Cajun Red Beans and Rice

I adapted this recipe after experimenting with several “authentic” Louisian Cajun Red Beans recipes.  This is my favorite spicy variation.  It uses both a pressure cooker and a crockpot but is not difficult to prepare.

If  you like a lot of flavor, I highly recommend this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb bag of dried small red beans, picked over for debris
  • 1 medium yellow or sweet onion (Vidalia if available)
  • 1 bell pepper, washed (green is fine)
  • 2 stalks of celery, washed
  • 6 cloves of garlic, crushed and minced
  • 3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 4-5 squirts Tabasco Sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 quart of chicken broth

Soak beans according to the directions on the package either overnight or for at least 8 hours.  I soak them in my pressure cooker so I don’t have to transfer them from another pot.  Once beans are soaked, place the top on the pressure cooker, bring to a boil.  Once the pressure rises and the relief valve whistles 2-3 times, reduce heat and simmer for at least 20 minutes.  (if the beans are old stock, simmer for 25 minutes)  While the beans are simmering in the pressure cooker, dice the onions, bell pepper, celery and garlic.

Remove the pressure cooker from the heat and set aside to let the pressure release.  In a large skillet, add the olive oil and saute the onions, bell pepper and celery until the onions are opaque and the celery and bell peppers are soft.  Add black pepper, red pepper, oregano, thyme, Worcestershire and Tabasco and mix well.  Turn off heat.

Remove top from pressure cooker.  Prepare slow cooker by plugging it in and turning it to low heat.  With a colander, strain the beans and add them to the crockpot without the liquid.  Add the onion, pepper, celery mixture to the crockpot and stir into the beans.  Add bay leaf, parsley and the quart of chicken stock to just cover the beans.

Cover and cook at least 8 hours.  You can optionally remove a cup of beans, puree them in a blender and mix them back into the crockpot to thicken the bean mixture before serving.  Serve over rice with a side of smoked sausage, polska kielbasa or bratwurst.  This is also good with baked chicken.  As with most beans, they are even better when refrigerated and reheated.

Vegetarian Black Lentil Stew

I’m a big fan of all types of Lentils.  We have an international Farmer’s Market just outside of Decatur, Georgia in Avondale Estates that has a wonderful selection of both organic and conventionally grown lentils.

This is a recipe I make when my oldest is home.  She is pescatarian. (only eats fish and vegetarian)  If you are not vegetarian and are not opposed to using chicken broth, that is a good substitute for vegetable broth and gives it a milder flavor.  Also, keep in mind that lentils are much faster to cook than dried beans.  You do not have to pre-soak dried lentils!

Ingredients

1 medium onion, sliced
1/2 cup carrots, sliced (I use the baby peeled carrots)
1/2 cup celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 lb black lentils, picked over (use any color lentils you have available)
1 quart box of Vegetable broth (or chicken broth if you are not vegetarian)
1/2 teaspoon cumin if you like a bolder flavor (feel free to omit for a milder flavor)

Black Lentil Stew Prep

Saute onions, carrots, celery and garlic in a stew pot with the olive oil over medium heat until the onions turn translucent.  Stir in the lentils and mix well.  Add the cumin now if you want and mix well.

Black Lentil Stew Prep

Add quart box of broth, stir until stew comes to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for at least 30 minutes.  Serve in a bowl with a garnish of freshly chopped cilantro and even a shaving or two of Parmegiana Reggiano!