This vegetarian red beans and rice recipe is budget-friendly meal with ingredients that are accessible in most supermarkets. Zesty and nutrient-dense, it’s full of veggies, legumes, and Cajun spices.
48.8 million Americans—including 16.2 million children (nearly one in five children in America)—lack the means to get enough nutritious food on a regular basis. They live in food- insecure households and as a result, they struggle with hunger at some time during the year.
A bit about food access and hunger
A sobering truth is that while most people we know are blessed with the ability to eat whatever we want whenever we want, millions of people around us are not. It’s easy to put on the Pinterest-tinted glasses and create a happy world where everyone eats veggie enchiladas and drinks green smoothies — but the truth is, many Americans simply don’t have the resources or access to get to even half of the veggies in a trendy green drink.
Alex and I are thankful to know people who are passionate about combating food access and hunger in our country, and it’s an issue we are naturally interested in as well, as people who care deeply about food and nutrition. So we couldn’t be more pleased to be joining with our inspiring friend Nicole to use today’s post to raise awareness in a campaign called Food Bloggers Against Hunger (and, check out the link to see the 200 other food bloggers that have joined in the effort! So cool.).
Millions of Americans who participate in the nation’s food stamp program are limited to an average of $3 or $4 per person each day to supplement their food budget. And since government subsidies generally focus on products like soy beans, wheat, and corn instead of fresh produce, most affordable food is often the unhealthiest.
Vegetarian red beans and rice
With that in mind, today we’re sharing a budget-friendly meal with ingredients that are easily accessible in most supermarkets. This take on Red Beans and Rice can be made on a budget, for about $4 per person. But even better, it’s very delicious and nutrient-dense: full of veggies, legumes, and Cajun spices that pack a large amount of flavor into some humble ingredients. It also works for various special diets, including dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian.
The ingredients in this vegan red beans and rice recipe are simple: onion, celery, green pepper, tomatoes, and red beans. What makes the zesty flavor is the homemade Cajun spices: cayenne, paprika, oregano, and thyme. And if you can handle the heat, the finishing touch is the hot sauce! We ate our vegetarian red beans and rice with brown rice, but any type of rice will do. If you have a rice cooker or Instant Pot, it’s perfect to throw in the rice while you make the remainder of the recipe.
Related: Cuban Black Beans with Rice
Update: Since writing this post, our vegetarian red beans and rice have become a fan favorite! Let us know if you try them.
Looking for vegan recipes?
This Vegetarian Red Beans and Rice recipe is also vegan! Here are a few of our favorite vegan recipes:
- Tropical Mango Bowls with Citrus Drizzle
- Savory Vegan Pot Pie with Sage Crust
- Chocolate Tahini Vegan No Bake Cookies
- All vegan recipes on A Couple Cooks
This recipe is…
This Vegetarian Red Beans and Rice recipe is vegetarian, gluten free, vegan, plant based, dairy free and naturally sweet.
This vegetarian red beans and rice recipe is a budget-friendly meal with accessible ingredients. Zesty and nutrient dense, it’s full of veggies and Cajun spices.
- 4 cups cooked brown rice (use How to Cook Rice or Instant Pot rice)
- 1 yellow onion
- 4 stalks celery
- 1/2 green pepper
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 2 15-ounce cans red kidney beans (3 cups cooked)
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Black pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley, to garnish
- Hot sauce, to garnish
- Cook the rice according to package instructions.
- Dice the onion and celery. Dice the pepper. Mince the garlic.
- In a large saucepan (or dutch oven), warm the olive oil over medium heat. Sauté the onion, celery, and pepper for 8 to 10 minutes over medium heat until softened. Add the minced garlic and cook for about 2 minutes more; watch the pan to avoid burning the garlic.
- Meanwhile, drain and rinse the red beans. When the vegetables are ready, add the beans, diced tomatoes with their liquid, and vegetable broth. Stir in the cayenne pepper, paprika, oregano, thyme, 2 bay leaves, kosher salt, and a few grinds of pepper.
- Simmer over low heat for 20 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Meanwhile, roughly chop the parsley leaves.
- When simmering is complete, remove the bay leaves and serve the beans over rice. Garnish with chopped parsley and hot sauce.
- Category: Main Dish
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Cajun
Keywords: Red Beans and Rice, Vegetarian, Vegan, Vegan Red Beans and Rice, Vegetarian Red Beans and Rice
About the Authors
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.