A Lot Like Jambalaya

Image via Melanie Denney

I haven't been grocery shopping in a while, and by a while, I mean a few months, which means our dinner options are limited. But last night, I pulled off something amazing … well, it was impressive for not having much to work with.

My neighbor, who is an amazing gardener, gave me an arm full of gorgeous peppers, a zucchini, and an onion, and as I don't have any fresh vegetables in the house at the moment, I was grateful for something besides canned green beans. As I was contemplating on what to make, I made that food face in the picture. It's either terrifying or hilarious—I'm not sure which, but that's the picture that I have to use because I forgot to take one of what we ate for dinner. That's not the point, though.

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A little creative time sparked a hankering for jambalaya. But I hesitate to call what I made as such, because to my very southern friends, jambalaya is almost sacred. I can see why—it's not often a dish is so good that you still think about it years later. But years later, I'm still thinking about their jambalaya. But I have to admit that they might have been impressed with the one I made with no recipe—just adding whatever I remembered them putting in it and using what I had.

These are the ingredients that I used last night:

2 jalapenos; seeded and chopped
2 banana peppers; seeded and chopped
2 green peppers; seeded and chopped
2 poblano peppers; seeded and chopped
1 large purple onion; chopped
1 large zucchini; chopped
2 cloves garlic; minced
1 small can tomato paste
1 cup chicken stock
2 cups cooked rice (I cooked my rice in chicken stock)
1 sausage (I used a kielbasa); halved length-wise, then halved again
1 ½ tablespoons oil
1 ½ tablespoons Rub from Hell
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
pinch of bay leaves
pinch of parsley
salt & pepper to taste

This is how to put it together:

Throw all of your seeded and chopped veggies into a pot and sauté them in the oil and Rub from Hell on medium heat until they become tender. Add the sausage and let it brown. Add the minced garlic to the mixture and stir until it becomes fragrant. Stir in the rice, parsley, bay, salt, and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and stir often while making the sauce.

To make the sauce, scrape the tomato paste out of its can into a lightly oiled sauce pan. On medium heat, smear it around the bottom of the pan and let it brown a little. While stirring the tomato paste, slowly stir in the chicken broth and add the liquid smoke. Bring to a boil and then pour it into the vegetable, sausage, and rice mixture. Mix it well. Serve it up.

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How does it sound? It was nowhere nearly as delicious as the one I still think about—I don't know their secret—but it was still pretty good.

Do you have a favorite jambalaya recipe?

Just a note: The Rub from Hell is my family's go-to seasoning. You can buy it online, but if you don't have it, you can use a mixture of dry mustard, Chile peppers, onion powder, garlic powder, habanero peppers, and curry.

What do you think?

A Lot Like Jambalaya

Melanie Denney lives in the smallest of towns, with her two little darlings. She has a Bachelor's degree and happily works as a full-time mother and a freelance writer, specializing in sociology and recreation leadership. ... More

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