Cheap Eats! Vegetable Jambalaya

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
  1. In a large heavy pot, saute the onions in the oil over low heat.
  2. Once the onions have wilted, add the garlic, celery and carrots.  Stir and cook for one minute or until the garlic releases some aroma.
  3. 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).
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

9 Comments Add yours

  1. Katherine says:

    This is perfectly timed – I have tomatoes, parsley and a whole bunch of peppers from the farm share that I couldn’t figure out what to do with, as I am not a huge fan of peppers. I keep scanning the recipe here…where does it say how many peppers you used? Would a hot pepper work, too? I think we have 1 or 2 of those from the farm as well. I just wish the two heads of cabbage I have were bunches of collard greens instead. Do you think kale would be an acceptable substitution? I have some of that, too…

  2. Hey Katherine! Thanks for catching that. I added the peppers to the recipe now. I think that Kale would be a totally delicious substitution. Hot peppers would be awesome, maybe just use them instead of the tabasco. This is a really forgiving recipe. It is perfect for using up whatever you have in the way of harvest vegetables.

  3. Rollene says:

    Yum…’s time for this and it’s something I can do….lol! Have a great fall – I really enjoy your posts am always inspired! Aloha, Rollene

  4. glenda says:

    do you think this would freeze well? I am shopping today and get another big bag of those BC peppers, might have substitute the greens for Chinese greens, can’t always get collards here. This would be great to have on hand. Maybe freeze the stew w/o the rice?

    1. Exactly! Make the stew, freeze it, and then thraw it later and finish it with the rice.


  5. Gotta love a cheap eat! Looks amazing. X

  6. Lynda Petek says:

    Now that they are adults, not only can they cook for themselves, but they can cook for me. This past Mother’s Day my daughter made me wonderful french toast topped with homemade peach jam for brunch and my son made a delicious tomato bean stew with spinach and red peppers for dinner. He failed to follow a recipe, he only added elements and tasted as he went along, sometimes altering the proportions as he wished. I hung across the kitchen watching what he was creating as we chatted and the next recipe is more or less what he made.

    1. How lovely Lynda! You must be so proud of your kids. What a nice mother’s day gift.


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