23 August 2009


We've moved to the South, as you may have noticed, but we still don't know Southern food. That's why I purchased Cookin' Southern: Vegetarian Style by Ann Jackson to be my vegetarian's guide to the new local foods.

Gillian thoughtfully sent us a coupon for vegetarian meat so we tried a new kind of faux sausage, Italian sausage by Lightlife. Because George and I really enjoyed them (nicely browned), I suggested we make Jackson's recipe for jambalaya. My mother used to live in New Orleans and she's always going on about how good the food was there. Now is my chance to try it, one recipe at a time—I'm sure not going to wait around for a vegetarian restaurant to open that serves traditional Southern food. Vegetarian pigs will fly first!

We had different ingredients than Jackson called for, and I hate summer squash, and George didn't want that much sausage (go figure), so we changed around this recipe. If you eat gluten-free, just substitute real meat for the fake (and filled with wheat gluten—eek!) meat. Or if you're GF and vegetarian, try crisply browned tofu and/ or sautéed shiitake or black Chinese mushrooms. Here's what we did:

Vegetarian Jambalaya

1/2 Cup olive oil
3 Cups chopped onions
5 cloves garlic, peeled
2 frying peppers (we used Hungarian), sliced or chopped
2 small zucchini, chopped
3 tomatoes, blanched, peeled, and chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons salt (I use potassium chloride salt for less sodium)
1/2 of a 14 oz. package ground vegetarian sausage, crumbled
1/2 package flavored seitan, cut into chunks
2 bay leaves
3 Cups long-grain white rice
2 umeboshi (Japanese pickled plums), pitted and chopped
6 Cups water

1. In a large pot, heat oil, and sauté onions, garlic, peppers, zucchini, tomatoes, and half the salt until everything is golden brown and sticky.
2. Add sausage and seitan. Brown them.
3. Add bay leaves, rice, rest of the salt, and the umeboshi. Cook a little, add water, stir, and cover tightly.
4. Let it cook 35 minutes WITHOUT PEEKING. Ann Jackson writes here, "I'm telling you right now, young lady or young man, if you dare to lift that lid even once during the first 35 minutes the rice is cooking, I'm going to come over there and give you a piece of my mind. Is that clear?"
5. Uncover and make sure all the liquid is absorbed. Turn off the heat. Let it sit a few minutes, remove the bay leaves, and serve.

It serves probably about 8 and tastes great next to collards or any green. We've been eating a lot of leftovers. Home-cooked food is an amazing gift.

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