I have been a ‘Southern Enthusiast’ since about 1995, when I went to New Orleans for the first and (sadly) only time. It was my first real exposure to southern culture aside from 95 South pit stops in VA, NC, and GA (roadside peaches!) on annual family road trips to Disney World. While I was there and I am so ashamed to admit this, I ate like a 20 year old gutter punk. I had beignets at cafe Du Monde of course, like every tourist but that was the extent of the Nawlins’ food specialties I encountered. Ok I had a Muffaletta but it was not from Central Grocery so it does not count in my opinion.
Let me tell you, the 35 year old me looks at that 20 year old and wants to wring her neck! Galatoire’s Arnaud’s, Brigtsen’s Dooky Chase’s, Brennan’s. Domilise’s…..
How could I have been so foolish? I guess I was focused on other things back then (read: dranks and dancing).
I imagine I thought that I’d be back again before long. Of course, then came Hurricane Katrina.
I had wanted to make a trip down for my 35th birthday but could not make it happen. I was perusing the recipes in Cooking Up a Storm: Recipes Lost and Found from The Times Picayune of New Orleans the other night and realized I had not made Jambalaya since the late 90s! WHAAAAAT? Of course, back then it was a box of Zatarain’s and frozen veggies. Sometime soon I hope to make a full tilt Jambalaya with okra and andouille and whatnot but for now I settled on this simple but flavorful cousin to Paella perfect for the weather right now and ample to boot.
VEG JAMBALAYA FOR TWO PLUS LUNCH THE NEXT DAY
2 tbs of butter or olive oil
1 cup each chopped red and green bell pepper
1 cup onion
1 med zucchini quartered and diced
a few celery stalks diced
1.5 cups of long grain rice
as many cloves of garlic as you see fit
1 can whole crushed tomatoes in their juice
any combo or all of the following seasonings, adjusted to taste:
black and white pepper
2 cups of vegetable stock (or broth if you’ve happen to have been boiling some turkey)
1.5 cups rice
half package of fake sausage crumbled or fake Italian sausage links sliced browned separately and added to the brew before serving
a handful of chopped scallions
Louisianna hot sauce
In a dutch oven melt the butter or oil over med heat. Add the peppers, celery, onion and garlic until soft and fragrant. Now add the can of tomatoes, your spices and herb sand the vegetable stock and bring to a boil.
Add the rice, reduce heat to medium/low and cover the dutch oven for 15-18 minutes.
In a separate pan, saute the zucchini ( oh hey you could use okra here as well, this way it won’t get all slimesville) and your fake meats.
( If using real meats you can add them in the beginning after you saute the peppers and onions etc)
Take the lid off the dutch oven and see what is going on in there. Add tomato paste if you think you need to and stir it a bit, if most of the water has cooked off you are good to go. (It should sizzle a bit when you stir it, if not let it cook off more moisture.)
Serve in big bowls topped with the scallions and keep the hot sauce handy.