Jambalaya Juggle

There are certain things about Sunday Suppers that are always a juggle: the kitchen arrangements, for starters.  It’s an open plan space and a large proportion of the space is occupied by the stove and other appliances.  Working surfaces are limited, so I have to be super organised.  To begin with, there was a lot of juggling which, with practise and better organisation, has become a lot easier.  Like ensuring I’ve got all the bits out and don’t have to go thundering around the house to fish out dessert dishes or ice bowls or…  It doesn’t really matter as long as I’m not having to make like a duck diving for food in a pond when our guests are enjoying supper.

Different seasons also present juggles of a different kind.  Each week’s menu needs to suit both carnivores and vegetarians which, somehow, in summer is easier to do.  Not that I am complaining.  I enjoy the challenge and I enjoy discovering dishes that are sufficiently versatile that they can accommodate a range of dietary requirement.  One of these is the humble jambalaya.

A couple of years ago, I had a short stint doing streetfood type suppers for a friend of mine who has a little wine bar in the village.  When winter approached, the type of fare had to shift from a boerwors roll (a type of hot dog) to something that might be a little more substantial and which would stay hot.  Anyhow, for various reasons I canned the idea of stir fry (I don’t have the equipment and when the wind howls – as it does – the gas flame just blows out).  Similarly, paella and risotto went the same way, but for different reasons, but my research – which was focused on the vegetarians – threw up a Jambalaya recipe.

I had only ever heard or read about Jambalaya in novels set in Louisianna or New Orleans.  The word had certain appeal.  And I liked the basic ingredients – onions, peppers, butternut squash – and, of course herbs and spices including chilli.  I had found a one-size-would-fit-all dish:  with the addition of slices of chorizo or similar some cooked chicken or shrimp, I had found the solution.

Suffice it to say that that first attempt was a hit.  I came home without as much as a grain of rice.  I have since looked a little more into the origin of the dish and, like the bredie I wrote about a while ago, it’s a great exaple of the fusion of foods from different cultures, and reflecting the history of Louisiana:

Jambalaya has its origins in several rice-based dishes well attested in the Mediterranean cuisines of Spain, West Africa and France, especially in the Spanish dish paella (native to Valencia), West African dish jollof and the French dish known as jambalaia (native to Provence). Other seasoned rice-based dishes from other cuisines include pilafrisotto and Hoppin’ John. (Source)

I have, since making that the first time, made some adjustments, some necessitated by my own preferences and others simply because of what may (or may not be available).  One of the key changes is to replace the herbs with McGregor Herbes de Provence and to roast the butternut and either add it later and/or to use it as a garnish.  A third change, for vegetarians, has been to add either chickpeas (plain or spiced – recipe to follow in time) or lentils.

So, without further ado, here is my basic jambalaya:

Basic, slow cooked Jambalaya

meat or vegetarian proteins added later

Serves 8

This Jambalaya can be the base for either a meat or a vegetarian meal. The quantities are such that the basic dish, once prepared can be split into two quantities making it easy to do both meat and vegan meals at the same time.  It’s also done in a slow cooker which is not just easy, but really encourages great flavour development.


1 tablespoon olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
4 sweet bell peppers (all colours, chopped)
1 chilli (de-seeded if you don’t like heat) and chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
½ bunch soup celery, finely chopped
1 tin peeled, chopped tomatoes or 2 – 3 fresh tomatoes, skinned and chopped
1 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 – 2 fresh or dried chillies, chopped
2 cups rice
2 cups vegetable stock
25g (sachet) tomato puree
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp McGregor Herbes de Provence
½ tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

For vegans

1 tin of lentils or chickpeas or other spicy vegan substitute

For carnivores

1 large chorizo sausage and/or left-over bits cooked chicken or frozen mixed seafood

What to do

  1. In a large pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions, peppers, and celery to oil.
  2. Cook onions until they begin to soften, about three minutes then add in garlic, chilli and tomatoes. Continue to cook for 2-3 more minutes
  3. Add the Worcestershire sauce and rice. Cook rice in mixture for 1-2 minutes before adding liquids.
  4. Finally, add remaining ingredients.
  5. Once combined, pour into the slow cooker and set to low.
  6. Do not disturb for 3 – 4 hours, but watch the liquid. Once it’s all been absorbed, open the lid and stir.  If the rice is not cooked, add more liquid and replace the lid and allow to cook until the rice is soft.
  7. At this point, add your choice of additional ingredients, replace the lid and allow these to cook/heat through.

Serving suggestion

Serve with roasted vegetables like butternut, cauliflower and broccoli o r a side salad to make a hearty, complete meal.

Download a PDF version of the recipe here.

Post script

This is my second contribution to @quorator’s #tastytuesday series.  https://steemit.com/qurator/@qurator/qurator-s-tasty-tuesday-85

Until next time
The Sandbag House
McGregor, South Africa

Photo: Selma

Post Script

  • I blog on two platforms:  WordPress and Instagram, and the former auto posts to Steemit.  Instagram is a mostly visual platform where I post microblogs about fluff:  usually food and the cats; posts that sometimes promise hint about future WordPress posts.
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