Veggie Jambalaya

Jambalaya is a delicious southern food that fits my favorite qualification: one pot cooking. I am always trying to reduce the amount of dishes I produce while I cook.  This makes it so easy. All you need is a cutting board, knife, and a large skillet/pot with a lid. Jambalaya is also very easy to make vegetarian by using a lot of veggies, and (you guessed it!) BEANS!  I love this recipe with pinto, kidney or black beans. Just pick your favorite!
– 1 sweet or yellow onion
– 1-2 bell peppers
– 1 poblano or other moderately spicy pepper (optional)
– 2 ribs celery
– 1 cup diced tomatoes (fresh or canned)
– 3 cups broth (or water with bouillon equivalent)
– 1 cup rice (brown or white)
– 1 cup beans (black, pinto, kidney, or red)
– 2 tbsp. paprika
– 1 tsp. ground cumin
– 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
– 1/2 tsp. black pepper
– 1 tsp. salt
– 1 tsp. sweetener (agave nectar, sugar, real maple syrup, honey, whatever.)
– 2 tbsp. cooking oil (I use coconut or canola, not olive since the veggies are cooked at high temps.)
Clean all vegetables and either chop finely by hand or process in a food processor.  Chop/process fresh tomatoes separately if using so that they don’t get too mushy.
Heat cooking oil in skillet until hot but not smoking. Cook all veggies (except tomatoes) in the oil until onions are translucent and all veggies are tender.  Add tomatoes and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
Add all other ingredients and stir well. Cover with a lid, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook until all water is absorbed, usually about 15-20 minutes. Be aware that if using brown rice it may take 25-35 minutes to absorb all of the water.
Once everything is done, stir well and taste.  You may need to adjust the seasonings to your personal taste. Enjoy!
*Optional: sprinkle a little cheddar cheese on top of each individual serving to counteract a little spiciness if it is too much for your taste. This recipe is also great garnished with fresh chopped cilantro*