Beans and rice are inexpensive, nutritious foods that, when combined, form a complete protein. Your body needs protein to build and repair tissue AND you need to eat. This simple but satisfying dish is high in protein, iron, dietary fiber and B complex vitamins. When visiting New Orleans this month and still very limited in what I can eat following bariatric surgery, I chose a cup of beans & rice at most restaurants I visited. (#BariHack- loads of protein and the soupiness makes it very easy to eat.) The dish is available everywhere, very tasty and usually offered in the small portion I was looking for. It was less than $5.
In researching the origins of the dish, I discovered that Mondays have historically been the day associated with Red Beans and Rice in the Crescent City. Why? Well Mondays were traditionally laundry day. Since this was a weekly chore and completed by hand in olden times, it took the greater part of the day. Ladies needed a nutritious dinner that they didn't have to devote much attention to. A culinary masterpiece and tradition were born.
The restaurant who's version I enjoyed the most was a fun but touristy joint on Julia Street: Mulate's. Billed as "The Original Cajun Restaurant" it was packed late on a Sunday night and filled with live Zydeco music. To be fair, it was the only version I had that was made with spicy sausage, but I loved it and tried to recreate it below. Give it a whirl and see if you don't start adding it to your Monday routine, too.
Red Beans and Rice (A Nod to Mulate's Restaurant in NOLA)
1 lb. spicy cajun sausage (I like Aidell's Cajun Style Andouille), cut into bite-sized pieces
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 sweet bell pepper, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 lb. red beans, rinsed
11 cups water
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp cayenne pepper
4 cups cooked rice (Mulate's used white, but I like brown and wild a little better)
In a stock pot, brown sliced sausage over medium-high heat, remove from pot. Add onion and sauté until it begins to brown. Add bell pepper, garlic and celery to the pot. Reduce heat to medium and cook until veggies have softened. Add beans, water, salt, and cayenne. Boil gently, uncovered over medium heat, stirring occasionally for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Add browned sausage and 1/2 cup warm, cooked rice to each bowl before serving.
Pro Tip: While I LOVE the spicy sausage, smoky Tasso ham would be a great substitute for sausage.
Pro Tip: RB&R freeze well.
@Mulates @NOLA #redbeansandrice #barihacks
Elizabeth Morse cooks professionally, is an Advanced Master Gardener and lover of all things local.