For a long time, I puzzled over what to call this recipe. While it’s inspired by the flavors and methods of Cajun and southern cooking, it’s not exactly Dirty Rice, Red Beans and Rice, or Hoppin’ John. But it’s really delicious, and if you want a hearty, vegan main dish, you should make it. It can be served on its own, as a side dish, or even re-purposed and rolled into burritos or enchiladas.
The method for this recipe involves three separate steps and dirties two pieces of cookware, and you’ll have to plan ahead, soaking the beans overnight or for at least 6 hours. It is very easy to put together, however, and if you can manage to cook rice and make a stir-fry, you can easily prepare this dish. Whatever it’s called.
I used the “holy trinity” of celery, bell pepper, and onion, common to many Cajun and Creole recipes. I then seasoned it generously, invoking the flavor of smoked sausage by using sage, thyme, ground pepper, and a good dose of smoked paprika. By the way, if you do vegetarian cooking and you haven’t tried smoked paprika yet, you’re seriously missing out! It’s fantastic in chili, goulash, or anywhere you want a smoky, deep flavor.
What resulted was a flavorful and filling bowl of rice and beans. With Volcano Rice from West Java and cranberry beans, grown in the United States but South-American in origin, it’s far from traditional in any cuisine. Call it whatever you please and serve it with your favorite hot sauce.
Cajun-Spiced Cranberry Beans and Volcano Rice
serves 6 as a main dish, 8 as a side dish
1/2 lb. dried cranberry or borlotti beans
1 C. volcano rice (or any long-grain brown rice)
3 Tbsp. olive oil
3 ribs celery, diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 large green bell pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. sage
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1. Soak the cranberry beans in water overnight. Drain.
2. In a medium (2.5 quart) saucepan, cover the beans with enough water to cover by about 2 inches. Bring to a boil, then turn down to low and simmer until beans are cooked through, about one hour.
3. Drain beans, reserving cooking liquid. Set aside beans, and measure 1 3/4 C. of the cooking liquid back into the saucepan. Add rice. Bring up to a boil, then turn down to low and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
4. In a 12″ nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil and garlic over medium heat. When garlic starts to bubble, add the onion, bell pepper, celery, and salt. Sautee for about ten minutes, or until the vegetables are no longer giving off liquid.
5. Add the sage, thyme, and pepper, and sautee for another two or three minutes.
6. Add the cooked beans and rice to the skillet. Stir to combine, and turn off heat. Let sit, covered, for 15 minutes before serving.