Prep & Cooking time: 50-60 minutes
Notes: This recipe contains: Vitamin A, B-Vitamins, Vitamins C & K, protein, fibre, calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, has no added sugar and is low in salt and saturated fats!
We’d like to start off by saying that this was a great dish to make! It contains so many great flavours that are easily created in your own kitchen (essentially by using whatever ingredients you have on hand!) …and in virtually no time at all. We did a little bit of reading around this dish, and this is what we found…
The origin of jambalaya is not completely clear, but it seems to have originated in Louisiana. It’s a simple, inexpensive and versatile rice dish that was created out of necessity, one that is prepared differently depending upon the region. It is believed to have been inspired by both French and Spanish culture, which is why it’s quite similar to Spanish paella (a multi-faceted mixture that was also designed to feed many people inexpensively)! Unlike paella it does not use saffron; smoky and/or hot spices accompanying delicious herbs make this a very distinguishable dish.
It’s now a popular dish enjoyed in particularity in the Southeastern regions of the United States. There are two types, ‘Creole’ and ‘Cajun’ style, both of which have slightly different cooking methods and ingredients that were indicative of the local resources available at the time and were also shaped through cultural influences; original European settlers (particularly French and Spanish) versus the ‘Acadians’.
Classic versions of this recipe contain not only vegetables but generally some type of seafood, meat, poultry or sausage…but not in the Eat2Health kitchen. We used hearty kidney beans, robust garden peas, various other vegetables and of course a tasty seasoning!
Our recipe seems to be an amalgamation of the two types. Cajun recipes do not tend to include tomatoes, and use more spices and less herbs (like ours), whilst Creole recipes can use an abundance of vegetables (similar to the ones we have included; which includes tomatoes!), as well as less spice, and all of the ingredients are cooked together; Cajun recipes brown and caramelise their meat first, giving the dish a brown colouring. This is why the two types are also known as Cajun ‘brown’ jambalaya, and Creole-style ‘red’ jambalaya.
Although our recipe may not be authentic (we are aware that lemons are not the norm!), it’s still a cheap, versatile, healthy, one-pot dish, that is great for the whole family and (maybe most importantly) delicious and bound to put a smile on your face! …Thank you Cajun spice mix!
Feel free to use your own spice mix!
Place the frozen bell peppers and peas into a microwavable dish; defrost in the microwave. Drain.
In the meantime, peel and dice the onion and garlic. Wash, remove the stem, de-seed and chop the chilli (leave the seeds intact if you prefer your dish extra spicy!). Wash, trim the ends and finely slice the celery. Wash, trim the ends, peel and quarter the carrot. Wash, remove the stem, de-seed and chop the bell pepper into cubes. Drain and rinse the beans. Prepare the Cajun seasoning mix (if applicable); place all of the spices and herbs into a small dish and mix together.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large, non-stick frying pan over a medium-low heat.
Add the onion, garlic and chilli. Gently fry for 1-2 minutes or until softened.
Add the defrosted peppers, celery, carrot and bell pepper. Gently fry for 3-4 minutes or until slightly softened.
In the meantime, boil some water in a kettle. Prepare the stock.
Add the Cajun seasoning. Stir to coat.
Add the rice and tomatoes. Stir and mix together.
Gently break apart any big pieces of tomato with the edge of your frying spatula.
Pour in the (boiling hot!) stock and water. Add the defrosted peas, beans and bay leaves. Stir to combine.
Cover with a lid or a sheet of kitchen foil. Bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer. Cook for 20-30 minutes or until the rice is cooked.
NB: Check your mixture about half way through the cooking time; we had to quickly stir the mixture and add a few extra tablespoons of water.
In the meantime, wash and place the kale into a steamer pot with some water. Bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer. Steam for 3-4 minutes or until tender. Drain.
Meanwhile, wash, dry and chop the coriander; we ripped off and discarded most of the large stems…but the choice is yours. 🙂
Wash and quarter (or slice) your lemon.
Remove the pan from the heat. Remove and discard the foil (if applicable). Give the jambalaya a thorough stir before serving.
NB: Also make sure to remove and discard the bay leaves before serving!
Garnish with the coriander and the lemon (or whatever else you desire). Bring the frying pan to the dinner table for the whole family to dig in and enjoy!
NB: Make sure to place it over a heat-proof mat or chopping board! We decided to add some fresh thyme and pitted black olives! 🙂
Serve immediately. Place the kale into the bottom of a large serving bowl. Spoon over the jambalaya.
We served ours with kale (not only because we love the taste!) but we felt felt that this dish needed a further ‘green’ element to it!
Refrigerate any leftovers in a resealable container (ideally within an hour after cooking); reheat and consume within 1-2 days. Alternatively freeze in one or more resealable containers; defrost, reheat and consume within 1-2 months.
NB: When reheating, always check to make sure the rice is steaming hot all the way through and do not reheat the rice more than once.
- Feel free to use your own Creole or Cajun seasoning mix! Experiment with the levels of spice and herbs to create your perfect combination!
- Adapt the vegetables as you see fit!
- Use a low-fat frying spray instead of rapeseed (canola) oil to further reduce the fat content.
- Use your favourite type of rice; we recommend brown basmati or brown long grain rice.
- Try using a different type of bean (a dry or tinned variety), lentils, or maybe some tofu or tempeh instead!
Jambalaya Origin Sources: