Being born and raised in New Orleans, I had a few opportunities to enjoy Jambalaya since nearly all recipes require pork products. So I had to learn how to make it myself.
More recently, I learned Jambalaya may have roots in Muslim history, being related to the Spanish dish paella. Paella originates from the 10th century when rice was first cultivated by Muslim settlers in Spain. Jambalaya likely originates as an attempt to make paella by Spanish settlers in Louisiana, and because saffron – a key ingredient in paella – was not available, tomatoes were used as a substitute (you’ll note the below recipe is heavy in tomatoes).
The below recipe originally comes from our favorite financial blog – The Simple Dollar. I’ve made a few modifications over the years, combining flavors and techniques from both cajun/creole influences as well as some influence from the Muslim world.
- 2 tablespoons butter (or 2 tablespoons olive oil)
- 1 chopped onion
- 1 chopped bell pepper
- 2-4 chopped celery rib
- 2 cups vegetable stock or chicken stock
- 14 oz. can crushed tomatoes
- 8 oz. can tomato sauce
- 2-3 garlic cloves minced or 1-2 tablespoon of garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon ground oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon (or more if you like it spicy) crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 cup uncooked long grain rice, washed
- 1 teaspoon (or more based on how spicy you like it) hot sauce
- 1 teaspoon (or to taste) salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 15 ounce can red beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 package frozen okra, cooked per package instructions (optional)
- Melt butter in a pot over medium heat
- Add onion, bell pepper, and celery and saute for four minutes or until onions start to sweat.
- Toast the red pepper and fennel seeds – in the left-over oil/fond for 30 seconds to bring out flavor.
- Add garlic (or garlic powder), chilli flakes, oregano, thyme, and fennel seeds to toast for 30 seconds and bring out flavor.
- Add vegetable/chicken stock, salt, pepper, can of crushed tomatoes, can of tomato sauce, Worcestershire, hot sauce, and bay leaf.
- Bring the mix to a boil, taste and add salt to taste (but be careful not to burn yourself), and then add the rice.
- Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 20 minutes until the rice is tender, stirring frequently.
- Then, add beans and okra (optional) and simmer for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently.