Red beans and rice 2 ways, slow-cooked in a dutch oven is a spicy, flavorful, classic Cajun dish with tender beans and a rich vegetable base. Make it 2 ways by adding a favorite meat protein toward the end! It'll take you right to Louisiana.
Beans are one of my favorite starting points for a meal, and they are never better than with savory herbs and spices. You wouldn't be here if you didn't think so too!
What is a 2-ways meal?
My 2-ways recipes are designed to solve the dilemma of how to feed both vegans and carnivores at the same table, while not sacrificing any flavor or making for a lot of extra dishes! And of course all recipes on this blog (except for one*) are gluten-and-dairy-free as well.
Bean soups and stews, as well as curries, lend themselves beautifully to 2-ways meals. In each case the basic dish is a vegan meal in its own right and then a meat of choice is added.
Why small red beans?
I started making red beans and rice with small red beans when I was in grad school and had hardly any money. I had a friend from Baton Rouge and that’s what she used. Her recipe was spicy -- oh man, how it would make your eyes water! But we'd just drink lots of water and eat more rice. I know that she sometimes used red kidney beans, though she thought the smaller red beans took up the flavor better.
Any other tips for cooking beans?
When cooking a dish with beans, it’s always best to leave the salt out until the end. Salt can thicken the skins of the beans. That’s why I like making my own Cajun seasoning, which I can then make either low- or no-salt.
I soak my beans! I just like them better when I do, even though I’ve gotten away once or twice with a very short soak since having an Instant Pot for cooking them. If you can soak them overnight before cooking them, you’ll find they take up the flavors better once they are in your soup or stew.
What are the options for the added meat?
Andouille sausage adds a lot of flavor to the dish and I’ve seen it mentioned in lots of recipes. Andouille can be made with either chicken or pork, in case you have non-eaters of pork.
Tip: Don’t add sausage to a recipe until the end, even if it isn’t a 2 ways recipe, though, because sausage can get tough over long simmering.
A ham hock would add great flavor too, and you’d add that when you add your broth. The advantage of using a ham hock is that you’d be making bone broth while you were simmering for flavor.
This 2-ways recipe contains ground beef because I happened to have some left from meal prepping. And it’s a very simple and inexpensive option, even if you use grass-fed ground beef, which we always do. Just know that it has little flavor of its own, and note that I seasoned it accordingly.
As always, if you make this recipe, please leave a comment so that I know how it went!
Other spicy and 2 ways dishes on A Meal In Mind
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Red Beans and Rice 2 ways - Gluten and dairy free
- 1 cup red beans soaked and cooked in Instant Pot to make 3 cups cooked, see note; or use 2 13.5-ounce cans of red beans, drained
- ½ pound grass-fed ground beef broken up and cooked with ½ teaspoon Cajun Seasoning and ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium sweet onion diced
- 1 green bell pepper diced
- 2 celery ribs diced
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 4 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 ½ teaspoons homemade Cajun seasoning low or no salt
- 2-3 cups vegetable for 2-ways or chicken stock, see note
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce of choice
- 1 bay leaf
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Cooked rice
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish
- Cook red beans in Instant Pot, check the tenderness and reserve. They will cook very little more during simmering, so it's best if they are done to your taste in this step.
- Heat olive oil in heavy pot or Dutch oven.
- Add onion, bell pepper and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are tender and bell peppers are becoming less green, about 5-6 minutes.
- Stir in garlic and cook for about 1 minute.
- Stir in Cajun seasoning until fragrant and the vegetables are coated, about 1 minute.
- Mix in the tomato paste until it coats the vegetables.
- Stir in stock, red beans, hot sauce, and bay leaf; Bring to a boil.
- Tip: Usually I start cooking my rice at about this point.
- Turn the heat to a simmer, cover the Dutch oven and simmer for 15 minutes. Uncover; continue to simmer until reduced, an additional 15 minutes. If the slow-cook setting seems not to be reducing the liquid enough, use the saute setting instead. When it’s on saute, be sure to stir every 15 minutes or so to prevent sticking.
- Using a wooden spoon, mash beans until slightly thickened, if desired; season with salt, pepper and more hot sauce, to taste. Or if you have low-salt eaters as I do, place those items on the table.
- Stir your cooked beef into one section of the bean mixture. I actually divide the half pound into two bowls and spoon the red beans on top, then stir.
- Serve immediately over rice and garnished with parsley.
The recipe looks so good, I don't eat spicy things very much or cook very much either but looks like something I would try if I did.
I know beans are very good for you.
Janice, I wouldn't cook much either if I didn't make meals for my family. They like their food much spicier than I do, which is why this recipe works so well for all of us. I can make it mild for me and spicy for them. But for a small number of people, it would certainly make more than you could eat in a couple of days. That said, I often eat a meal like this for breakfast!
I looooove red beans and rice. It is my absolute FAVORITE thing. Thank you for sharing this recipe. I will definitely be adding it into the rotation!
Melissa, me too - it's just so tasty and satisfying. Glad to hear we share a love for the dish! Thanks for the great rating, too!
Yummy! I like beans. I many times search the internet for side dishes and this one I am going to add to the list! I will maybe have to exclude the rice because my husband doesn't eat it 😂
Leana, in Louisiana, where the dish came from, I never saw it without rice. But this makes a great meal or side, and it is as good without the rice as with it. I will tell you that I often have the leftovers for breakfast and don't have it with any grain!
Beans are a staple in my diet as a diabetic, Beth. I often make beans-veg-gravy to eat with rice or roti (indian flat bread). So nutritious and filling, too. I am a vegetarian, so no meat for me. But the beans themselves bring the protein. A separate veg dish brings the fiber and the rice brings carb. When we eat roti, that's carb+fiber. All our meals contain a cup of yogurt as well!
I love the visuals in this post. Very appetising. I am so glad I have plenty of leftovers from yesterday's cooking, thanks to the meal prepping. Such a pleasure to visit your space. Thank you!
Vidya, thank you for your kind and generous comment. Yes, I have seem many wonderful recipes for beans on your website, too. I love beans of any kind and find myself cooking them more and more in this two-ways prep so that I can eat vegetarian but provide for my son and his wife who eat meat. Thank you for the comment on the photos and the space!
I've never been a huge fan of beans in any form but I love rice! My favorite is Basmati rice. This recipe just sounds too good not to try, bean-lover or not.
Oh, I'm a fan of rice and love Basmati too, both white and brown. And this has been one of my favorite recipes for so long, I always hope everyone will like it. But I understand that beans are not everyone's favorite!
How delicious! I'd actually not heard of 2-way meals, but what a brilliant way to accommodate different diets 🙌🏻
Anne, thank you for that comment! It took me a while to figure out what to call it, so I hope the name gives some hint of what they are. There are only a couple other websites with similar ideas. And yes, this is a family favorite either "way".