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Christopher Burns Christopher Burns
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Wednesday night special

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Red beans and rice are another one of those iconic dishes served up all across Cajun country. Often served on Mondays as a lunch special, this dish was a favorite of jazzman Louis Armstrong and fictional hard-living detective Dave Robicheaux.

Variants of this dish can be found across the Caribbean and Central America, where the kidney bean was cultivated. It even has a cousin in north India by the name of Rajma.

Red beans and rice is a great dish for vegetarians and meatatarians alike. It is brimming with healthy vegetables, beans and rice, which, combined with Tofurky Italian 'sausage' for the true Louisiana experience, is full of protein, iron and more.

For this particular recipe you will want to begin soaking the kidney beans two days in advance. My recommendation is one day soaking at room temperature, the second in the fridge, and then taken out the morning before you begin cooking.

Vegan red beans and rice

prep time: 30 minutes

cook time: 2 hours

2 tbsp. canola oil;

1 yellow onion, diced;

5 garlic cloves, minced;

1 green bell pepper, diced;

3 celery stalks, sliced;

2 chili peppers, sliced;

2 tbsp. tomato paste;

1 tsp. flaxseed;

1 tsp. paprika;

1 tsp. dried oregano;

2 bay leaves;

1 1/2 tsp. dried thyme;

14 oz. Tofurky Italian Sausage, sliced;

1 lb. dried kidney beans;

7 cups water;

black pepper to taste

Heat the canola oil on medium in a 6.5 quart stainless steel skillet. When the oil reaches temperature, add the Tofurky 'sausage' to the pan lightly seasoned with black pepper. Cook the sausage for 5 to 10 minutes, or until browned. Remove from the pan and set aside on a plate in the fridge.

Keep the oil in the pan and add the flaxseeds, onion, garlic, bell and chili peppers, and celery, adding oil, if necessary. Cook the vegetables until soft and the onion becomes translucent, or about 10 minutes.

Once the vegetables have been thoroughly softened, add the water, seasonings, bay leaves and tomato paste. Raise the heat on the stove and stir until the tomato paste breaks down. Add the pre-soaked kidney beans, stir in and cook, uncovered, for 1 hour.

Be sure to check the mixture to see if more water is needed.

After an hour, remove the 'sausage' from the fridge and mix in the skillet. Let cook another 30 minutes to an hour, adding water if needed.

While the red beans finish, in a separate pot bring 3.5 cups water to a boil and add 2 cups rice, and cook for 30 minutes. The rice should be done about the same time as the beans.

Once the beans are finished (it may not take the whole 2 hours), remove the bay leaves and serve in a bowl over rice. And, as always, for added adventure douse it in a healthy serving of Sriracha.

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