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Posts Tagged ‘Jambalaya’

I’ve been trying to find some healthy and vegetarian ways to re-create some of my favorite foods and tonight I achieved my greatest healthy, vegetarian version of a classic yet. I made jambalaya. Yes, the classic Cajun food that brings together all three food groups, pork, chicken and shrimp and blends them with veggies and rice into a meal that is so good that you remember the experience of having it for years to come. It really is one of the best foods around and I attacked it with gusto and have made a new version that is loyal to the spirit of the dish but is significantly healthier. Behold! My creation!

This delicious dish was the result of a few days of thinking about how to pull off this feat and reading a bunch of different recipes. Eventually, I put everything together and came up with this. Keep in mind this is Jambalaya so it’s a bit of an intense recipe and will take some time to do. However, it is totally worth it.

Vegetarian Jambalaya
1 package Trader Joe’s 3 grain Tempeh – prepared per my post on Tempeh bacon
1 pound extra firm tofu
1 tbsp. olive oil plus more for tempeh
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
2 celery stalks, diced
2 medium cloves garlic, peeled
1 large bay leaf
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp Paul Prudhomme’s Cajun Magic seasoning
1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes. I use a Hunts brand called Fire Roasted tomatoes. They are really good in this
1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
Liquid smoke
1 3/4 cup Trader Joe’s low sodium vegetable broth
3/4 cup brown basmati rice, uncooked

  1. Drain the tofu and wrap it in paper towels. Press it between two plates to squeeze out more liquid.
  2. While tofu presses, prepare the tempeh. Slice it thinly and give it a bit of cover in liquid smoke. Saute in olive oil until crispy on both sides.
  3. While the tempeh is cooking, slice the block of tofu in half lengthwise and then cut into long, thin strips. Cover these strips in Cajun Magic seasoning and broil them for 5-8 minutes to continue to get liquid out of the tofu.
  4. Set prepared tempeh and tofu aside.
  5. Saute the onion, bell peppers and celery in the olive oil for at least 5 minutes until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and saute for a minute more.
  6. Add bay leaf, cayenne pepper, Cajun Magic, tempeh and tofu to the pan. Break the tofu and tempeh into smaller, bite-sized pieces while stirring everything together.
  7. Add tomatoes (with juice), tomato sauce and vegetable broth. Gently simmer for about 5 minutes.
  8. Pour rice into the pan and stir well.
  9. Bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, covered for about 45 minutes or until the rice is cooked and absorbs most of the liquid.
  10. Remove the bay leaf, add any more seasonings you like and serve. Preferably with Tabasco sauce.

I decided to make the recipe this way because it allowed me to capture at least two of the essential elements of jambalaya. The tempeh will serve as a replacement for the pork and the tofu is a good substitute for the chicken. The liquid smoke adds the flavor that is missed by removing pork from the recipe. I left out the seafood but personally wouldn’t be against having some fresh shrimp in there. I also added red bell pepper to the recipe in order to have a bit more flavor. I would have put okra into it had I been able to find any (for some reason, okra isn’t readably available in Maine). Once I sat down to eat this jambalaya, I was surprised at how well it came out. I expected it to be good but I didn’t think it would be as good as it was. I thought I’d be messing with the recipe for a while trying to figure out a good combination of ingredients and methods to capture the essence of this classic food but I pretty much got what I wanted on the first try. That never happens to me, but I’m not complaining. If you choose to try this recipe, give yourself some time and then savor it when you’re done. It’ll be worth it.

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