New Orleans has a special place in my heart. Meat heavy dishes though? Not so much. I have been cooking up some meatless versions of NOLA food for a while now, and this red beans and rice dish is definitely the top of the top. Like, possibly even better than the ones we ate in the deep south. Ok, no, I’m gonna go ahead and say it – these vegan creole red beans ARE better than the real thing. The best part is that it’s mostly hands-off. A few simple ingredients followed by a long simmer on the stove. Absolutely worth the wait.

Traditional Louisiana red beans and rice recipes use sausage, which has a smoky, spice-laced flavour. I am NOT a fan of vegetarian or vegan sausage substitutes, so instead, I recreated the flavour beautifully with a few simple ingredients: smoked paprika, a pinch of anise seed & a little bit of liquid smoke. These few key ingredients elevate the dish from simple to awesome.

Pro prep tip: I always keep a bunch of chopped onion on hand – in my freezer! I cut it into a medium dice and freeze in a large freezer Ziplock style bag, ready for using as needed in any cooked dishes.