New Orleans has its own cuisine shaped by what grows there, but also by the people who live there. Dirty rice is as old as the city itself and was a dish invented in the kitchens of resourceful cooks to avoid waste and turn less desirable ingredients into something amazing. It’s a dish that satisfies the soul and the belly and can pull people through the most difficult times.
New Orleans is in need of good times. This big-hearted city lives and breathes its motto, Let the good times roll. Hurricane Ida has had other ideas, like her sister Hurricane Katrina did 16 years ago.
We can’t control the weather. But we can control our carbon emission, the thing that’s driving this extreme weather. Scientists agree — “Human influence on the climate system is clear. . . emissions of greenhouse gases are the highest in history.”
We can help bring the good times back by moving to a plantbased diet. It’s proven to be 10 to 50 times lighter in environmental impact. This recipe for dirty rice lets you keep all the flavor and spirit of New Orleans without the meat.
We can also help by supporting organizations helping New Orleans now.
In New Orleans, food goes beyond the plate. There are its traditions, how it’s sourced, its romance and history, the powerful associations it evokes. You can’t eat these things and yet they deepen your experience and appreciation of your food. They add their own spice. They make you care.
It is through bowls of gumbo and dirty rice that we see the resilience and ingenuity of the people of New Orleans.
It is because New Orleans has endured such hardship that its people are always ready to let the good times roll, to snatch joy wherever it’s found. Here’s to creating brighter days and better times.
Down and Dirty Rice
- 1-1/2 cup rice white or brown
- 5 cups water or vegetable broth divided use
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 6 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 large onion chopped
- 1 medium eggplant chopped
- 3 ribs celery chopped
- 1 green pepper chopped
- 1 tomato chopped (or 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes)
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 handful fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
- sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 bunch fresh parsley chopped
- 1 cup edamame optional
- Pour 3 cups of water or broth into a large pot. Place over high heat and bring liquid to boil. Add rice and bay leaf and give a quick stir. Cover and reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes (brown rice may need an additional 10 minutes) or until rice is tender and all liquid is absorbed. Remove bay leaf and set aside.
- May be done a day or two ahead and stored well-covered in refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before proceeding.
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chopped garlic, onion and eggplant. Saute, stirring for 5 minutes, or until vegetables soften. Add chopped celery, green pepper, tomato, paprika and thyme. Continue cooking another 5 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in rice and remaining 2 cups of water or broth.
- Reduce heat to medium and cook another 10 minutes until mixture is moist but all liquid is absorbed.
- Stir in salt, pepper, lemon juice and chopped parsley, and for a pop of protein and bright green color, fold in optional edamame.
- Serves 6 to 8. Keeps several days in the fridge, flavor improves over time.