Here’s a healthier upgrade to the classic New Orleans recipe: Red Beans and Brown Rice!
UPDATE (2017): I originally posted this back in 2012 when the Super Bowl was in New Orleans and Mardi Gras was approaching. I’ve updated the photos – enjoy!
Between the recent Super Bowl in NOLA and Mardi Gras fast approaching, there’s a plethora New Orleans, Cajun, Creole recipes floating around and this Southern Wannabe is loving them all.
This got me in the mood to make a big pot of red beans and rice (though I realize an East Coast gal can’t truly produce the real thing but imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?)A taste of NOLA: Easy Louisiana Red Beans & Brown Rice recipe @tspbasil Click To Tweet
Some Red Beans and Rice tidbits:
- Red beans and rice has been a Monday meal tradition for decades in New Orleans. On wash day (Mondays), women would put a big pot of beans on the stove to cook all day as they did the laundry. The beans were seasoned with leftovers from the Sunday ham and served over rice.
- The “Holy Trinity” of Cajun and Creole cooking is onions, celery and bell peppers and is the base for this dish.
- Cajun/Creole seasoning is a savory spice mix – with a little kick – usually paprika, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, onion powder, oregano and thyme. Zatarians is a popular brand.
- The red beans used are smaller and a bit sweeter than large kidney beans (locals swear by Cameilla Red Kidney Beans for this dish.)
I made a few healthy tweaks while still keeping that Cajun flavor:
- swap in whole grain brown rice (I used brown basmati )
- swap in turkey kielbasa for andouille (less fat but still lots of heat and spice)
- cut back on the Cajun seasoning (as salt is usually the first ingredient) and add in smoked paprika for some extra smoky flavor
lazy way shortcut to make keep it simple is to use canned red beans instead of dried beans (if you can’t find a low sodium version, always drain and rinse canned beans thoroughly.) I used a canned version of the smaller red beans under the Westbrae organic label but in a pinch, red kidney beans will work, too.
Easy Louisiana Red Beans and Brown Rice
A New Orleans favorite is given a healthy twist without sacrificing taste. Made in under an hour, this Red Beans and Brown Rice recipe is sure to please.
- Yield: 8 servings
- 2 cups uncooked basmati brown rice
- 13 ounces turkey kiebalsa (or chicken andouille)
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped (about 1 1/4 cup)
- 1 large green pepper, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
- 3 large celery stalks, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon Cajun or Creole seasoning
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 (15 ounces) cans red beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 1/2 cups water
- Your favorite hot sauce
- Cook rice according to package and set aside.
- In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, cook kielbasa or sausage to sear, stirring frequently for 4 minutes. Remove from pot and set aside.
- Reduce to medium heat and add oil. Add onion, pepper and celery; saute for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic, Cajun seasoning, smoked paprika and salt; saute another 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add in beans and water; bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
- Mash some of the beans against the side of the pot to thicken the broth. Add the sausage back in, stir well and cook another 15 minutes.
- Serve over brown rice and with your favorite hot sauce.
For more tastes of New Orleans, here’s a Quick and Easy King Cake recipe and a recipe for Baked Beignets (I realize this is a bit sacrilegious, kind of like used canned beans and turkey kielbasa for authentic red beans and rice!)
No matter. Laissez les bon temps rouler!
Have you ever made red beans and rice? What’s your favorite Cajun, Creole or Louisiana dish?