drops of dark soy sauce, harissa paste, water & cornstarch. Mix until a sauce forms and add it in with the beans and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer until the sauce is nice and thick.

You can put this in slow cooker if you want, but you can whip it up on top of the stove in about 30 minutes. Toss in a bay leaf to give it the flavor that it’s been cooking all day. Add Jasmine rice on the side and you’re ready to get your grub on!

If you want more spice, add Sriracha or jalapeno peppers to the top, but I went pretty crazy with the harissa so it wasn’t necessary.

And hey, don’t be shy about tossing those celery leaves right in with the rest of the vegetables. They have the same nutritional makeup and they provide a nice depth of flavor.

Whatcha think?

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