Let the Good Times Roll

Aaah, it’s that time of year again. The early spring rains dampen the city. Downtown pulses with energy as The Big 12 basketball conference gets underway. Visions of seedlings and soil and fresh flowers fill up brain space. And the party of all parties is happening right now in a Southern city filled with culture, great music and even greater food.

Two words: Mardi Gras.

Two more words: Fat Tuesday.

Five more words: Laissez les bons temps rouler.

Four more words: Red Beans and Rice.

Three more words: I can’t stop.

Six last words: Oh, I’m just pulling your leg.

To celebrate the occasion and the season in general, I made a very simple vegetarian red beans and rice for dinner tonight. My version of “letting the good times roll” involves a hot shower, a plate of spicy food and The First 48 on Netflix streaming. I love being old.

Cajun-Style Red Beans and Rice:

What it took for 2:

2 cups cooked basmati rice (or any other long grain rice you have on hand)

1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil

½ an onion, finely chopped

1 green bell pepper, finely chopped

2 celery stalks, finely chopped

2 carrots, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

½ cup vegetable stock

3 Tbs. favorite Cajun seasoning

½ tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp. smoked paprika

coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

couple glugs of Louisiana hot sauce

In a medium saucepan, bring the oil to a medium-high heat. Add the onions, bell pepper, celery, carrots and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes, softening the veggies. Add the Cajun seasoning, cayenne and paprika. Let the spices bloom with the vegetables a minute or so. Throw in a pinch of salt and pepper. Add the beans and stock. Simmer 10 to 15 minutes, letting the beans fall in love with the flavor. Taste it and adjust the seasonings.

Serve with rice and garnish with fresh cilantro. Drizzle with hot sauce. Yay for Fat Tuesday!

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