Bam! Jambalaya Goes Veg

It’s the crisper’s fault. I want to eat healthy, veggie-filled meals. But contrary to its name, my refrigerator drawer only offers up squishy greens. I mean, they’re probably safe, but they might kill me, and who wants that drama on a Sunday night?

Imagine my relief to discover Cajun cuisine – an entire genre dedicated to transforming the inedible (crocodile, crawfish, okra) into dinner. And it’s effortless. My slacker jambalaya recipe goes something like this: Saute all the wilted vegetables I can find, add a can of veggie broth, serve over rice. Bam! I’ve channeled my inner-Emeril and cleaned out the fridge.

If Slacker Jambalaya is good, what would Over-Achieving Jambalaya taste like? I decided to find out. Spoiler alert: It’s pretty amazing.

First, I made homemade vegetable broth. Do NOT roll your eyes. Homemade broth is a billion times tastier than the canned stuff. If you can chop vegetables into small pieces to better extract the yumminess, you can make your own broth. And if you double the recipe, you can freeze the extra in useful 8-ounce portions.

Second, I added a cup of dark beer. Not only is it an excuse to drink while you cook, but dark beer gives vegetarian jambalaya the hearty umami taste normally associated with meat.

Which brings me to my third tip for jambalaya awesomeness: Use Match meat. I know, I know, I swore I would never use meat substitutes. But I also swore I would never wear comfortable shoes, and look where I am now (pampering my feet, that’s where). At some point you have to put on the granny panties and admit that there’s a time and a place for everything, including soy sausage. The Match Italian sausage is no andouille, but it comes decently close. And I’m going to eat my words, right after I saute the contents of my crisper.