Meatless Friday: Red Beans and Rice


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In Louisiana, especially in New Orleans, red beans and rice is the traditional Monday lunch special, served with spicy pork sausage and thickened with—what else?—a good, dark roux. I use a trick I learned from my Cajun grandmother to thicken without a roux, thus eliminating the fat calories from the butter, and I’ve tweaked the recipe to give you a genuine Louisiana experience without the meat.*

"Meatless Friday: Red Beans and Rice" by Karen Ullo (

Copyright 2017 Karen Ullo. All rights reserved.

Red Beans and Rice

1 lb. dry red beans
1 qt. vegetable broth
1 tbs. (or more) creole seasoning**
1 tbs. dry parsley
4 bay leaves
2 cups dry rice, prepared according to package
2 tbs. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2 tbs. all purpose flour
Tabasco sauce to taste

The night before:

Put the red beans in a large bowl filled with water to soak.

In the morning:

Drain the beans. Put them in a slow cooker with the broth, creole seasoning, parsley, and bay leaves. If you’re leaving for an 8-hour work day, set it on low. If you do this later in the morning, put it on high for 2-3 hours, then reduce to low.

In the evening:

Prepare your rice. I am usually lazy and use the boil-in-bag kind.

Put the olive oil in a large sauté pan and heat. Add the chopped onion and bell pepper. Sauté about 10 minutes, until the vegetables just begin to caramelize. Add the flour to the pan. Stir and continue to sauté another minute or two, allowing the flour to turn slightly brown. Add the vegetable mixture to your beans. Let it continue to cook another 30 to 60 minutes in the slow cooker. Serve over a bed of rice. Add Tabasco sauce to the finished product, if desired, or sprinkle with more Creole seasoning.

*If you’re making this on a day other than Friday, you can substitute chicken or beef broth and/or add your favorite sausage. Slice it, brown it, and mix it in just before serving.

**Creole seasoning is widely available in many commercial brands, but if you can’t find it, or if you’re an overachiever who likes to make things from scratch, I’ve included my grandmother’s seasoning recipe below. It’s a whole lot better than any of the commercial brands, and it goes well on everything. Trust me. Your life as you’ve tasted it will never be the same.

Eileen’s Creole Seasoning:

2 tbs. salt
1 tbs. ground red pepper
1 tbs. chili powder
1 tbs. garlic powder
1 tsp. black pepper

Place all ingredients in an empty spice bottle and shake to combine.

"Meatless Friday: Red Beans and Rice" by Karen Ullo (

Copyright 2017 Karen Ullo. All rights reserved.

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Copyright 2017 Karen Ullo


About Author

Karen Ullo is the author of two novels, Jennifer the Damned (2015) and Cinder Allia (2017). She is also the managing editor of the Catholic literary journal Dappled Things, as well as a wife and mother of two. Find out more at

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