Sometimes when you’re traveling as a vegan, finding food can be tough. Let me rephrase that. Finding good food can be tough. As more and more convenience and fast food options meet the criteria for “vegan” (no dairy, no eggs, no meat), then vegans are challenged, like the rest of the Standard American Diet (SAD), to make choices about what’s actually good for us to eat. Adee and I recently traveled to Jazz Fest where, believe it or not, more than one vegan meal was available. On Sunday, we had the biggest surprise of all when we spent the day cruising around the French Quarter and discovered a great little joint that served Vegan Jambalaya. I knew I would have to make this dish for myself when we got home…and that’s exactly what I did.
Finding vegan eats on the road is definitely easier than it used to be. But finding Vegan Eats that gives you a flavor of the native cuisine? That’s a real treat! My favorite site (and now app) is Happy Cow where I go to find vegan restaurants in the area where I happen to be. I usually can find a veg-friendly restaurant in most well-know travel locations. But if I can’t find a veg-friendly version of local cuisine, I like to observe the dishes being served, ask questions about what makes that local novelty so good and then try making it myself at home…sans animal products.
Adee and I savored every last bite of our Vegan Jambalaya as we sat in the French Quarter and listened to a guitarist playing Stevie Ray Vaughn in the background. After a few cool (and muddy) days at Jazz Fest it felt so good to have the warm Sunday morning sun lighting our skin. Now I can recreate that scene at home with a little of our Jambalaya, sitting out on the deck and listening to the soulful tunes of our favorite music of the moment.
The recipe was surprisingly easy to throw together, especially since I made the brown rice ahead of time. I had an old bottle of Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning that had been sitting around my cupboards from a previous trip to New Orleans. For the life of me I couldn’t remember why I hadn’t used it in so long. I love spicy creole flavors! I’m so glad I had the presence of mind to try a bit of it on the rice before going whole hog with the recipe. It’s salty. Way too salty for my taste. So I’m recommending my own seasonings. You can always add more salt if you need it. That’s the beauty of making things at home – you get to make it exactly to your taste!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 2 - 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped sweet bell pepper (green, red, or yellow)
- 1/4 cup chopped celery
- 2 cups cooked brown rice
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more or less to taste)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 cup fresh tomatoes, chopped
- 1 tablespoon Bragg Liquid Amino (or soy sauce)
- 1/2 - 1 cup vegetable stock
- 1/2 package Vegan Chroizo Sausage (I used Yves Veggie Chorizo)*
- Steamed veggies of your choice (I used asparagus, sweet peppers, mushrooms, and summer squashes)
- Warm up the oil in a skillet over medium heat and onion and cook until translucent. Add the brown sugar and raise the heat a bit and cook until the onions take on a caramelized look, nice and browned on the edges. Remove from heat.
- Add the chopped garlic, peppers, and celery and stir. I like for these ingredients to take on a little of the leftover heat from the pan, but not to cook too quickly at this point.
- Add the rice, seasonings, chopped tomatoes, Bragg (or soy sauce) and vegetable stock and stir until well combined. Place the skillet back on the burner and heat it up to medium heat again. When you're ready, add the sausage. The Yves Chorizo sausage seems to work best by stirring it into the mixture (rather than leaving it as slices). You can use the full package if you'd like a stronger sausage flavor. Bring this to a simmer and then reduce heat to low.
- In the meantime steam the veggies of your choosing and serve them over the warm Vegan Jambalaya.