This vegan jambalaya is more like a paella or Spanish rice than a traditional jambalaya. It uses tofu that has been frozen, giving it a great chewy texture.
I’m going to be away from the computer for a few days, but before I go, I’d like to share with you a couple of recipes from my native state, Louisiana.
First up is a somewhat non-traditional jambalaya, based on a recipe for Chicken Jambalaya that I used to love in my omnivore days. It came from a book called River Road Recipes, one of those collections of recipes of the type you can find in most states, put out by the Women’s Auxiliary or the Junior League or whatever. It’s food the way people actually cook at home rather than how some fancy chef does it, so many of the recipes are easy and use short-cuts that save time. And they’re tested on family and friends, so they’re good. Like this one.
This vegan jambalaya is more like a paella or Spanish rice than a traditional jambalaya, but I’ve been cooking it for years and everyone who tries it loves it. It uses tofu that has been frozen and thawed, giving it a spongy texture that absorbs the seasonings and makes it chewy.
To work right, the tofu needs to be frozen for at least 24 hours. The simplest way to to do this is to slice it into 1/2-inch slices, put them into a freezer bag, and freeze. When it’s time to cook, either defrost them in the fridge for a few hours or in the microwave. Squeeze them gently to remove all water and them cut them into cubes.
If waiting for tofu to freeze and thaw would take too long, feel free to substitute another “chickenish” meat substitute. I’ve used both soy curls (about 2 cups, measured dry and then rehydrated) and Quorn’s new vegan chicken tenders (1 package, cooked). The soy curls probably taste the best, but the tofu comes in a close second.
This vegan jambalaya is perfect for your next Mardi Gras party. If you’re looking for more Cajun or Creole dishes, you can find all of my Louisiana recipes here.
- 1 lb extra-firm tofu frozen and defrosted
- 1 large onion chopped
- 1 bell pepper any color, chopped
- 2 ribs celery chopped
- 3 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 cup uncooked white rice or parboiled brown rice see note below
- 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes (Or two 14.5 ounce cans diced tomatoes, fire-roasted Preferred)
- 1/2 cup tomato juice or water
- 2 1/2 teaspoon mild chili powder (may use part chipotle chili powder)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon Liquid Smoke seasoning optional
- red (cayenne) and black pepper to taste
- Prepare the tofu by gently squeezing out the excess water and cutting it into 1/2-inch cubes. Set aside.
- Over medium-high heat, sauté onion, bell pepper, and celery until soft. Add rice and garlic and cook, stirring, until it browns slightly. Add tomatoes, water, chili powder and other seasonings, and stir. (It’s the cayenne pepper that makes this spicy, so be sure to add plenty!) Gently stir in tofu, cover tightly and put on low heat.
- Cook for 30 minutes or until rice is done and liquid is absorbed.
Nutritional info is approximate.
Please pin and share!
SusanVAugust 1, 2009 at 12:15 pm
Here are the comments that were posted before the blog was moved to WordPress:
Looks awesome. I actually tried something similar using brown rice and it took forever to cook. I think you’re right that white rice is the way to go for this.
8:50 PM, March 12, 2006
can you tell me how you freeze your tofu? I’ve heard to leave it in the water, not to leave it in the water…Can I just put the un-opened tub in the freezer?
9:29 AM, March 13, 2006
Chris–Thanks! I’ll check that out.
Hi erica–Yes, you can put the unopened tub in the freezer. It works fine that way. You can also take it out and wrap it in freezer wrap. There’s no wrong answer here!
7:28 PM, March 13, 2006
This looks appetizingly lovely!
9:56 AM, March 15, 2006
I have found quinoa to be an excellent substiture for white rice. It cooks in about 20 minutes, and has plenty of fiber and protein. I also like the way it looks when cooked, like tiny translucent pearls.
9:27 AM, April 07, 2006
Hi Susan. Love you site.
I am making this tonight, but one question – is it one cup of rice cooked or uncooked?
4:59 PM, August 16, 2006
Leigh, the rice is uncooked. Hope you enjoy!
5:12 PM, August 16, 2006
Thank you Susan. I am eating it now and it is delish!
I made the mistake of cooking the rice first, but it still tastes great. I guess I just added an extra step.
Also my first experience with freezing tofu. I will be keeping a block in my fridge at all times!
7:01 PM, August 16, 2006
could you tell me what lb and lg means?
3:58 PM, April 28, 2007
Hi Tania, lb = pound and lg = large.
4:02 PM, April 28, 2007
thank you 🙂
and ‘tsp’, what does that means?
i’m trying this recipe tomorrow!
I also don’t know what Liquid Smoke is. Maybe there’s not in Portugal, or I just don’t know the equivalent name in portuguese :\
4:15 PM, April 28, 2007
Tsp means teaspoon. I doubt you have liquid smoke there; if you don’t, just leave it out, or you can find some kind of vegetarian bacon or ham, you could use it to give it the smoky flavor. Good luck!
4:49 PM, April 28, 2007
Oh so good!
I made the creamy scalloped potatoes the other night, and was so impressed I tried another of your recipes. Two for two! This one’s a winner too.
I left out the liquid smoke (didn’t have any) and used vegan meat (sauteed) instead of tofu. I put sliced fresh avocado on top…
…annnnnd another huge pot of food almost completely eaten up. Yummy! Thank you for a lovely and delicious recipe.
