Every year after the holiday season is over, I always find myself craving simple food. After all those weeks of indulging in cookies, cakes, and desserts of every kind along with luscious, rich appetizers and huge dinners, I just want something easy. And good. And simple. Simple like New Orleans Red Beans and Rice.
Red Beans and Rice Tradition
Red beans and rice originated in Louisiana and was traditionally made on Mondays with beans, vegetables, and the leftover ham bone from Sunday dinner. Everything was cooked together slowly in a pot and then served over rice. Since Monday was customarily wash day, the pot of beans could simmer on the stove while the clothes were being scrubbed.
Although Monday washdays are largely a thing of the past, this recipe is very much a part of the culinary identity of New Orleans and many neighborhood restaurants continue to offer it as a Monday special. Louis Armstrong, whose favorite food was red beans and rice, would sign his letters “Red Beans and Ricely Yours, Louis Armstrong”.
My Version of Red Beans and Rice
Now, my recipe may not be exactly, precisely authentic. If you’re from New Orleans and have been making red beans and rice your whole life, then you’ll probably find a few surprises in my recipe. Like the tomatoes. The traditional recipes don’t call for tomatoes, but that’s the way I like it, so there you go.
Plus, this is a quick method that uses canned beans instead of dried. Obviously, if you prefer dried beans, go ahead and use them. You’ll just have to plan a day ahead so you can soak the beans and have them ready. By using canned beans, I can make this for dinner in just a few minutes. I rarely plan far enough ahead to do the dried variety.
Also, whenever you find a New Orleans recipe for red beans and rice with sausage, you’ll likely find it calling for andouille. I can’t get andouille where I live, so I use a turkey polska kielbasa in my recipe. Tastes great!
How to Make Red Beans and Rice:
I use a large, deep skillet with a cover (like a chicken fryer) for this recipe. Start by chopping the onion, bell pepper and celery and mince the garlic.
Heat the olive oil, add the chopped vegetables and saute until soft, about 5-7 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, thyme, parsley, salt and pepper to taste.
Stir in the beans and kielbasa along with one bay leaf.
Reduce the heat to low, cover and let it simmer while you prepare the rice.
Bring the water to a boil, add salt (about 1/2 tsp) and rice. Stir well. Reduce heat to low and cover. Cook approximately 20-22 minutes until all water is absorbed. Remove the pan from heat and fluff the rice with a fork.
To serve, spoon 1/2 to 1 cup rice into each individual bowl. Spoon the red bean mixture over the rice. I add 4 or 5 splashes of Tabasco to mine. But then I like spicy food. BeeBop, not so much.
Serve some crusty garlic bread on the side.
- 1 tblsp olive oil
- 1 medium or 1/2 a large onion
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- 1 medium or 1/2 a large bell pepper
- 2-3 stalks celery
- 1 1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
- 2 tblsp fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 cans light red kidney beans, drained
- 2 cans diced tomatoes in juice
- 14 oz package turkey kielbasa, sliced
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup rice
- salt and pepper to taste
- Tabasco (optional), to finish
- In a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat.
- Add the chopped veggies and saute until soft, about 5-7 minutes.
- Add the thyme, parsley, salt and pepper to taste.
- Add the beans, tomatoes with their juice, kielbasa, and bay leaf.
- Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed.
- Reduce the heat to low, cover and let it simmer while you prepare the rice.
For the rice:
- Bring the water to a boil, add salt (about 1/2 tsp) and rice.
- Stir well, reduce heat to low and cover.
- Cook approximately 20-22 minutes until all water is absorbed.
- Remove the pan from heat and fluff the rice with a fork.
- Spoon 1/2 to 1 cup rice into each individual bowl.
- Spoon the red bean mixture over the rice.
- Add a few splashes of Tabasco if desired.
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- Calphalon Classic Nonstick Saute Pan with Cover, 5 quart, Grey
- Wusthof Classic Chef's Knife: 6"
- John Boos Block RA03 Maple Wood Edge Grain Reversible Cutting Board, 24 Inches x 18 Inches x 2.25 Inches
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- Beans on Toast
- BBQ Beans
- Great Northern Beans with Tomatoes
- Pinto Beans with Fresh Tomato Relish
- Slow Cooker White Beans with Smoked Ham Hocks
More Red Beans and Rice recipes you might enjoy:
- Red Beans and Rice from Simply Recipes
- Louisiana Red Beans and Rice from Budget Bytes
- Slow Cooker Red Beans and Rice from Add A Pinch
- New Orleans Red Beans and Rice from Joy the Baker
- Red Beans and Rice Stuffed Peppers from Spiced