85°F
weather icon Clear

Easy dish has Big Easy roots

If you enjoy recipes that are easy, flavorful, filling and feed the whole family on the cheap, have I got a recipe for you. Let’s talk about jambalaya, the timeless Creole comfort food made with sausage, chicken or pork, loaded with vegetables and served over rice. Scrumptious.

Meaning “jumbled or mixed up,” jambalaya is the Big Easy classic with roots in French, Spanish, African and Native American cuisines. This down-home dish features the holy trinity: onion, bell pepper and celery. The holy trinity is a cousin of both the French mirepoix and Spanish sofrito and the savory backbone of Cajun and Creole dishes. Add some andouille sausage and you have the spirit of New Orleans on a plate.

This family favorite is my twist on traditional jambalaya. However, even though it tastes similar, we call it “Just About Jambalaya” because I do four things that disqualify me from claiming this as an “authentic” jambalaya recipe.

First, I use Old Bay seasoning instead of Cajun seasoning. I don’t cook the rice in the jambalaya because it gets mushy that way. I cook it separately and serve the jambalaya on top. I throw a handful of baby spinach over the rice before I ladle on the jambalaya, because I’m a sneaky vegetable hider.

Lastly, I garnish with sour cream because I have family with delicate spice-phobic palates. I’m fairly certain all this would get me hunted down by a pitchfork-wielding mob in the French Quarter.

This recipe is versatile. You can shop the sales and still come home with everything you need. You can use light or dark meat chicken, or any cut of pork. Traditionally, we’d add spicy andouille (ahn-DO-wee) sausage, but any variety of smoked sausage works, so pick what’s on sale. Those who don’t eat pork can substitute turkey sausage. It’s naturally gluten free. Those eating low carb can skip the rice and serve over a bed of baby spinach. Vegetarians can opt for vegan sausage or substitute a pound of quartered mushrooms and a can of small red beans for the meat in this recipe.

I take a shortcut by using frozen vegetables, specifically a mixed bell pepper and onion blend. Sometimes labeled “pepper stir fry”, this is a staple in my freezer a due to its ease, long shelf life and incredible versatility.

This recipe freezes well and easily doubles or triples for serving a crowd. I hope you’ll try this soon and see if your family agrees with mine, Just About Jambalaya is just about irresistible.

JUST ABOUT JAMBALAYA

Yield: 6 regular servings or 4 obnoxious ones

Time: 1 hour

What you’ll need:

2 cups brown or white rice to yield 6 cups cooked rice

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 12-to-14-ounce link andouille or kielbasa sausage

1 pound boneless, skinless white or dark meat chicken or pork

1 16-ounce bag frozen bell pepper and onion blend

1½ cups celery, sliced

1 14.5-ounce can Italian-style diced tomatoes

1 14.5-ounce can chicken broth

1 teaspoon Old Bay or Cajun seasoning

Serving suggestions: baby spinach, sour cream, green onion, hot pepper sauce

Here’s how:

Prepare rice according to package directions.

Slice the sausage into 1/8-inch slices then into half moons.

Cut the chicken or pork into 1-inch cubes.

In a large skillet on medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the sausage and sauté until browned and some flavorful fat has rendered. Push the sausage to the side of the pan and add the chicken or pork in batches to brown, pushing aside as you go. I’m going for color here; you don’t have to cook this completely because it’s going to simmer in liquid before serving.

When the meat has browned, remove from pan, set aside and keep warm. To the same deliciously dirty pan, add your frozen pepper and onion blend and celery. The frozen vegetables will release liquid; that’s OK. Let this liquid reduce as it brings lots of flavor to the dish. Keep cooking until vegetables are softened and most of the liquid has evaporated.

Now add the tomatoes, broth, seasoning and return the meats to the pan. Give it a good stir and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat and let this simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

Serve over rice, with a handful of spinach and garnish with sour cream, (if you’re not afraid of angry mobs) and green onion. Pass the hot sauce at the table.

Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is a recipe developer and food writer of the website “Divas On A Dime – Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!” Visit Patti at www.divasonadime.com and join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. Email Patti at divapatti@divasonadime.com.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
Würst Festival brings food, fun downtown

Members of Boulder City Sunrise Rotary invite the community to join them for a day of food, fun and festivities at the 26th annual Würst Festival on Saturday in Bicentennial and Wilbur Square parks.

Thunderbirds amaze spectators with acrobatics

Many oldtimers fondly remember the comic book and television versions of “Superman,” and the astonishment of the anonymous characters when they saw something foreign flying overhead — “It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Superman!”

‘Xeric’ plants, trees require less water

Thanks for sending me pictures of your plants. Many homeowners don’t know the names of plants in their yards or landscapes. Most can look at a plant and know if it is a tree, shrub, or flower but not its name much less how often it should be watered and with how much.

Family tradition highlights importance of Constitution

For more than 10 years, the Mitchell-Stankovic family has created a display at the Boulder City Library to commemorate Constitution Week, which will be observed Sept. 17-23.

Weather, location affects fruit production

Q. I have a Washington navel orange and Flordaprince peach tree planted this spring that a local nursery claimed was eight to 10 years old. The peach tree produced lots of small fruit. The orange tree produced tons of flowers but fruit that dropped from it after it flowered. The trees don’t look so good now. Your opinion please?

Nevada’s Yesteryear: Mines spurred trains’ construction

Mining was the main reason Nevada was developed as a state, what with the very rich Comstock Lode at Virginia City and numerous other communities and camps such as Delamar and Pioche. Mining was equally important in California as well and had been since the gold rush there of 1849.

Monsoon season creates perfect conditions for flies

Anyone watching HBO’s sci-fi series “Westworld” must be particularly creeped out by our current fly infestation, especially since the show filmed on location at Hoover Dam and Black Canyon this year. For folks not hip to this dystopian neo-Western, flies represent, well, pretty much the end of mankind as we know it.

Aviation heroes land at Chautauqua

Boulder City Chautauqua will be soaring to new heights and “Pushing the Envelope” when it returns later this month for performances at the pavilion at Boulder Creek Golf Club.

Many work on your be-fun-half

With nice weather right around the corner, many nonprofit organizations are busy planning their fundraising events to help fund their annual programming. These events are dual-purpose. First, they provide needed revenue to the organization so they can continue to do great works for us in Boulder City, therefore adding to our quality of life. Second, special events draw guests from around Southern Nevada into our community and provide needed revenue to the businesses in our community. When the business core is healthy, we see benefits citywide.

Mural brightens King’s walls, tells city’s history

The halls of King Elementary School are now a lot more colorful as a new mural welcomes students and visitors through the office entrance. Done by Boulder City local artist Connie Burnett Ferraro, this mural shows the history of the community and Southern Nevada in general. Things such as the Hoover Dam, bighorn sheep and a TWA plane (which Ferraro says is her favorite) are all present.