Creole Classics, Veg Style
This delicious stuffed eggplant dish is inspired by recipes I came across in old Creole cookbooks. It’s filled with typical Creole flavors like celery, bell pepper, onion and garlic, and seasoned with fresh herbs — parsley, basil, and thyme. It’s a heavenly dish for eggplant fans! Photos by Hannah Kaminsky. more→
Spicy bits of vegan sausage lend an authentic flair to this simple vegan take on Jambalaya, a Creole-Cajun classic. Serve with any type of coleslaw and fresh corn bread for a hearty, satisfying dinner. Photos by Evan Atlas. more→
Here’s a light and lilting rice side dish, inspired by an old New Orleans Creole recipe. It abounds with a symphony of citrus notes — orange juice, orange zest, and tiny orange sections. Adapted from Great American Vegetarian by Nava Atlas. Photos by Hannah Kaminsky. more→
If one had to choose a single truly characteristic dish of New Orleans, it would be hard to come up with one more renowned than red beans and rice. A dish that has been around long enough to have become established in local folklore, it’s also one that even today, graces many New Orleans restaurant menus. Vegetarians visiting New Orleans should be aware that “red and white,” as it has come to be known, is often made with spicy smoked sausage.
When I visited New Orleans back in 1985, I was lucky enough to find a rare meatless version at the I & I Creole Vegetarian Restaurant, which is no longer open. The chef and owner, had made a batch that day. Her “secret ingredient” was a bit of peanut butter, which imparted a rich, roasted flavor. That, along with a good dusting of cayenne, produces an excellent adaptation of this classic. This isn’t a dish to start when you come home from work at night! It’s not a lot of work, but needs time to simmer. It’s perfect to make on a rainy Sunday afternoon. Adapted from Great American Vegetarian. Photos by Hannah Kaminsky.
- 2 cups (1 pound) dry red or kidney beans
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 1 medium green bell pepper, finely diced
- 2 large celery stalks, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 14- to 15-ounce can diced tomatoes (try fire-roasted)
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 heaping tablespoons natural peanut butter
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- Several leaves sliced fresh basil, or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Cayenne pepper to taste
- Hot cooked rice
Sort and rinse the beans, then soak the beans overnight in plenty of water to cover. Before cooking them, drain the beans, then place them in a soup pot with water in approximately 1 1/2 times their bulk. Bring to a simmer and add the oil, onions, bell pepper, celery, garlic, tomatoes, and bay leaves. Cover and simmer over low heat for 1 hour.
At this point the water level should be just below the beans and vegetables. Add a bit more water if necessary to bring it to that level. Add the peanut butter, parsley, basil, and thyme. Simmer gently over very low heat for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.
At this point there should be a thick, sauce-like consistency to the liquid. Mash a small amount of beans against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon.
Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne. Cover and cook until most of the beans have burst and are very soft, 20 to 30 minutes longer. The resulting consistency should be thick and saucy. Remove the bay leaves and serve over hot cooked rice.
Nutrition information (with 1/2 cup cooked rice)
Per serving: Calories: 297; Total Fat: 3g; Protein: 11g; Carbs: 54g; Sodium: 16 mg
From an old Creole recipe, this offbeat eggplant soup was a favorite discovery on a trip to New Orleans many years ago. It makes a wonderfully warming soup for winter or early spring. It’s believed that the soup originated locally due to the abundance of the eggplant crop in the region. more→
Traditionally, what makes Creole “dirty rice” dirty is the addition of fowl gizzards. Um, no thanks. Chopped eggplant, a Louisiana crop, takes its place in this super-satisfying veggie version. Not spicy in itself, but you can make it that way. That’s what Tabasco is for. Recipe contributed by Ellen Kanner. Photos by Hannah Kaminsky. more→
Here’s a classic combo of corn, bell peppers, and tomatoes, Creole style. This veggie side dish was adapted by Creole cooks from a dish made by the Native Americans who populated southwest Louisiana. Make it when there’s a bumper crop of fresh corn; and also it’s a great choice for a Thanksgiving side dish. Adapted from Great American Vegetarian by Nava Atlas. Photos by Hannah Kaminsky.