We've been making vegetarian red beans and rice for a long, long time, but this is the best version yet. The addition of the andouille-spiced eggplant (an idea that came to me while I was out on a run) and also the smoky sun-dried tomatoes...all I can say is I wish I would have thought of this long ago!
If you're looking for a crowd pleaser, this is it. This is a great recipe for entertaining because everything can be done well ahead of time. In fact, this is one of those dishes that is even better the next day. It's best served with some crunchy, buttered french bread, a healthy dash of Tabasco sauce, and a cold Abita Turbodog.
Vegetarian Red Beans and Rice
1 1/2 cups dried red beans (soaked overnight in 3 cups of water)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 cups onion (diced)
1 cup celery (diced)
1 cup green pepper (diced)
1 cup smoked sun-dried tomatoes* (small dice)
4 cloves garlic (minced)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 tsp cayenne
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tablespoon Creole mustard
1 teaspoon red miso paste (optional)
4 cups vegetable stock
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 cups water
sea salt and cracked blackpepper to taste
6 cups cooked brown rice
Andouille Eggplant (recipe follows)
1 1/2 cups sliced green onion for garnish
Heat the butter and oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sweat it all down until they are translucent and beginning to brown. Add the celery, green pepper, smoked sun-dried tomatoes, and fresh garlic; cook until all the vegetables have begun to soften. Stir in the dry spices, mustard, and miso. Add the soaked and drained beans, stock, vinegar, and bay leaves. Allow mixture to simmer over low heat for two hours or until beans are tender. Add water if the mixture is looking dry.
To serve, spoon about a cup of rice onto the center of a dinner plate and add an equal about of the red bean mixture on top. Top that with 5-6 eggplant slices. Garnish with sliced green onion and plenty of Tabasco sauce.
*Smoked sun-dried tomatoes can be found at specialty food stores such as Fresh Market. If they are unavailable in your area, simply use sun-dried tomatoes and 10 drops of liquid smoke.
4 cups Japanese eggplant (1-inch slices cut on the bias)
1/2 teaspoon each: salt, thyme, garlic, crushed red pepper, black pepper
3 tablespoons canola
Toss eggplant slices with the spices and 1 1/2 tablespoons of canola oil. Heat a large frying pan over high heat. Add the remaining canola. Once the oil begins to smoke, add the eggplant so that the cut side of each eggplant slice makes contact with the pan. Working quickly, you then turn each slice over once it is deeply browned, about 45 seconds, and cook the other side in the same way. This may be done in batches -- just add a little canola if the pan looks dry. Set cooked eggplant aside on a paper towel to drain.