An easy one-pot recipe for the classic Southern dish! This Vegan & Gluten-Free version of Louisiana Red Beans & Rice is full of deep smoky and spicy flavors, rice, kidney beans, and veggies. It’s allergy-free, oil-free, and still a hearty and comforting meal without the meat!
They say rice and beans are two of the cheapest ingredients to have on hand and still be able to make a delicious meal. Hearty carbs and protein? Check. Add some veggies for those micronutrients. Check. Now just toss in some deeply flavorful and fragrant herbs and spices to pull the meal together. Check! That’s what you get with this vegan and gluten-free take on the classic Louisiana comfort food, Red Beans & Rice! A bit deceiving in name, since the authentic dish includes meat (pork, sausage) and isn’t just “rice and beans”. The kidney beans in this meatless version are hearty enough on their own and still make this a fantastic vegetarian dinner!
What’s the history behind authentic Louisiana Creole Red Beans & Rice?
Smoky, spicy, comforting? Sounds like a good way to describe a meal made for helping you get through a Monday! Traditionally in the South, red beans and rice was made on Mondays for 2 reasons. First, the leftovers from the big Sunday meal needed to be used (i.e. those scraps of meat and ham hock bones!). Second, Monday was “wash day”, so the women needed an easy dish they could throw together and have simmering away on the stove while they did the laundry. This lazy comforting meal was hands-off and a great way to minimize food waste!
What’s the difference between Cajun and Creole?
While you may think these two terms are interchangeable, they are not. In terms of culture and cuisine, Cajun refers to the French colonists who settled in the Acadia region of Canada, later being uprooted and having to settle in what now is known as the Acadiana region of Louisiana. Cajun food is referred to as “country food”. In the rural southern regions they lived, they used smoking and salting techniques to preserve food, such as sausage and Boucherie. They utilized the celery, onion, and bell pepper as the “holy trinity” of Cajun cuisine to start most dishes, throwing back to their French roots. Seasonings were super important, from loads of cayenne pepper to thyme, paprika, and garlic.
iOn the flipside, Creole refers to the population born to the French settlers in Lousiana, specifically New Orleans, (NOLA)! They were descendants of the French and Spanish upper-class, consisting of the wealthy “city dweller” set of the population. So, Creole food is referred to as “city food”. Creole cuisine was traditionally cooked by various slave hands so the flavors and techniques available were far and wide. Dishes included more expensive ingredients like butter, instead of oil, and tomatoes. Red beans & rice is actually a Creole dish, originally, but of course, there is cross-over and red beans & rice can nowadays just be referred to as Louisiana cuisine.
How do you make Red Beans & Rice?
Authentic red beans & rice includes red kidney beans, vegetables (celery, onion, pepper), chunks of pork, sausage, tons of herbs and spices (thyme, cayenne, bay leaves, sage, parsley), served with good ‘ole white rice. The beans and meat portion is cooked and simmered in a pot of water that essentials turned into a thick broth by the end of cooking and makes it perfect for serving over the white rice which soaks up all the goodness. For this super easy one-pot red beans & rice recipe we’re nixing the meat, throwing everything, rice too, into one pot, and having the finished dish ready in a flash (sorry if you do your wash on Mondays, haha!) You’ll be sauteing the veggies, then adding the rice, beans, liquid and seasoning, and letting things simmer away until the rice is fully cooked!
Do you have to use kidney beans for red beans & rice?
Simple answer, no. You can use any “red” bean. Red kidney beans are the authentic way to go. I also feel that they have a distinct taste, texture, and heartiness that other beans do not. They don’t become mush, even when using already cooked/canned beans. So unless you have something against the ‘ole kidney bean, use them!
Easy One-Pot Vegan Gluten-Free Louisiana Red Beans & Rice
- 1 Cup Diced Red Bell Pepper
- ¾ Cup Diced Onion
- ½ Cup Chopped Celery
- 1 Tsp Minced Garlic
- 1 Cup Long Grain White Rice (rinsed)
- 1 15oz Can of Large Red Kidney Beans (rinsed)
- 2 Cups Vegetable Broth (or water)
- ½ Cup No-Salt Added Plain Tomato Sauce (optional)
- 1 Tsp Dried Oregano
- 1 Tsp Dried Thyme
- ¾ Tsp Smoked Paprika
- ½ Tsp Cumin
- ¼ Tsp Black Pepper
- ¼ Tsp Cayenne Pepper
- ½ TB Hot Sauce (optional, if you can't handle spice!)
- Fresh Parsley (to top)
- In a large soup pot, over medium-high heat, dry saute the pepper, celery, onion, and garlic for 5 minutes until softened.
- Now add the rice, beans, broth/water, tomato sauce, spices, and herbs to the vegetables.
- Bring the pot to a boil and then cover and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed.
- Once done, remove the pot from heat and let it sit, covered for about 5-10 minutes.
- Mix in the hot sauce (add more or less depending on your tolerance).
- Serve with fresh parsley, if desired.
Once you get things prepped, it really is a set and forget dish! The best part is that you only need that one pot! No extra messy pot for the rice. Mixing it all together from the start just makes sense anyway! This easy vegan red beans & rice is perfect for a family dinner or made ahead of time as a meal-prep dish and served for lunch! It’s one of those comfort foods that tastes amazing as reheated leftovers.
So tell me:
+ Have you ever been to New Orleans? (Such a foodie destination! One day, I hope!)
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