Big Flavors from the Big Easy

One of my most favorite cities is New Orleans.  I’ve been there twice and have had two very different experiences.  My first trip was in January, I think 2007 (I’m not sure), it was right before Mardi Gras and not too long after Katrina.  I remember a lot of this trip, but the food really stands out for me.  I mean don’t get me wrong, we partied down Bourbon Street, I believe there was a mechanical bull involved, maybe some dancing, maybe some beads (but not in the way you think, I’m not that kind of girl) and a whole lot of hurricanes, and I’m not talking about the weather.   Oh and I can’t forget to mention the  helicopter ride through the 9th Ward Sheriff Leo invited me on, it was very overwhelming to see all the devastation from Katrina, things that were once there just gone forever and so many people displaced…so very sad.  But even in the short amount of time between Katrina and my trip, the city was trying bounce back as fast as it could.  Other than the partying that ensued, I did over indulge on the deliciously rich food that New Orleans had to offer.  I probably ate my weight in gumbo, crawfish, fried and fresh oysters and jambalaya, so worth it though.

My second trip to NOLA was later that year in August, it was so hot! I stayed at the Hotel Monteleone in the French Quarter, yes it’s fancy, yes it’s beautiful and yes it’s haunted.  I was there for 4 days, I don’t think I slept a bit because I was afraid of seeing a ghost.  My last day there, as I was leaving the hotel, I was told that ghosts have only been seen on certain floors and my floor was not one of them…figures.  I still had a great time doing the more touristy things.  I think I went to Bourbon Street once and it was for dinner (the best BBQ Shrimp, I’ve ever had).  The best though was my visit to Cafe Du Monde, oh my goodness, I could eat beignets everyday, all day.  I’ve tried to make my own, but it’s not the same.  

I promise this whole New Orleans talk is going somewhere.  I was looking through recipes I’ve cut from magazines and found a recipe for” Not-So-Dirty Rice”.   I’m not sure what magazine it came out of, probably a health or fitness one since it’s a vegan recipe.   I did add meat to this, but it’s probably just as delish with the veggie burger crumbles (I use those when I make stuffed cabbage rolls).  So here’s the recipe:

Not-So-Dirty Rice (from Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson)


1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 small green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped (I used a red pepper)

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups vegetarian burger crumbles (I used 1 lb. of ground chicken)

1 tsp. Tabasco Sauce (I used a couple of dashes of Crystal Hot Sauce)

1 tsp. dried thyme

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

3 cups of cooked long grain white rice (I used brown rice)


Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion and bell pepper, cover and cook until softened, about five minutes. (I added the ground chicken at this stage because unlike the crumbles, it needs to cook through).  Stir in the garlic, veggie crumbles, if you use them) Tabasco, thyme, salt and cayenne and cook 5 minutes.

Stir in rice and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes.  Taste and adjust seasonings, I added a bit more hot sauce.   Enjoy! 

I do realize this is not your traditional Dirty Rice recipe, there isn’t any chicken livers, though I’m sure if you wanted to add them you could, I don’t roll that way.   I decided to go a more healthy route and it came out great. 

Verdict: It was spicy but not too spicy. The brown rice really added a nice texture. Eric was going to eat more than the 2 servings he had, but I told him I was taking the leftovers to work. I have a feeling this dish just gets more awesome the longer it sits.  Plus, this is a great recipe to play with, I think the next time I make this I’ll make some minor adjustments, maybe add some celery and some green onions, I don’t know, I may go crazy and add bacon fat to it (probably not, but you can’t ever go wrong with bacon)

Before I forget, the cake batter brownies from last night were pretty amazing, so amazing that while I was writing about them Eric ate half of them.  So if you need a fast and easy dessert, check out Girl Meets Life’s blog.   In the meantime,  Laissez les bons temps rouler!


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