Recipe: Vegan Jambalaya

Classic Louisiana Creole comfort food with vegan twist

The+perfect+way+to+warm+up+on+a+cold+day%2C+or+any+day.

ANNA YOUNG

The perfect way to warm up on a cold day, or any day.

ANNA YOUNG, Evergreen columnist

I was born in the bayous of Louisiana on a cold fall day in ‘99. Some say I was born with a whisk in my hand, learning to cook before I learned to walk.

I’m kidding. Anyone who knows me knows I hate cooking and would happily eat breakfast cereal for every meal of the day given half a chance. One cannot live on Cocoa Puffs alone, though, so sometimes I venture out of my comfort zone and try to make a little something.

My parents were always fond of “throw everything in a pot and forget about it” recipes, preferably ones with lots of paprika and cayenne pepper, so that’s what I did with this jambalaya recipe.

What’s the catch, you say? Well, this recipe is vegan. One of my vegan friends came to visit, and I didn’t want to make her eat the old potatoes and nearly-expired quinoa lurking around my apartment.

With that being said, here’s what you’ll need. Take liberties and explore, because I’ve made it a little different every time.

INGREDIENTS:

Vegetables

  • 1 onion (white or yellow)
  • 2-3 celery sticks
  • 3-4 bell peppers (any color; I like red, yellow and orange)
  • 3 jalapenos (you can add more or fewer depending on your spice tolerance)
  • 2-4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 can crushed/diced tomatoes (14 ounce is fine)

Spices

  • 2 tablespoons Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2-3 bay leaves

Other

  • Olive oil
  • 32 ounces vegetable stock
  • 1.5 cups rice (basmati is particularly good, but pretty much anything goes)
  • 1 package vegan sausage (Beyond Meat Hot Italian Sausage slaps)
  • Pack of mushrooms (Portobello, white, whatever)

RECIPE: 
1. Chop the onion, bell peppers and celery into smallish cubes. Mince the garlic and jalapenos, too. Throw all of it together in a bowl. If you’re smart, you’ll do this before you turn on the stove and start trying to do every step at the same time.

2. While you’re at it, measure those spices (Creole seasoning, cayenne, thyme, bay leaves) into a small container of some kind. Don’t inhale when you’re pouring in the Creole seasoning unless you enjoy the sensation of getting maced.

3. Chop the vegan sausage into rounds, and if the mushrooms are too big for your liking, you can chop those as well. In a large pot on the stovetop, drizzle some olive oil and set the heat to medium or medium-high.

4. Fry the sausage and mushrooms for a few minutes, until both are lightly browned. Dump onto a plate and set aside.

5. Drizzle more oil in the pot (the more, the better) and sautee those vegetables you set aside. It’s gonna smell really nice, so get a good whiff.

6. Once the onion pieces are translucent, add the crushed tomatoes. Mix and add the vegetable stock, rice and spices. Stir it good, wait for it to bubble and then put the lid on and turn the heat to medium-low.

7. Set a timer for 20-25 minutes, and check every 5-ish minutes to stir so the rice doesn’t stick. If you hate timers, this is about the duration of one cribbage game.

8. Once the time is up, you should have a fairly thick stew with a little liquid remaining. Now’s the time to add in the sausage and mushrooms.

And voila! You’re done, and with enough vegan jambalaya to share. Best served alongside homemade apple cider (with a little Sailor Jerry’s mixed in, if you’re old enough).

If you’re a bad, lazy or inexperienced chef, don’t be intimidated. All of those adjectives apply to me, and I still managed. If it helps, bring a friend over to do all the chopping while you find the right playlist to “establish ambiance.”

With the cold weather setting in, this recipe is a good way to warm up. All in all, it shouldn’t cost more than about $30 (give or take depending on where you shop and what ingredients you already have). Plus, if you aren’t vegan, it’s easy enough to replace the vegetable stock with chicken stock and use real sausage and shrimp instead of Beyond Meat and mushrooms.

Stay toasty out there. If you make this recipe, go ahead and invite me over. It’s really the least you can do after I shared my special knowledge.