If you're looking for a hearty beans and rice dish packed with flavor, this Vegetarian Jambalaya is it. Packed with Cajun flavors and made in just one pot, this is my go-to easy meal for a Meatless Monday.
So, when I think of Jambalaya, I think of super flavorful rice with chunks of sausage, seafood and chicken. This vegetarian jambalaya is not that, however, it delivers the same big bold flavors with beans instead of meat.
This rice dish is full of the flavors of jambalaya (Creole seasonings, the holy trinity of vegetables, and small red beans). If you loved my Red Beans and Rice, you will love the same flavors here.
Before we go any further, we should talk about what makes this recipe Cajun, just in case this type of food is new to you. Cajun seasoning is made of paprika, spicy cayenne, garlic, oregano, pepper and thyme. It's a classic spice blend that is in almost every Cajun dish. You can even find it in my Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers.
Another tenet of Cajun cooking is the 'holy trinity,' which is the combination of onions, celery and bell pepper as the base to a dish. It's similar to 'sofrito' in Spanish dishes. Almost all Cajun rice dishes, stews, and gumbo start with this combination of vegetables. In my experience, adding Worcestershire sauce to dishes is another uniquely Cajun thing.
This recipe is super budget-friendly, and is also great for those nights when I actually forget to pull something out of the freezer to defrost.
If your veggie drawer in the fridge is fully stocked with celery, onion and bell pepper, and your pantry is stocked with canned beans, rice and spices, you can have this one pan meal in minutes!
- Red Onion. Just 1 cup of chopped red onion. If you only have yellow onion, that is fine here, too.
- Celery. One cup of chopped celery, not sliced. I like little bits of celery throughout the dish.
- Red Bell Pepper. The classic holy trinity calls for green bell pepper, but I prefer red, so that's what I use.
- Garlic. Three whole cloves, minced. I really prefer fresh garlic, not canned or jarred garlic that has already been minced. The flavor is sharper and more pungent with fresh.
- Cajun Seasoning. Use a Cajun seasoning that contains salt. I like Tony Chachere's brand.
- Bay Leaf. Another classic Cajun spice, a single bay leaf in the pot brings a subtle aroma and flavor.
- Dried Thyme. Yes, the Cajun seasoning has some thyme in it, but we're adding extra because we're mimicking the thyme that would be in the sausage of a regular Jambalaya recipe.
- Canned Tomatoes. If you can find them, fire-roasted tomatoes are amazing here. A 15-ounce can, please.
- Red Beans. One 15-ounce can of red beans, drained and rinsed.
- Worcestershire Sauce. This umami-rich sauce brings depth of flavor to a meatless dish. If you're vegan, look for a vegan Worcestershire or vegan fish sauce. You can also omit this.
- Rice. Long-grain white rice; not Jasmine rice or short-grain sushi rice.
- Broth. Low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth, since we're adding Cajun seasoning that already contains salt. Strict vegans and vegetarians, use vegetable stock.
How to Make Vegetarian Jambalaya
For this recipe, you need a deep pot with a lid--either a Dutch oven or a 10" skillet with high sides and a tight-fitting lid. The lid is key here, because we need to steam the rice.
Heat the oil in a deep pot or skillet, and then add the chopped onion, celery and bell pepper. Stir occasionally and saute for 5-7 minutes, until the veggies start to soften.
Next, add the garlic, Cajun seasoning, bay leaf and thyme; stir and saute for 1 minute, until very fragrant.
Add tomatoes, beans, Worcestershire, rice, and chicken broth, and stir together. Finally, bring the mixture to a brisk simmer, reduce heat to LOW, place lid on pot and cook for 19 minutes.
Remove the lid, fluff and cook for a few minutes to evaporate some extra tomato juices. This jambalaya is best when it’s slightly saucy, but not overly soupy.
Recipe Variations for Vegetarian Jambalaya
- Beans - If you're having trouble finding small red beans, you can use light red kidney beans, or even black beans in this recipe.
- Vegan - If you want to make this vegan, use vegetable broth in place of the chicken broth. Truly, it's that simple!
This is one of those recipes that makes me so happy to have leftovers. I feel this way about my Chickpea Tuna Salad, also. The leftovers seem to get better as they sit in the fridge.
As soon as you're doing eating, pack the remaining vegetarian jambalaya in food storage containers with tight-fitting lids, and refrigerate for up to 3 days. To reheat, pour contents into bowl and heat in the microwave, stirring often.
Yes, absolutely! I find that as long as your dish is heavily seasoned with Cajun seasoning, well-salted, and full of another type of protein, you really don't miss the sausage in this jambalaya recipe.
Of course, the holy trinity is in jambalaya: onion, bell pepper and garlic. But if you want to add more vegetables than that, you might be thinking of gumbo. Gumbo is the Cajun recipe that contains okra and corn. Regular jambalaya is just a spiced rice dish with protein.
I love how easy this recipe is to make vegan! Simply use vegetabroth broth instead of chicken broth. If you're looking to make a recipe you already have vegan, omit the meat and use red beans instead, and double up on the spices. Add extra spices that are commonly found in andouille (Cajun sausage), like thyme, garlic, paprika, and cayenne pepper.
More Favorites from Bean Recipes
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 cup chopped red onion
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 teaspoons Tony Chacherie Cajun seasoning (with salt)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 15-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1 15-ounce can of small red beans (or light kidney beans), rinsed and drained
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- ¾ cup long-grain white rice
- 3 cups chicken broth
1. Heat oil in a medium-sized Dutch oven pot.
2. Add the chopped red onion, celery, and bell pepper. Stir, and sauté for 5-7 minutes, until the veggies start to soften.
3. Add the garlic, Tony Chacherie seasoning, bay leaf and thyme; stir and sauce for 1 minute until fragrant.
4. Add tomatoes, beans, Worcestershire, rice, and chicken broth. PHOTO
Bring to a brisk simmer, reduce heat to LOW, place lid on pot and cook for 19 minutes.
5. Remove the lid, fluff and cook for a few minutes to evaporate some extra tomato juices. This jambalaya is best when it’s slightly saucy, but not overly soupy.
Leftovers: As soon as you're doing eating, pack the remaining vegetarian jambalaya in food storage containers with tight-fitting lids, and refrigerate for up to 3 days. To reheat, pour contents into bowl and heat in the microwave, stirring often.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 154Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 2mgSodium: 939mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 5gSugar: 6gProtein: 6g