Beans and rice are staple foods for poor folks all over the globe. Here is an especially tasty version inspired by Cajun cuisine. It’s not too spicy so I recommend you pass Louisiana hot sauce at the table. Serve it in bowls topped with finely chopped fresh onion.
The first version is the method I make when I can afford to. After the recipe is a “Hard Times” version that reduces the cost while still producing a tasty dish. The original dish is pretty affordable, while the “Hard Times” version is downright cheap.
The beans for this dish can be leftover or cooked earlier in the day. Or you can use canned beans. Kidney beans and pinto beans are both appropriate. In my area pinto beans are much cheaper. To make enough beans for this dish use 1-1/4 cup dry beans.
While I usually prepare this dish with converted rice, you can use long grain white rice if you prefer. Long grain white rice is cheaper than converted rice, although it’s not as nutritious. If you prefer to use brown rice, then simply cook the mixture for 35 to 45 minutes, instead of the 25 to 30 called for below.
Cajun Style Red Beans & Rice with Sausage
- 12 to 16 ounces smoked turkey sausage or beef sausage, sliced
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1/2 a large green pepper, chopped, (about 1/2 to 3/4-cup)
- 2 or 3 stalks celery, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced (2-teaspoons) OR 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 or 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/2 teaspoon dry thyme OR oregano
- 2 cups chicken broth (can be made from bouillon cubes)
- 3 to 4 cups cooked red beans, well drained OR 2 (15-ounce) cans of red beans, well drained and rinsed to reduce the sodium
- 8 ounce can tomato sauce, low-sodium
- 10 ounce can tomatoes with green chiles
- 1 cup converted (parboiled) rice OR long grain white rice (dry)
- 1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
I love this meal because it’s so easy.
First slice the smoked sausage. Then chop the vegetables.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan–at least 3-quart sized. Add the sausage and vegetables. Fry them for 5 to 10 minutes, or until they are starting to soften and smell really good. Add the thyme, broth, beans, tomato sauce, tomatoes with green chiles, dry rice and soy sauce. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot with a good lid or handy pie plate or pizza pan. Simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the rice is tender. You may stir the mixture while it cooks, although you don’t have too.
Serve topped with finely chopped onions and a slice of watermelon or pineapple. Canned or frozen spinach is a nice accompaniment. Fresh sliced cucumbers are good with it too.
To reduce the sodium use unsalted homemade chicken broth or no-salt-added chicken broth or water. Omit the soy sauce. The sodium reduces to 912mg per serving. Smoked sausage is pretty high in sodium so no matter what you do, it’s hard to bring the sodium down much farther.
Makes 4 to 6 servings. Assuming 6 servings, prepared with 12-ounces turkey sausage, 1-tablespoon oil, low-sodium tomato sauce and broth made with granulated broth powder.
Per Serving: 349 Calories; 3g Fat (7.5% calories from fat); 21g Protein; 61g Carbohydrate; 7g Dietary Fiber; 25mg Cholesterol; 1065mg Sodium.
Exchanges: 3 Grain(Starch); 2 Lean Meat; 1-1/2 Vegetable; 1/2 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates.
Cajun Style Red Beans & Rice for Hard Times
- For the meat you can substitute hot dogs. They are actually pretty good in this dish. Or if you don’t have hot dogs, then 1/2-pound of turkey or pork breakfast sausage is good too. Another option is to use turkey ham or regular ham in place of the smoke sausage. Half to three-quarters of a pound (1-1/2 to 2-cups) of either is good. Leftover ham or smoked pork shoulder can also be used to good effect.
- If you don’t have green pepper then just leave it out. You can use 4 stalks of celery instead, or just stick with 3.
- For the tomatoes you can omit the tomato sauce and use a 15-ounce can of tomatoes instead. Add 1/4-teaspoon ground red pepper or red pepper flakes to reproduce the heat found in the tomatoes with green chiles.
- If you only have a little bit of fresh onion, then save it to top the finished dish. Use 2-tablespoons of dry minced onions instead of the fresh onion. Don’t fry it with the celery. Instead add it with the beans and tomatoes.
- If you want to make more servings then increase the rice to 1-1/2 cups and use 3 cups of chicken broth. You may need a 4-quart pot. If I don’t have homemade chicken broth then I always make my own chicken broth by using water and broth powder or bouillon cubes.