Red Beans and Rice

Serves 4 to 6.

Note: This recipe comes from a college roommate who lives in Virginia and tells me her mother preferred cooking the beans separately and adding them and the tomatoes at the end. It's lighter than the versions that simmer all of the ingredients into a stew. Plan ahead; the beans need to soak overnight. You can make the rice and beans in advance and then finish the dish later. Sausage is optional (and not used in the recipe photo); feel free to use leftover diced ham or pork instead. From Beth Dooley.

For the beans:

• 3/4 lb. dried red beans

• 1 bay leaf

• 1 small onion, peeled

• 1 carrot

• 1 rib celery

To finish the dish:

• 1/2 lb. andouille or smoked sausage, sliced ½-in. thick, optional (see Note)

• 2 tbsp. vegetable oil

• 4 cloves garlic, minced

• 1 small onion, finely chopped

• 1 small red or green bell pepper, seeded and diced

• 1 c. diced fresh or canned tomatoes, drained

• 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

• Generous pinch cayenne

• 1 tsp. salt

• 1 tsp. dried oregano

• 1/2 c. chopped parsley, plus more for garnish

• 1/2 c. chopped fresh green onions

• 2 to 3 c. cooked long grain white or brown rice


To prepare the beans: Put the beans into a medium bowl and add enough water to cover the beans by about 2 to 3 inches. Soak overnight.

Drain the beans, turn into a medium pot, add the bay leaf, onion, carrot and celery. Add enough water to cover the beans by 4 inches and set over high heat to bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, partially cover, and simmer until tender, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

To finish the dish: If using sausage, lightly film a heavy pot with a bit of the oil and brown the sausage until slightly crisp. Add the remaining oil, garlic, onions and pepper and sauté over medium heat until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes along with the black pepper, cayenne, salt and oregano.

Drain the beans, reserving the bean cooking liquid for another use and discarding the onion, carrot and celery. Add the beans to the pot along with the parsley and green onions and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes. If the texture seems dry, add about 1/2 cup of the bean stock to the pot. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then toss in the rice and heat through. Serve garnished with chopped parsley.