This is the lean time for me. I am a freelancer and, in my field, there is not much work in August or September. Don’t cry too many tears for me. I could buckle down and live within my means for my two months of underemployment, but I usually travel and have fun cooking food that I normally don’t have time to try. Reality hits in October when I start work again, but still have another month before I get a full pay check.
So, in early October I play the “What can I make with the food I have in my pantry and freezer ?” game and the “What can I make with the vegetables in the cheap and ready bags of produce for a dollar?” game. This week, I made Vegetable Jambalaya. It used vegetable stock made from vegetable scraps from my freezer. It used rice, spices and canned black eyed peas and tomatoes from my pantry. It used onions, garlic, celery, carrots and collards which are always cheap. It used green and red bell peppers which are cheap right now.
In addition to being made from inexpensive ingredients this jambalaya recipe makes a crazy amount of food. When I need to feed a lot of people, this is a recipe that I make. It is also good for large groups since it is vegetarian, vegan AND gluten-free. The only folks who can’t eat this are people who are allergic to tomatoes and or peppers.
Did I mention that Vegetable Jambalaya is delicious? It is. This recipe loosely based on one from Sheila Lukin’s USA Cookbook. I have found that it responds very well to adaptation. I have taken out the zucchini (I’m allergic to it) and added collard greens and I have added Tobasco Sauce, Worcestershire Sauce and allspice. I use more black eyed peas and I am pretty loose with the exact measurements of chopped vegetables.
adapted from the USA cookbook by Sheila Lukins
- 3 Tablespoons mild oil
- 1 onion diced (about a cup)
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 2 stalks of celery, diced (about 3/4 cups)
- 1 carrot, scrubbed and diced (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 bunch of collard greens, stems cut out, leaves cut into (about) 1/2 inch squares
- 1 teaspoon dry thyme
- 2 Teaspoons paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- a generous pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- a generous pinch of allspice
- a splash of Tabasco Sauce
- a splash of Worcestershire Sauce
- 2 green bell peppers diced
- 2 red bell peppers diced
- 2 cups cooked black eyed peas (1 drained 15.5 ounce can)
- 1 28 ounce can plum tomatoes with their juice (or use 2 pounds fresh tomatoes if they are cheap and ripe. Directions for peeling tomatoes can be found here)
- 3 and 1/2 cups vegetable broth, preferably home-made (recipe here)
- 1 and 1/4 cup long grain, white rice
- 1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley
- In a large heavy pot, saute the onions in the oil over low heat.
- Once the onions have wilted, add the garlic, celery and carrots. Stir and cook for one minute or until the garlic releases some aroma.
- Add the collard greens and all of the spices and sauces and cover the pot. Turn the heat up to medium high and let the collards wilt (about 3 minutes).
- Add the tomatoes, peppers, beans and stock. Bring the stew to a boil and then reduce the heat to simmer the stew, partially covered for about 10 minutes. Taste the stew and adjust the seasoning. At this point, you can cool the stew and put it in the fridge and finish the jambalaya another day, or you can proceed right away.
- Bring the stew to a boil. Add the rice and give it a stir. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot and cook until the rice is tender (2o minutes). Let the stew rest with the cover still on for 10 minutes before serving it garnished with parsley.