Jambalaya should be everyone’s go-to comfort food. Hear me out: it’s quick, easy, not unhealthy, and pretty impressive to people who have never had it before. This sausage and rice dish is relatively cheap to make (especially if you don’t add shrimp, which I usually don’t), and the flavors meld together over its short cooking time to create a perfect blend of smoky, sweet flavor. Jambalaya might not be very photogenic, but it’s mighty tasty.
In case you’ve never had it before, you should know that jambalaya is a Southern staple, especially around Louisiana. There are all different kinds of recipes, and even vendettas over whether your recipe uses tomatoes or not. Plenty of people steeped in Southern culture who would scoff at my quick version. But then they would taste it, and say, “That’s pretty good. I want more of that.”
Note: when you’re at the store, you may be tempted to grab Zatarain’s Jambalaya mix. Don’t do it. I like the Red Beans and Rice mix so much better for this recipe, and I think you will too.
1 box Zatarain’s Red Beans and Rice mix
1 lb smoked sausage, chopped
1 lb shrimp (optional; make sure tails have been removed)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cans diced tomatoes (1 drained)
1/4 cup brown sugar
Creole seasoning (found in just about any store, or you can make your own)
Cook the rice according to package instructions.
While the rice is cooking, saute the onion in olive oil until transparent. Add the sausage (and shrimp, if using), and saute until cooked through. Add the garlic, diced tomatoes, and brown sugar.
Finally, add Creole seasoning and Tabasco sauce to taste. Turn down the heat to low, and allow the flavors to mix together while the rice finishes cooking.
When the rice is done, combine the sausage mixture and the rice. Serve warm. If you like it spicy, serve with lots to drink!