On TV: New Orleans-style Red Beans and Rice

This morning I demonstrated how to cook a healthy and budget-friendly version of New Orleans-style Red Beans and Rice on WCNC’s Charlotte Today show.  It was an exercise in resistance.  Typically my preparation of red beans and rice involves some serious cooking using an obscene amount of bacon and andouille sausage.  Today’s recipe involved a shorter cooking time and the substitution of turkey sausage for the pork.  Surprisingly, it was just as delicious.

For those of you who choose to watch the video you’re in for a few laughs.  Paul Schadt hosts a morning show for a country radio station here in Charlotte.  This week he is a guest host on Charlotte Today.  Paul seems like a great guy, but he’s not an adventurous eater.  Imagine my surprise when I realized that he had never tried beans or sausage before!

While I wasn’t able to convert him into a bean aficionado (he did like the sausage), I’m hoping that you’ll be tempted to try this recipe or at least put a little more bean in your diet.

Beans are one of my favorite convenience foods.   Canned beans need a quick rinse to cut the sodium by about half and then they are ready to be used.

Dried beans demand a little more time.  Prior to using, dried beans should be sorted.  Broken or shriveled beans as well as any small pebbles should be discarded.  The beans that pass inspection should then be rinsed.

For those who have an orderly existence, you’ll probably find yourself soaking the beans overnight in water (I like to use a 2:1 ratio of water to beans).  For the more impulsive sort, you’ll like the quick-soak method.   Simply cover the beans with 2-inches of cold water and bring to a boil.  Boil for two minutes then remove the saucepan from the heat, cover the saucepan, and let it sit for 1 hour.

Regardless of whether you chose the overnight or quick-soak method, you’ll want to drain the beans from their soaking water.  Use the beans as directed in your recipe, or, if using them plain, place the beans in a large pot and cover the beans with two inches of cold water.  Bring to a simmer and simmer gently until soft.  Note that the older the bean, the longer it takes to soften.  Salt and acids (i.e. tomatoes) can also impede the softening of beans although there remains much debate over whether this is scientific fact or an old wives tale.

For those that think dried beans sound like an awful lot of work, there are some things to consider.  Dried beans are much less expensive than canned beans.   1 lb of dried beans yields about 6 cups of cooked beans.  At my grocery store, the equivalent amount of canned beans would be over 4 times as expensive.   In addition to saving money, you’ll also get a healthier product with far less sodium when you use dried beans.  And finally, cooked dried beans freeze beautifully making them a healthy and convenient food that make a great addition to soups, salads, and, of course, this recipe.   Happy cooking!

Healthy & Budget-Friendly Red Beans & Rice – Printer Friendly Recipe
Serves 6

For the red beans:
6 ounces Andouille or Turkey Sausage, halved and sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 -3 teaspoons salt-free Cajun Seasoning
¾ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 (27-ounce) can dark kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups less sodium chicken broth
Hot sauce (like Tabasco), to taste
3 green onions, white and green parts, thinly sliced

For the rice:
4 cups water
2 cups long grain rice

Add the sausage to a cold sauté pan.  Heat over medium heat until the sausage has rendered some of its fat and is just starting to brown.  Remove the sausage using a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add the red bell pepper, yellow onion, Cajun seasoning, and thyme leaves to the sauté pan.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are just soft.  Add the kidney beans and the chicken broth to the pan.  Bring to a strong simmer and let reduce by half.  Season to taste with the Tabasco sauce.

To make the rice, bring the 4 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan.   Add the long grain rice and cover the pot.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 20 minutes.  Turn off the heat and let the rice sit, covered, for ten minutes.

Serve the red beans over the rice with their broth.  Garnish with the sliced green onions.


  1. Great job Nikki! Never know what is going to happen on live TV. We love read beans and rice at our house so can’t wait to try your recipe.


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