10:01 PM, November 15, 2007
What type of rice do you recommend? I always use instant rice but imagine it would be overcooked in this recipe?
6:44 PM, January 10, 2008
I always use long grain white rice. I agree that instant rice would not work in this recipe.
6:47 PM, January 10, 2008
Solitary Dancer said…
Delicious! Made this over the weekend and it’s wonderful. Kind of reminds me of Spanish Rice.
Thanks for all your fabulous recipes
4:30 AM, June 03, 2008
Hi and thanks for this recipe. I just have one quick question before I try it. Is the only liquid we add the 1/2 cup of tomato juice or water before adding the tofu. To me it doesn’t seem like enough water so I wanted to make sure.
9:34 AM, July 27, 2008
You add the entire large (28 ounce) can of tomatoes, including the juice, and that’s all the liquid you need. Hope you enjoy it!
9:55 AM, July 27, 2008
I made this yesterday for dinner, and it was such a hit!
Thanks for a new staple in our diets 🙂
11:53 AM, November 03, 2008
Had this last night – awesome – even non veggie’s in the house liked it..
4:47 PM, February 20, 2009
Kym LSeptember 10, 2009 at 6:54 pm
I actually made this with the brown rice (what I had in the house) and really enjoyed it. I thought it had great flavor.
crack sammichSeptember 20, 2009 at 7:27 pm
I doubled your recipe and used brown rice, so the cooking took about 55 minutes. I used two 14 oz. cans of fire-roasted diced tomatoes, then refilled the two cans with water. That was just enough liquid to cook all the rice.
I know you're not a fan of the meat analogs, but I cut up three morningstar farms grilled chicken patties and some celebration field roast chipotle mexican sausage. It was smoky and spicy and waaay better than Zatarain's out of the box (and much lower sodium).
KayApril 25, 2010 at 4:54 am
With a couple of modifications, this makes a great freezer meal.
I made this with fresh tofu, and didn’t add any rice. Portioned it out and stuck it in the freezer, took some out a few weeks later for work and OH MY it’s just lovely! The tofu had a lovely texture, and amazing flavour.
Thank you for posting this recipe!
brownwithblondehighlightsJune 6, 2010 at 1:31 pm
Susan do you have the nutritional info for this recipe?
SusanVJune 6, 2010 at 1:47 pm
Here it is, based on 6 servings:
Nutrition (per serving): 239 calories, 38 calories from fat, 4.3g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 707.6mg sodium, 196.6mg potassium, 37.8g carbohydrates, 3.6g fiber, 6.8g sugar, 11.7g protein, 4.4 points.
brownwithblondehighlightsJune 6, 2010 at 2:52 pm
Thanks SO much for your quick reply! I’m just writing out the recipe now to try tonight 🙂
SpiritJune 6, 2010 at 4:29 pm
this looks delicious, can you tell me – do you use the whole can of diced tomatoes? Or just the strained pieces? thanks!
SusanVJune 6, 2010 at 4:40 pm
The whole can. The tomato juice in the can provides the moisture to cook the rice.
Hope you enjoy it!
spiritJune 6, 2010 at 4:54 pm
thanks so much for the quick reply, that’s what i figured, but i wanted to double check 🙂
FoodieMay 2, 2011 at 11:10 pm
This recipe is fabulous.
We love it very much.
Thanks for sharing.
Olivia RoseFebruary 17, 2012 at 6:17 pm
Perfect! I will make this with the brown rice even it takes longer. I just can’t bring myself to make white rice when brown has so much more nutritional value. Also, I’m thinking red beans would be a fantastic addition!
Stewart SmithFebruary 20, 2012 at 8:20 pm
Sounds really yummy. I can’t wait to try it. Thank you for the recipe.
StephanieApril 18, 2013 at 8:59 pm
Girl – your blog is just amazing, beautiful, and is the only site that pops the recipe right into my http://www.plantoeat.com menu planner! (Yup, you get the credit on the list, too via your site name). I am in South LA and really appreciate the Cajun recipes.
Pamela VernardoJune 9, 2013 at 8:41 pm
I made this dish and it was very good. I definitely wanted to use brown rice so I cooked my rice until about half done, drained it and added it to the dish exactly as described in the recipe and it came out beautifully.
meredithAugust 8, 2013 at 3:10 pm
I make this quite frequently, it lends well to most modifications, like quinoa or brown rice instead of white, it is always a hit in my family.
Lisa M.January 8, 2019 at 4:37 pm
This is delicious! I love the texture of the tofu, it reminds me a bit of the texture of mock duck. I ended up adding a container of mushrooms. I used brown basmati rice and added 1 1/2 cups of veggie broth then just let it cook until the liquid was absorbed (around 30 minutes, I wasn’t watching the clock).
This recipe is definitely getting added to my favorites book. It’s tasty, easy, and filling!
MaggieApril 3, 2020 at 9:20 pm
This recipe is an oldie-but-a-goodie in the FFV archives!!! I made it tonight with a half-bag of soy curls I found in the back of my pantry. The instructions for brown rice are spot on — I’ve never parboiled brown rice this way, but it totally worked! Under the stay-at-home-order, we miss going out on Friday nights for vegan Jambalaya in Baton Rouge, so this recipe hit the spot. It’s a great recipe for pantry-cooking during the pandemic. Having a bottle of Crystal hot sauce on the table as a condiment made it perfect. 😉