Like many people these days I’m trying my best not to rely too heavily on meat in my diet. It’s an easy route to take as a meal option, but it’s an expensive habit and an environmentally unsustainable one at that, so I’m trying to get a bit of variety into my diet. The internet is full of people attempting “Meatless Mondays”, which I think is a fantastic idea, so I’m going to be blogging my efforts in the hope that some of my experiments will become favourites for any day of the week.
I’m starting off with jambalaya, a dish I usually make with chicken, but that contains so much flavour it’s still a fantastic meal without it. This recipe is vegan but you’d be hard-pressed to find a carnivore that would complain, so it’s great for entertaining if you’ve got guests with different dietary requirements.
Jambalaya is a traditional Creole dish from Louisiana, where French and Spanish influences and local ingredients have fused to create something closely related to paella and risotto. I’m a sucker for proper American cooking, a result of too many hours spent watching Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, and jambalaya was a staple meal of my uni years. The process was usually accompanied by shouts of “JAM-BALAYA” from my housemates, which started out as a Scrubs reference but has long since lost all meaning.
Alongside the creole “holy trinity” of onion, pepper and celery, my vegetable version includes courgette. It isn’t an authentic ingredient but I think it works well with the other flavours, and it’s a nod to the french influence so I think I can forgive myself! You can also whack in a handful of frozen peas when you add the tomatoes for an extra bit of colour.
1 large onion
2 sticks of celery
1 red pepper
1/2 an orange or yellow pepper
1 small courgette
1 clove of garlic
1 can of chopped tomatoes
280g basmati rice
1 heaped tbsp vegetable bouillon powder
1 heaped tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 bay leaf
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Roughly chop the onion, celery and red pepper and fry in olive oil in a casserole or large , deep frying pan over a medium heat. As they begin to soften, chop the courgette into small semi-circular slices, mince the garlic and chuck them into the pan as well. Once the courgette starts to get a bit of colour to it, stir in the paprika and cayenne and let it sweat for a few more minutes before mixing in the rice. Boil a kettle and pour in enough water to cover the rice by about half an inch, and add the bouillon powder and bay leaf. Bring it all up to the boil and stir occasionally as the water reduces (you may find you need to add more water as you go, but do it in small quantities, you don’t wanna drown it!). As the rice gets close to being fully cooked and the water has mostly been absorbed, stir in the tin of tomatoes and the lemon juice. You may wish to add more paprika/cayenne at this stage as well, depending on how spicy you like things! Reduce everything down for about 5 more minutes, until the liquid has gone, remove the bay leaf (if you can find it!) and serve straight away.
So there you have it, my first Meatless Monday! Let me know if you’re trying it too, or even if you have a favourite veggie meal idea you want to share, I’m always looking for inspiration!