Saturday, April 14, 2012

Pork Free Red Beans and Quinoa

  My dad grew up in New Orleans. As kids, we were no strangers to delicious spicy wonderful cajun cooking. One of my dad's go-to recipes on rare nights that he cooked was red beans and rice, and I loved it! It's made with all sorts of pig products though; a ham bone, bacon, pork andouille sausage, sometimes a smoked pork chop thrown in for good flavor. It's so good but not the healthiest thing in the world and definitely not Jack friendly. But with quinoa instead of rice and all the great turkey products (including sausages!) hitting the market lately, I thought I'd try to replicate this greasy but delicious dish in a Jack friendly, healthier manner. Though this recipe takes about 3 hours, it's so worth it. This was absolutely a success!

  Just as a side note, though there are all types of turkey sausages available, if you are avoiding pork due to allergies or religious reasons, be sure to read the ingredients fully as a lot of them are still in pork casing. Look for artificial casing or just use ground sausage.

Pork Free Red Beans and Quinoa

1 lb red kidney beans, rinsed and picked over
1/2 large yellow or white onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 slices of turkey bacon, cut into pieces
2 cloves minced garlic
2 bay leaves
1+ Tbl Penzey's cajun seasoning (or your favorite cajun seasoning)
1 lb turkey smoked sausage (such as Oscar Mayer)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup cooked quinoa per person
Tabasco (optional)
cocktail onions (a must for me, but not everyone's cup of tea)

In a large stock pot, cover beans with 3 inches of water. Bring to a boil, allow to boil for 5 minutes and then turn off the heat and let sit for 1 hour. Add onion, bell peppers, garlic, bacon, and bay leaves plus a good pinch of salt, pepper, and 1 Tbl cajun seasoning and return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until beans are soft, about 1.5-2 hours.
Cut the sausage into rings and then cut in half again to make half circles. Add to the pot and continue to simmer about 20 mins. Add Tabasco and adjust seasoning, if needed.
Remove bay leaves and serve heaping spoonfuls over quinoa. Garnish with cocktail onions and enjoy!!

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