Introduction: New Orleans Jambalaya (Vegan-Friendly)

Picture of New Orleans Jambalaya (Vegan-Friendly)

New Orleans....the birth place of:

  • America's original cocktail, the Sazerac
  • Vitascope Hall, the first movie theater in America
  • The French Opera House, North America's first opera house
  • Columbia Picture's Logo
  • America's first pharmacy by Louis Dufilho, Jr.
  • Higgins Boat (a turning point for the Allies in World War II)
  • And...world-famous creole jambalaya!

A little history about creole jambalaya:

"Creole jambalaya originates from the French Quarter of New Orleans, in the original European sector. It was an attempt by the Spanish to make paella in the New World, where saffron was not readily available due to import costs. Tomatoes became the substitute for saffron." ~Wikipedia

Traditional New Orleans jambalaya is made with savory spices, shrimp, chicken, and spicy sausage. The smell alone makes one's mouth salivate! And I got to thinking, why can't vegetarians and vegans enjoy this savory, take-me-back-home jambalaya, too?

This recipe is delicious, hearty, savory, and a jazzy piece of home-cooking goodness...all the while completely vegetarian- and vegan- approved! And because it's a traditional jambalaya (just with meat substitutes), it's gotta be cooked just right, taking your time and letting all those mouth-watering flavors blend together to utter perfection. If you eat meat, feel free to add in the traditional flare (chicken, shrimp, and/or sausage). :)

Turn on your favorite dixieland (traditional jazz), funk, rhythm and blues, or rock and roll, and let's get started...

Step 1: What You'll Need

Picture of What You'll Need

Author's Note: Don't be intimidated by the "long" list of ingredients...quite a few of them are duplicates. ;)

This Jambalaya may not be one you can make during a rushed and busy week, but it sure will be the talk of the town for a special occasion, party, holiday, or even just a treat for the slower-paced weekend. Serves: 4.


"Chicken":

2 pounds extra firm tofu

6 Tablespoons chicken seasoning* (see below)

1 3/4 cup water

1/4 cup olive oil

*"Chicken" Seasoning:

4 cups nutritional yeast

3/4 cup granulated onion (or 1/2-2/3 cup onion powder)

1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons sea salt

1/2 cup Pizza Seasoning** (see below a recipe if you can't find "Pizza Seasoning" in your local store)

1/4 cup sucanat (or granulated raw cane sugar)

3 Tablespoons granulated garlic (or 2-2.5 Tablespoons garlic powder)

1/4 cups parsley flakes

NOTE: This makes way more then needed for this recipe, but keeps wonderfully in a sealed container at room temperature. You can definitely cut this "Chicken" Seasoning recipe in half or in fourths to make just "some" for this recipe.

** Pizza Seasoning: 4 Tablespoons oregano, 2 Tablespoons dried basil, 1 Tablespoon onion flakes (or 3/4 of a Tablespoon of onion powder), 1 Tablespoon garlic powder, 1 Tablespoon dried thyme, 1 Tablespoon dried fennel (or omit), 1 Tablespoon paprika, 1 Tablespoon black pepper (coarsely ground), 1 Tablespoon dried lemon zest (or omit).

Jambalaya:

2 Tablespoons butter (vegan) or margarine

1/2 pound of spicy vegetarian sausage, sliced (I used Yves brand)

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced (or 3/8 teaspoon garlic powder)

1 stalk celery, diced

1 cup white rice

1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 ounces)

2 Tablespoons creole*** (see recipe below)

1-2 teaspoons hot sauce--I'm using my favorite, Louisiana Hot Sauce ;)

1 teaspoon vegetarian (anchovy-free) Worcestershire sauce, or soy sauce (for this recipe I used Bragg's Soy Sauce)

2 cups vegetable broth

2 bay leaves

3/4 teaspoon sea salt

4 green onions / scallions, sliced (for topping)

***Home-made Creole Seasoning:

2 teaspoons garlic powder

2 teaspoons onion powder

2 teaspoons paprika

1 1/2 teaspoons thyme

1 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon basil

1 teaspoon cayenne

3/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Step 2: Prepare the "Chicken" Ahead of Time

Picture of Prepare the "Chicken" Ahead of Time

To get the proper "chicken" texture, you will need to cook this and then chill it in the fridge overnight (or for 8 hours). So you could make this in the morning (about 8 AM), then finish the jambalaya in the evening for dinner.Or, if you don't want to wait that long, see the "Note" below**...

1. Cut the tofu into bite-size pieces. Spread it evenly into a sprayed 9 x 13 glass baking dish.

2. In a blender, combine the water, olive oil, and chicken seasoning*. Blend for 30 seconds.

3. Pour the mixture over the tofu.

4. Bake UNCOVERED for 1 hour at 350 degrees, or until all the moisture is absorbed by the tofu. (The tofu should be firmer, but not hard.)

**NOTE: If you like the tofu texture as-is after cooking (which is still much better then it's original texture), then use it in your recipe now. If you want to get the full "chicken" texture effect, cover it in a container and refrigerate it overnight, or at least for 8 hours. Then reheat to use.

Makes: 4 1/2 to 5 cups of "chicken" pieces.


*To make the "chicken" seasoning, simply mix all the ingredients together in a bowl with a whisk or spoon. Keep the leftovers in a sealed container (it will keep for a long time).

Step 3: Make the Jambalaya

Picture of Make the Jambalaya

1. Prepare your creole seasoning by blending all the ingredients in a coffee grinder (or a spice grinder) until you get a fine powder.

2. Use half the creole seasoning called for to cover half the "chicken" you made from the previous step. (Keep the other half of the "chicken" for another recipe, or make twice the jambalaya and use it all!)

3. In a large skillet over Medium-High heat, melt the butter.

4. Once melted, saute the vegetarian sausage slices until they just begin to brown (about 2-3 minutes).

5. Add in the onion, garlic, bell pepper, and celery, and cook for 4 minutes more, stirring continuously.

6. Stir in the dry rice, tomatoes, and remaining half of the creole seasoning.

7. Add in your vegetable broth, hot sauce, vegetarian Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce, salt and pepper, and bay leaves.

8. Stir to combine, and bring to a boil.

9. Reduce the heat to Medium-Low. Cover and simmer 25 minutes (or until the rice is cooked through), stirring only halfway through.

Step 4: Enjoy All Your Hard Work!

Picture of Enjoy All Your Hard Work!

Now it's time to feast on all the day's work you've accomplished! Take it easy, slow it down, and enjoy every savory bite! Freeze any leftovers for another meal (or make double the batch to have some to freeze).

To Serve:

  • Remove the bay leaves from the pot.
  • Plate the jambalaya, and top with the creole-crusted "chicken."
  • Sprinkle with sliced green onions/scallions.
  • OPTIONAL: You can add more creole, salt/pepper, or hot sauce to taste.

ENJOY! :)

Step 5: References

Every "traditional" recipe originated somewhere. I blended some recipes from my favorite chefs, as well as incorporated my own ideas to create this epic jambalaya! Here are the references I used:

www.iloveveggies.info/?page_id=544

www.daringgourmet.com/2014/02/14/jambalaya

http://www.food.com/recipe/pizza-seasoning-468820

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