An Easy Vegan Dirty Rice recipe that won’t have you missing the meat! This meatless, vegetarian version of the traditional Louisiana Cajun/Creole side dish is gluten-free, allergy-free, and still full of flavorful Southern comfort and authentic “dirty” color!
Dirty rice, the one time when eating “dirty” food is 100% safe and acceptable! Even though this dirty rice is vegan and contains none of the traditional meat, it is still packed with deep Creole flavor, spice, smoke, and a hearty mix of plant-based goodness! This vegan dirty rice is so easy and simple to make and will become your go-to for a quick rice side dish to accompany any entree you have planned to serve on the dinner table!
Why is it called dirty rice?
No need for alarm! There is no dirt or unappetizing specimens in dirty rice. Dirty rice is called “dirty” for the simple fact that the white rice you use gets a “dirty brownish” color from the ground pieces of meat, typically pork, chicken, or beef, that you use in the dish. Thus, the rice has the appearance of being “dirty”.
What is dirty rice made of?
For authentic dirty rice, you’ll find a combination of white rice, small pieces of ground meat (pork, chicken, beef), bell pepper, celery, onion, and a good dose of spices such as black pepper, cayenne, parsley, and maybe some thyme. Dirty rice is essentially the “Fried Rice of The South”. That means you should use previously cooked white rice! Historically, dirty rice was made with the leftovers meats from a previous meal. You know, the gross giblets and such that became much more palatable hidden in a hearty rice dish.
What’s the difference between dirty rice, rice dressing, and Cajun rice?
In the South (i.e. Louisiana) these terms are pretty much used interchangeably for what is arguably the same dish, dirty rice, with slight variations in tastes, textures, and ingredients used. What you’ll find in all three is rice (obviously), meat, and spices. Dirty rice typically includes ground pork and chicken livers, whereas, rice dressing typically has one ground beef or pork. Cajun rice gets thrown into the vocabulary too. Some say that these other names for dirty rice came about because chefs at restaurants didn’t want to call their dish “dirty” for fear that customers wouldn’t buy. But if you know good Louisiana food…you know “dirty” is delicious!
How do you make vegetarian dirty rice?
A good Cajun/Creole dish doesn’t need to be meat-centric! This vegan dirty rice swaps out all the animal products and uses jackfruit as the main “meat replacement”. Besides nixing and swapping out the meat, the other “authentic” ingredients stay the same. Dirty rice is naturally gluten-free, allergy-free, and now meatless! It includes long grain white rice, jackfruit, onion, celery, green bell pepper, and a rich profile of spices and herbs for perfect deep flavor. Black pepper, garlic, smoked paprika, cumin, thyme, a bay leaf, cayenne pepper, and finished with parsley! These spices and herbs make up for not using meat so this dish sacrifices none of the rich flavor and dirty color!
What kind of rice should I use?
Your favorite long grain white rice is fine. You can use brown rice if you love that flavor and texture (it will definitely give you the dirty look!). Again, this “Fried Rice of The South” is best with precooked and cooled rice! You’ll be mixing the precooked rice into the skillet of sauteed veggies and seasonings!
What do you eat with dirty rice?
Since dirty rice is typically a side dish, you can pair it with any hearty main dish. However, you can keep it as a light lunch or main event if you want to. Without the meat, I’d say keep it as a side dish. Some breaded or grilled cauliflower steaks would be great; perhaps a whole roasted cauliflower for the ultimate vegan Southern meal?
Can I make dirty rice paleo?
You can opt to swap out the rice with cauliflower rice and keep everything else the same in this meatless dirty rice recipe. I would serve a paleo dirty rice with a meat main dish then. Whole roasted chicken, an easy slow cooker or skillet chicken entree would be great. Fried chicken is a favorite of those in Louisiana to pair their dirty rice with, but that wouldn’t be a paleo meal!
Easy Vegan Dirty Rice
- 1½ Cups Dry Long Grain White Rice (cooked according to package and cooled. 4½ Cups cooked.)
- 2 Cups Canned Jackfruit (cut or pulled into small pieces)
- 1 Cup Chopped Onion
- ¾ Cup Chopped Celery
- ¾ Cup Chopped Green Bell Pepper
- ¼ Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley
- 1 Tsp Minced Garlic
- 1 Tsp Smoked Paprika
- ½ Tsp Dried Thyme (optional)
- ½ Tsp Black Pepper
- ½ Tsp Cumin
- 1 Bay Leaf
- ¼ to ½ Cayenne Pepper
- Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat and dry saute the jackfruit, onion, celery, and bell pepper for 5 minutes.
- Add in the parsley and the rest of the herbs and spices and mix everything together for about 2 minutes.
- Finally, add in the precooked and cooled white rice and "stir fry" everything together for 5 more minutes until the dish is hot and the flavors and color have thoroughly developed.
**This recipe will serve 6 as a side dish and 4 as a main.
This vegan dirty rice is SO easy and SO delicious! There is something about a Louisiana rice dish that always satisfies and leads to a no-fail delicious meal! So while you may have been scared of the word “dirty” accompanying a food you’re about to eat, know you have the facts and a delicious meatless recipe to try out for dinner tonight!
So tell me:
+ Have you ever had dirty rice?
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