On January 1st Brian and I packed our bags and headed to New Orleans for a much anticipated vacation. We had never been and yearning to go for quite some time. Just like life is, things kept popping up and the trip kept getting pushed back. When we realized that we both had some time to finally get away come January we jumped at the chance. I searched for a deal online, booked the trip, and waited on pins and needles for us to get there.
I couldn’t wait to walk around a city I have never been before. (One of my favorite parts of enjoying a new place.) Jazz music and beignets were to be indulged in, along with some great creole food. Believe me, New Orleans did not disappoint. The jazz music we stumbled upon both out on the streets and in clubs was so enjoyable. I tried beignets at three different places; and might I add that the ones at Morning Call were the best. Brian indulged in a New Orleans treat called “Crawfish Bread”…yes, he loved every nibble of it! We toured through the Treme, the Bywater, and Frenchman Street. We road the streetcars, strolled through City Park, indulged in a very nice meal at Bayona, and we even got to eat at the famous Dooky Chase (it was an honor to be there, but that is another blog post entirely).
I know many probably go to New Orleans to party, drink, and live it up till all hours of the night. But I am not everybody and I felt somewhat guilty about telling Brian that I wanted to go to bed by the time 10 o’clock rolled around. I rationalized it with it was my vacation and we did do a lot everyday we were there. We were up and at early each day, most likely while most were still fast asleep. I love being out and about in a new place just as the sun hits the sidewalks and you see the comings, and goings of everyday life there. By the time evenings roll around I am just as happy relaxing in my PJ’s and watching reruns of Criminal Intent.
I will admit that I loved just about everything in that city, and I am personally looking forward to going back and exploring new parts of it. There was one disappointment though. Being a vegetarian, there was a lack to good old creole or soul food I could indulge in. Lots of the dishes have ham, pork, or crawfish in them. At each place we passed by I would look over the menu, and see my option was a salad. I am not complaining mind you. I was prepared for this, and every salad I ate was really tasty. But I really wanted a dish of red beans and rice! They looked so good, and there were a couple of dishes of them I spotted that made my mouth water. What could I do about it? I did the only thing I knew I could. I purchased a bag of New Orleans Red Beans to bring home and once we were settled - Vegan Creole Red Beans and Rice was for dinner. The result: super tasty, savory, and oh so yummy! It may not be a traditional way of cooing them, but it was damn good! Maybe on my next visit there will be more food options for the vegetarian, in the mean time I will keep indulging in my vegan version.
Vegan Creole Red Beans (Serves 4)
1 cup dried red beans
1 green bell pepper, cored and diced
1 yellow onion, chopped small
3 cloves of garlic, chopped small
2 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 quart veggie stock
sea salt to taste
cooked white or brown rice (variety of preference)
First, the night before you would like to make this dish place your beans in a large bowl and cover with about 5 cups of water. Cover and set aside in a cool dark place overnight. (I personally just keep it on my counter out of direct sunlight.)
Next, drain the beans and place in a 4 - 6 quart pot with a a quart of water. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer for about 45 minutes.
Then, add your green bell pepper and onion. Along with this add your herbs, black pepper, and nutritional yeast. Stir it well and add your veggie stock. Let it all simmer together until your beans are tender and your liquid is reduced by half.
Finally, remove a few ladles of your mixture and puree. Add this mixture back to the pot and stir together seasoning it with your sea salt to taste. Ladle you mixture over rice and serve.