This easy Vegetable Jambalaya has amazing flavor with a bit of spice. I’ve got simple tips for creating satisfying vegetarian dishes to make all the difference!
I won’t name any names, but someone in my house made a joke about how there wasn’t any meat in my jambalaya. I’m no fledgling when it comes to vegetarian jokes. I hear them pretty regularly.
It can certainly be challenging to satisfy everyone when feeding a mix of carnivores, omnivores, vegetarians, vegans…you know what I mean. Sometimes I actually let the guilt get to me over not cooking meat as much as I used to. Then, a dish like this happens. Jokes fly, eyes roll, spoons enter mouths…hmmm. Vegetarian bliss.
So, that someone asked me how I get so much flavor without adding any meat. There’s nothing really complex about these tips, but I do think that dishes with lots of layers of flavor and spices are the easiest to vegetarian-ize. I usually will bump up the spices by using a variety to create depth and I like to use lots of herbs. Since we are not using meat, I find that adding additional healthy fats to your dish creates a richer and more satisfying taste and texture. I love drizzling some fruity extra-virgin olive oil over the top just before serving.
This colorful jambalaya is so easy and can work with any vegetables you have in the fridge. The addition of black-eyed peas adds some protein, iron, fiber and folate. You can certainly add some cubed tofu as well.
I’d love to hear your tips to creating vegetarian dishes!
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium sweet onion, sliced
- 2 stalks celery, cut into ½-inch slices
- 2 medium carrots, cut into ½-inch slices
- 1 medium red bell pepper, sliced
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon hot smoked paprika
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 2 bay leaves
- Kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 15-ounce can diced, fire-roasted tomatoes
- 1¼ cups white rice
- 2½ cups vegetable broth
- 15-ounce can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
- 8-ounces frozen cut okra
- hot pepper sauce
- handful chopped celery leaves or fresh parsley
- Heat the olive oil in a 10-inch skillet or braiser over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery and carrots. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 6 minutes or until the onions become a bit soft. Add the red pepper and continue to cook for about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, paprika, cayenne, oregano, thyme, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Stir to coat and add the tomatoes. Cook for 2 minutes. Add the rice. Stir to coat. Add the vegetable broth and stir.
- Cover the pot, increase the heat a bit and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook the rice covered for 10 minutes. Add the black-eyed peas and okra just over the top of the rice and cover. Cook for an additional 10 to 15 minutes or until the okra is tender and the rice is cooked. Remove from the heat, keeping the pot covered and allow it to sit for 5 minutes before serving.
- Stir and fluff the rice with a large fork. Top with your favorite hot sauce and a handful of chopped celery leaves or parsley.
Not all spices are created equal. I find it important to mention because different brands have varying intensities and flavors as do bottles that may have been in your cabinet for a while. That said, I always suggest starting with the amounts given in a recipe and taste-testing. Adjust from there. I've made this with one brand of smoked paprika that ended up having no taste and had to add more. The second time, it was just right using a different brand. Let me know what worked best for you.