Rice and Beans Episode 1: Louisiana Red Beans and Rice

This is the start of a new series I am doing on a variety of the old vegan favourite, rice and beans.

The reason why rice and beans are a staple of any vegans diet is simple, for everyone, but especially for us, it is a nutritional match made in heaven. Protein is made up of 21 essential amino acids, 12 of which can be produced by the human body without any aid. The other 9, we have to source from food. Animal protein has all 9 and as vegans, we don’t have it as easy as omnivores, but there are food combinations that you probably already eat that when combined together , make a ‘complete protein’, which is another way of saying “contains all the essential amino acids”. Peanut butter on toast is a complete protein for example, but the king of vegan complete proteins is definitely rice and beans. Eating the same combination can get boring though, so over this series, I am going to give different variations on it, taking influence from all around the World.

But to get things started, it’s the old classic ‘Red Beans and Rice’. This is a smoky, slow cooked and massively flavoursome recipe. It is the vegan equivalent of a slow cooked ragu that has been simmering for hours. Only no animals have to die to get there. I have chosen veg that works well with slow cooking. By making the pieces a little larger than you would normally when dicing, the flavour will be kept in and the veg will really cook down and compliment the beans.

It is a little time consuming, but, it is incredibly easy. The only thing that takes time (apart from soaking the beans) is chopping the veg. Once you have done that, it is a case of sitting back and waiting for the flavours to combine. The longer and slower the better, but I find around 2.5 hours will suffice. I have been told that you can use canned beans for this, but why would you do that? It won’t be anywhere NEAR as good….. Just remember to soak the dried beans overnight if making for lunch or in the morning if you are having it for dinner. Simply put the beans in a pot and cover with water by a few inches. Cover and leave alone….

I am excited about this series. I hope you find some new and interesting ways of getting your complete protein!

Red beans top

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups brown rice
  • 400g Dried Red Beans (kidney beans), soaked for at least 8 hours
  • 1 onion, chopped (make all these veg diced but slightly larger than you would normally)
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 red pepper (capsicum), chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1.5 litres vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 bayleaves
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • a pinch cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper
    Optional:
  • 3 or 4 spring onions, chopped
  • a handful olives, chopped
  • vegan sour cream
  • 2 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar in the last 30 minutes of cooking to add more balance to the beans

Red beans side

Cook it:

  1. Heat a large, heavy bottomed casserole dish (or similar) over a medium heat
  2. Add the oil
  3. Add the onion, carrot, pepper, celery and fry for about 5 minutes or until it has softened
  4. Add the garlic and fry for a further 2 minutes
  5. Add the spices and give everything a stir. Make sure everything is covered
  6. Drain the beans, and add them to the pan. Stir
  7. Add the stock and bay leaf and turn the heat to high
  8. Once the stock is boiling, lower the heat to a simmer, cover and leave for 2 hours. You may need to check every few minutes for the first 10 minutes or so to make sure the temperature is right. You don’t want it boiling and you don’t want the simmer too low
  9. If you need to add any liquid as you go, just add some more water. You probably won’t need to though
  10. About 10 minutes before the 2 hours is up, boil some water in another pot for the rice
  11. At the 2 hour point, take the lid off the casserole pan and then using the back of a wooden spoon, mash a few of the beans against the side of the pot
  12. Now leave to thicken. Over the next 30 minutes, magic will happen to that little pot! Stir every now and then. You can also add some balsamic vinegar at this point if you wish. Not a traditional ingredient like everything else has been, but it makes a nice difference
  13. Meanwhile, add the rice to the pan of water, this will take about 30 minutes (check package instructions to be safe though)
  14. Serve and enjoy. Make sure you have a beer with it too

Recommended Tunes:

The Meters - The Meters

The Meters “The Meters”

The Meters are perfect for this recipe. Originating in New Orleans, like the dish, they are musical soul food. You may not know the name, but you definitely know the music. Along with James Brown, they are credited for inventing funk music. Imagine a world without funk music??? It would be like a world without rice and beans. There would be no complete protein in music! The Meters are VERY important.

So sit down, stick this vinyl on and listen to some great instrumental tunes. Crack open a beer, sit back, relax and wait for the beans to cook, whilst getting slowly drunk to some classic Funk and Soul.

Amazing.

Listen – but do yourself a favour and buy it on vinyl!!

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5 thoughts on “Rice and Beans Episode 1: Louisiana Red Beans and Rice

    1. You sure could that would be fine. I don’t think it would need the same amount of time, but just keep checking every 20 minutes or so. If you REALLY want to cut the cooking time down, it won’t taste as good or be as nutritionally dense, but you can use canned kidney beans and far less stock. It will be ready in about 20 minutes then!

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