Southern Cookin' Makes You Good Lookin'

Random Rantings about Food and Such

Luigiana Red Beans

on 07/09/2011

Ever get those wild hairs that make you think that if you put this together with that, although they don’t normally mix in the same circles, the results might be positive?  You’re not still stuck on the “wild hairs” part, are you?  Because we could talk about wild hairs, especially if you’re over 40…but i’d rather not.  Let sleeping wild hairs lie …still and wait to be plucked.  Let’s talk food!

When we stopped by the Asian grocery mart last week (sheesh!  only last week?  why have i lived several weeks since then???), besides picking up the cutie-poo pastel tapioca pearls, i also found the cutest little miniature dry red beans.  They’re probably 1/3 of the size of your typical red bean.  HAD to have them and figure out something a little different to do with them.  So i’ve been stewing over it occasionally and an idea started taking shape a couple days ago.  Yesterday, after deciding to definitely try it, the elusive name for this new dish hit me.  Thank you, girls, for the name.  Your playing Super Mario Brothers on Wii did the trick.

What happens when you take a Cajun dish, like Red Beans and Rice, and give it an Italian flavor?  What would happen if the Mario Brothers suddenly invaded the state nestled between Mississippi and Texas?  You’d get LUIGIANA Red Beans and RiceaRoni!  No, seriously!  Here’s what happened….

Took those adorable little beenie-weenies and let them have their necessary bath.  They didn’t plump up too much, still tiny.  Threw them in the crock pot along with some Italian salad dressing, fresh herbs (2 types of oregano, basil and parsley) and water.  Sliced up some Sweet Italian Turkey Sausage into bite-sized chunks,slid them into a pan drizzled with olive oil and let it cook a few minutes.  Added some thinly sliced celery and bell pepper and would have thrown in some onion if i hadn’t used it all two nights ago (added onion powder to the crock pot instead.)  After letting them saute for a few minutes, the entire contents were added to the crock.  This cooked on high for a couple hours before turning down to low heat and continued to cook for a couple more hours before adding the next bit.

Remember Rice-a-Roni, the San Francisco treat?  Yeah, sorry.  Had that jingle stuck in my head for a bit too.  Well, that made more sense than just plain rice for an Italian-Cajun fusion.  Now, i would have used Orzo if i’d had it but i wasn’t going to the store just for that (especially with the soaker we had this afternoon! yeah!)  So i made my own R-a-R with plain rice and by snapping off thumb-width sized sections of Angel Hair pasta.  Easy peasy!

After a quick taste test by 3 of us (Michael gives it a BIG THUMBS UP), it was deemed edible and awaits dinner time.  Still trying to come up with some Cajun-Italian hybrid sayings for it.  Maybe “Chere Mia!  That’s a spicy pot of beans!”  Okay, maybe some things aren’t meant to be combined.  We’ll skip that wild hair and let it curl up and dye.

Luigiana Red Beans and Rice-a-Roni

2–3 cups soaked red beans (dried red beans soaked overnight or by quick method)

3/4 cup Italian salad dressing

2–3 cups water (start with 2 and add extra later, if needed)

Italian herbs or seasoning, to taste

3 Italian sausages, cut into bite-sized slices

1/3 cup each celery, bell pepper, onion

1 cup orzo or 1/2 cup white rice and 1/2 cup Angel Hair pasta, in tiny pieces

Add beans, salad dressing, water and herbs in a crock pot and begin cooking on high.

In a frying pan brown sausages in olive oil .  After five minutes, add celery, bell pepper, and onion.  Continue cooking for a few minutes until vegetables have softened.  Add mixture to crock pot and continue to cook on high for a couple hours before turning down to  low heat.  Simmer for at least a couple more hours.

Thirty minutes before serving, add orzo or rice/pasta mixture and continue to cook on high until liquid becomes mostly absorbed.    Add extra water and salad dressing as needed, for moistness.

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