The other day, I was thinking about the way I used to eat. Back when I was in college and shortly after I graduated. Let’s just say it wasn’t very healthy or very delicious. Looking back, I think there was a period of time where I just completely forgot that I knew how to cook a decent meal. Plus, I couldn’t really be bothered. Like a lot of people, I had the misconception that cooking a real dinner out of real ingredients would be too expensive and take too much time. So we’d boil a box of pasta and mix it with a jar of sauce and some sausage. Or we’d try to be “healthy” and make a chicken stir-fry, but we would totally ruin it by using store-bought marinades that were loaded with sugar. For a special treat, we’d buy a box of zatarain’s mix and make jambalaya.
I don’t miss the other stuff at all, but I do kind of miss the jambalaya. And with Foodbuzz pledging to donate $25 to the Greater New Orleans Foundation (helping fishermen who were effected by the oil spill and their families) for every Gulf-Inspired post this weekend, it seemed like the perfect excuse to make it. Of course, I wasn’t going to resort to using a box – I know better than that now! (And a quick look at the back of the box confirmed my suspicions — 21% of your RDA of sodium? MSG? Sodium dioxide?? No thanks!) No, this jambalaya is 100% real food and 100% real flavor. Sure you have to spend a few minutes chopping vegetables, but other than that it really isn’t any more difficult or time consuming than the boxed stuff. And the final product is so much healthier and so much more delicious that there really isn’t any excuse to take “shortcuts”!
Cajun Jambalaya with Okra, Andouille and ShrimpPrint Pin Rate
- ½ lb. shrimp cleaned with tails removed
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 Tbs oregano dried
- 1 tsp thyme dried
- ¼ lb. Andouille sausage sliced into rounds (Chicken andouille works well if you can find it)
- ¼ cup chopped onion
- ¼ cup chopped green pepper
- 2 stalks celery chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 4 plum tomatoes chopped
- 3 cups fat-free chicken stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp Tabasco sauce plus more to taste
- 1 cup quick cooking brown rice
- 1 cup okra sliced into rounds
- 2 tsp fresh basil chopped
- salt and pepper
- In a bowl, combine the shrimp, cayenne, oregano, and thyme. Toss to coat.
- Set a heavy pot over high heat and add the andouille. Cook for several minutes, until the andouille begins to brown and crisp on the outside edges. Add the onion, pepper, celery, and garlic. Cook 3-4 minutes to allow the vegetables to soften. Add the tomatoes, stock, bay leaves and Tabasco.
- Slowly stir in the rice. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Add the shrimp (along with any remaining seasonings from the bowl) and okra. Cook another 5-10 minutes, until the shrimp is cooked through and the rice is tender.
- Stir in the basil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with additional Tabasco so each diner can adjust the amount of spice to suit their taste.