Monday, September 28, 2009

Jambalaya: A super-easy, gluten-free, economical, one-pot wonder

I love to cook. When I was in college, after a stressful day of juggling jobs and school I'd come home and cook, the same way other kids would go out and drink. My roommates used to say they could tell what type of day I'd had just by looking at what was on the stove at 1 a.m. (which is when I got home from work, and settled in to study).

I still love to cook, but now that I'm juggling jobs and a family I have less time -- not to mention way less energy -- than I had when I was in college. And right now, with the economy still tight and my budget even tighter, cooking at home isn't just therapy, it's necessary.

I was at my in-law's last week, which means that I was cooking for six adults and six kids on most nights. (Yes, I do much of the cooking when I'm visiting my in-laws. They're letting our five kids take over their house, the least I can do is make the meals, and invite the rest of the family to dinner.) Here's an easy, one-pot meal I made and shared with my readers at Work It, Mom! -- it's my take on a non-authentic but delicious jambalaya, which my youngest daughter calls "Jumble Lylah." Add a salad and you can have dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes. Best of all for those dealing with food allergies: This recipe is gluten-, casein-, corn-, and nut-free, and infinitely adaptable.

Jumble Lylah

Here's what you'll need:

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

13 ounces Andouille sausage (if you can't find the real deal, Aidells' Cajun Style pork Andouille sausage works well), cut in half the long way and then sliced into half-moons

1 large sweet onion, finely chopped

1 large green bell pepper, cut into bite-size chunks

1 large red bell pepper, cut into bite size chunks

1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes

3 Tablespoons Old Bay seasoning

2 cups chicken broth

3 cups cold water

2 1/2 cups long-grain rice

1 small bunch scallions, finely chopped

Here's what you do:

In a large pot, heat the oil until it starts to shimmer. Add the chopped onions and cook, stirring, until translucent (about 5 minutes). Add the sausage and cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes more. Add the bell peppers, the diced tomatoes and their juices, Old Bay seasoning, and stir to combine. Add the broth and the water, and bring to a boil.

Add the rice, stir, bring to a boil again, then cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook, without opening the cover, for about 20 minutes or until all of the liquid is absorbed. Sprinkle with chopped scallions and serve.

That's it. I served it as a side dish, with hot sauce for the members of my family who have asbestos-lined mouths and can't get enough cayenne. It was gone before I remembered I wanted to take a picture of it for this post.

What's your favorite, easy meal to make for a crowd?

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