One of the first things I want to eat when I go to New Orleans is a steaming hot bowl of Red Beans & Rice. I also want an Abita Amber Ale out of Abita Springs, LA, the small town in St. Tammany parish, where my husband Kevin and I got married (we got engaged on the back of The Creole Queen paddle wheeler in the Bay of New Orleans).
Kevin’s family has been in New Orleans for five generations! His great-grandpa Michael D’Argonne was a college professor and the head of the Sociology department at Xavier University in the 1920’s/30’s. His grandparents lived in Metairie, LA until their passing a few years ago. Now, most of his family lives across Lake Ponchartrain on the Northshore.
And so a year after getting engaged we got married at the Abita Quail Farm. It is THE most beautiful place! I am still indebted to Kevin’s Aunt Janice, for telling us 22 years ago…”I know where ya haf ta have ya weddin’!” It was a dream wedding with 100 of our closest friends and family. John, the owner of the farm is a good friend of her husband, Paul. John surprised us with fireworks over the lake at the end of the night. The memory still brings tears!
Our uncle, Paul La Rocca, on the Italian side of the family, is a local banker on the Northshore. The man knows everyone from Mandeville to Hammond and everywhere in between, including Abita Springs. We had our rehearsal dinner and after-wedding party at the Abita Brewpub per his suggestion (they graciously stayed open until 3:00 AM for us).
And it was Paul’s uncle Anthony who taught me everything I know about New Orleans food and cooking. He would call me and we would literally talk for hours about everything, but mostly food and cooking. He had built a professional kitchen in his backyard off Milan Street in Midtown and sometimes he even cooked meals for the Arch Bishop of New Orleans! He was in his 80s when he died and he became one of my very good friends and favorite teachers.
Needless to say, my heart and my stomach both live in Louisiana! This Red Beans & Rice recipe is a variation of my mother-in-law, Miss Cheryl’s recipe. I added a little heat, but the show stopper is the New Orleans Creole Cream Style “Blue Runner Brand” Kidney Beans. Now, most of us cannot find them locally, but Walmart has been known to carry them (and is the cheapest way to buy them online), and if you’re from St. Louis, I can bring you some next time I’m down there.
You can also purée kidney beans with a little vegetable stock and saute them up with the “cajun trinity,” celery, bell pepper, and onions, and flavor ’em with a creole seasoning. It’s an extra step but it is a game-changer in a recipe that runs the risk of being a little on the dry side. You’ll thank me, I promise.
Anyway, here y’all go! And as always, let me know how ya like it!
Pase yon bon joune!
If ya can’t go to New Orleans, then bring New Orleans to you! If you can’t find Slap Ya Mama in the grocery store, Tony Chachere seasoning works just fine! I also like the green tabasco with this recipe. It already carries a little bit of heat, and you don’t want to overshadow the flavor with too much heat. I also used Impossible Meat’s Sausage because of its high-fat content. It adds a sublime flavor to the beans! You can also skip the sausage if you want to!
- 2 cans organic red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 can New Orleans Style Creole Cream Style Red Beans
- 1 (15 oz) can low sodium diced tomatoes
- 1 pack vegan sausage (I LOVE Impossible Sausage for this)
- 2 tablespoons EVOO, or water
- 1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup celery, diced
- 2 tablespoons cajun seasoning
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups of vegetable stock
- Rice (I usually make brown basmati but feel free to use your favorite)
- Hot Sauce (Optional, but highly recommended!)
- Green onions, or pickled okra, sliced for garnish
- Make rice according to package directions.
- Warm a dutch oven over medium heat.
- Add oil, (or 1/4 cup stock) to the pan and when oil begins to shimmer, add sausage.
- Saute until brown on one side and flip.
- Add onions, bell pepper, and celery, and saute until sausage has browned evenly and vegetables have begun to soften–about 6 minutes.
- Add garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add 2 tablespoons of stock if too dry, or if things begin to stick.
- Add seasoning and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. (Be careful not to burn the spices, keep an eye on the temperature).
- Add vegetable stock and deglaze the bottom of the pan.
- Add tomatoes and beans. Simmer uncovered for 20-25 minutes.
- Taste for seasonings. When finished, add rice to a bowl and top with red beans.
- Garnish with onions, or okra, and finish off with tabasco.
Keywords: red beans and rice, vegan, red beans, creole, cajun, New Orleans style,