“Jambalaya (On The Bayou),” the title of the toe-tapping Hank Williams song, is also the name of the one-pot Louisiana dish that’s hard to stop eating. The recipe, a Cajun spin on Spanish paella, is exactly right for Mardi Gras feasting. Traditionally made with a trio of vegetables—celery, onion and green pepper—jambalaya invites many variations. With tomatoes, it’s called red jambalaya, and without, it’s brown. Rice is always the main ingredient. The word, “jambalaya” comes from jambon, French for “ham” that’s sometimes added to the recipe, and yaya, West African for “rice.” Together they make the bouncy jambalaya that rolled off Williams’s tongue when he sang, “Son of a gun, we’ll have big fun on the bayou.”
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced green bell pepper
1 medium zucchini, diced (1 1/2 cups)
1 cup uncooked brown rice
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cups vegetable broth
3/4 cup water
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp ground red pepper, or to taste
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 lb medium shrimp, peeled and cleaned
Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, bell pepper and zucchini. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion softens and starts to brown, about 10 minutes. Add rice, tomatoes, broth, water, bay leaves, thyme, paprika, red pepper and salt. Stir to combine.
2. Cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer until rice is tender, about 25 minutes. Add shrimp. Cover and cook until shrimp are done, about 5 minutes. Remove bay leaves. Sprinkle with parsley. Serves 4.
Per serving: 318 cal, 8g fat, 14g prot, 46g carbs, 890mg sodium
—Recipe by Jean Kressy, a food writer in Ashburnham, Mass.
Photo by Teresa Blackburn