Sunday, April 1, 2012

Vegetarian N'awlins Red Beans and Rice

February, 2010, Indianapolis, Indiana, was hit with the worst freezing rain storm in our history.  The storm hit Monday morning.  Dear Hubby and I were scheduled to fly out for New Orleans on Tuesday afternoon for a convention Hubby would be speaking at that week.  In the best of weather, I am not the best of fliers.  There is just something about sitting in a thin metal tube at 35,000 feet which does not instill the greatest confidence in me.  Naturally, I was less than enthused to be heading out on a tarmac with 5 inches of ice sitting on it.  Fortunately, our flight was delayed to 9:00am Wednesday morning on the only airline flying out of Indy that morning.  Due to the delay, we were rerouted to Detroit, then grabbed a delayed connecting to Memphis, and finally landed ten weary hours after our initial take-off in New Orleans.  It was with great relief that we headed to the hotel and snuggled into bed.  Lying in bed, saying prayers for my children and family members left in Indy, I heard the sound of "ping, ping, ping" hitting against the window of the hotel.  Yes, it was freezing rain.

What does this have to do with red beans and rice you might be thinking?  Well, New Orleans had one of their worst cold spells of their winter during our week stay that trip.  Dear Hubby was busy, busy, busy presenting at the conference, which left me to my own frigid devices.  After walking to the nearby mall to buy warm, toasty clothes, I headed out that first day to explore the French Quarter in the wet, cold rain.  Lunch came, yes I am getting to the food part of this story, and I happened upon the most exquisite pub.  Red beans and rice with sweet tea was what I had that afternoon for lunch.  To this day, I can close my eyes and recall how delicious the dish was.  A perfect blend of beans, spices, and ham.  Yeah, this was before my complete conversion to vegetarianism.  If red beans and rice could be called sublime, then this dish would qualify.

Fast forward to an unusually chilly, wet day last week, given the May-like weather we have been blessed with this spring.  Red beans and rice filled the spot, with a vegetarian twist of course.  I have to be honest, I did not miss the ham.  I don't think you will either.  Give it a chance.  You are gonna love this delicious, delectable N'awlins Red Beans and Rice!

Vegetarian N'awlins Red Beans and Rice

1 bag dried red beans
1 chopped onion
1 chopped bell pepper
1 chopped anaheim pepper
2 tablespoons chili pepper
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon coriander
2-3 tablespoons Hungarian Paprika
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
4-6 cloves chopped garlic, or more or less depending on your preference
4 cups vegetable broth

It is very easy to make this delicious meal.  Begin by soaking dried beans in a bowl of water for at least 3 hours or overnight, depending on your schedule.

This is an important step as it allows the release of gases from the beans and will prevent your having digestive upset after eating this dish.
Now, toss all of the ingredients into your crock pot.  Cook on a high setting for 8-10 hours.  Then take your immersion blender and blend the red beans on low until you have a mostly smooth with some whole red beans, sauce-like texture.  Serve with rice and hot sauce.

Servings:  6-8
Cost per Serving:  $1.20

“The minute you land in New Orleans, something wet and dark leaps on you and starts humping you like a swamp dog in heat, and the only way to get that aspect of New Orleans off you is to eat it off. That means beignets and crayfish bisque and jambalaya, it means shrimp remoulade, pecan pie, and red beans with rice, it means elegant pompano au papillote, funky file z'herbes, and raw oysters by the dozen, it means grillades for breakfast, a po' boy with chowchow at bedtime, and tubs of gumbo in between. It is not unusual for a visitor to the city to gain fifteen pounds in a week--yet the alternative is a whole lot worse. If you don't eat day and night, if you don't constantly funnel the indigenous flavors into your bloodstream, then the mystery beast will go right on humping you, and you will feel its sordid presence rubbing against you long after you have left town.” 
― Tom RobbinsJitterbug Perfume

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