This is a guest post from Mara of the food blog Put on Your Cake Pants. She’s all about eating well while spending less. Check out this delicious recipe – perfect for fall weather!
I spent a fair amount of time watching my parents cook when I was growing up, and one of the things I learned from them was the importance of resourcefulness. Nearly anyone can look at a recipe and put together a shopping list, but making do with what you already have on hand takes flexibility and creativity. Stopping by the store for a couple of ingredients can be tempting, but I find that when I do that, I end up buying things I don’t really need just because I’m already there (and probably hungry, too!).
To avoid going to the store and making impulse purchases, I like to have a few recipes up my sleeve that don’t require planning ahead—recipes that are based on ingredients with a relatively long shelf life, which I’m likely to have in stock at any given time. This easy one-pot jambalaya is one of my favorite “minimal planning” recipes!
Those of you who are familiar with Creole and Cajun cooking know that many dishes, including jambalaya, start with the “holy trinity,” a mixture of onion, celery, and green pepper. I decided to deviate from that slightly (blasphemous, I know!) and use carrots in place of green pepper, since I nearly always have a bag of carrots around and they stay fresh for a long time, whereas bell peppers tend to become wrinkly and soft if I don’t use them within a few days.
While this jambalaya isn’t the most traditional, it is super delicious and satisfying—and if you weren’t already hungry before you started cooking, just wait until you smell the enticing savory aroma as it simmers! The rice cooks in a mixture of chicken broth and canned tomatoes, alongside a medley of dried herbs and spices, all of which ensures that each bite is packed with maximum flavor. And this recipe has a lot going for it, even beyond the taste department.
Not only does it rely on ingredients that you’re likely to have on hand, but it’s also a meal in and of itself (starch, protein, and veggies: check, check, and check!), it only uses one pot (yay for fewer dishes to wash!), and it’s even naturally dairy and gluten free! So the next time you’re rummaging through the fridge, wondering what to make for dinner, and wishing you had planned ahead a bit more, don’t despair: whip up a batch of easy one-pot jambalaya, and your taste buds (and wallet) will thank you!
If you’re looking for more ideas for easy meals, check out some of my other go-to “minimal planning” recipes!
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 12 ounces sausage, sliced (I use Aidells chicken and apple sausage)
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 cup sliced celery
- 1 cup sliced carrots
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 cups white rice, rinsed and drained
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes (including the liquid)
- 16 ounces (2 cups) chicken broth
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 3 bay leaves
- 3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- green onions, sliced (optional)
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a stockpot over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Add the sliced sausage and cook until lightly browned on each side. Once the sausage is done cooking, transfer it to a plate and set aside.
- Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil to the stockpot and heat over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Add the onion, celery, and carrots, and cook until softened, about 7-9 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring to prevent it from sticking.
- Add the rice and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes (including the liquid), chicken broth, and spices, and bring to a boil. Once it boils, reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 25 minutes.
- Turn off the stove. Add the cooked sausage to the stockpot, cover, and let sit for 10 minutes. Fluff the rice before serving. Optional: top with sliced green onions.
- If you are using fully cooked sausage, you may choose to skip step 1 and just add the sausage in step 4. I find that browning the sausage does add a nice smoky flavor, though, so it’s worth the few extra minutes if you have time.
- If you want a spicier jambalaya, increase the cayenne pepper to 1/2 or 3/4 teaspoon.
- If you happen to have a green pepper on hand, feel free to dice it up and add it along with the other vegetables in step 2.
Mara is the author of the food blog Put on Your Cake Pants. Her blog focuses on healthy dishes (with a few indulgences here and there!) based on unfussy yet flavorful ingredients. As a grad student, she has had to figure out how to live on a small budget, but luckily, that doesn’t mean eating ramen every day! In fact, she doesn’t remember the last time she bought ramen. When she’s not making messes in the kitchen (or, you know, grad student-ing), she enjoys running and spending time with her dog, Phoebe. For more great recipes, connect with Mara on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter!