I was asked the other day if I had a recipe for vegetarian jambalaya. I said, Yes, and then asked, do you need the recipe right now so you can make it for dinner tonight? My friend replied that she wanted to make it this weekend, when she had more time to cook, and then freeze it for dinner on the following Wednesday. I assured her that I had the perfect make-ahead recipe and that I would email it to her as soon as I got home.
Since my recipe does not contain meat or shrimp, I add vegetarian sausage. It provides flavor, and a robustness not found in other vegetarian jambalaya recipes. I also add two types of beans for extra protein and texture. Here’s the recipe I sent to my friend:
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 links Lightlife Italian Smart Sausages (cut into ½-inch slices)
1 yellow onion (medium chop)
1 green bell pepper (medium chop)
½ cup celery (medium chop)
3 cloves garlic (minced)
2 cups vegetable broth
14 ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes (undrained)
8 ounce can tomato sauce
2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning (or use my recipe below* to make your own)
1 cup uncooked long grain rice
15 ounce can cannellini beans (rinsed and drained)
15 ounce can small red beans (such as Goya brand: rinsed and drained)
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Sauté sausage, onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic for five to six minutes, stirring frequently. Add broth, tomatoes, tomato sauce, and Cajun seasoning.
Bring to a boil and add rice. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes until rice is tender, stirring occasionally. Add beans, ¼ cup of water, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes stirring occasionally. It’s ready to serve!
To freeze, cool casserole in refrigerator and once cool, ladle into freezer containers. Seal and freeze. To reheat, place frozen jambalaya in saucepan and heat over very low heat, breaking up and stirring frequently, until hot.
Serve with my cornbread mini-muffins. These can be made ahead of time too and frozen until ready to use.
*Cajun Seasoning Ingredients:
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
1½ tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons seasoning salt
*Cajun Seasoning Directions:
With this recipe, there is no need for a mortar and pestle or for a blender. Place all ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake to combine. Store in the refrigerator to keep it fresh.