Quick, easy jambalaya

By JeffGraveline

With a mother who is from the South, my house growing up was always full of fresh cooked meals. Grits, biscuits and anything one can think of as “Southern food” was on my plate. One of the best things my mom ever did, though, was introduce me to a tried and true Southern dish that tastes great and can be made on a college student’s budget—jambalaya.

While many think of jambalaya as something that takes all day to make and having a long list of ingredients, some versions are actually quite simple. All that is needed is a box of white rice, a pound of shrimp, one large green pepper, two celery stalks, two 16-ounce cans of tomato sauce and cajun spice. From prep to plate this dish can be ready in about 30 to 40 minutes, depending on how long the rice takes.

Put one tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat in a large pot,.  Then, chop the two celery stalks and one large green pepper into half-inch pieces. Be sure to remove the membrane and seeds from the pepper while cutting it. Add one and a half teaspoons of minced garlic to the pot, along with the chopped celery and pepper. Sauté the vegetables until they are soft to the touch.

Next, add the two cans of tomato sauce to the pot with the vegetables, keeping it all over low to medium heat. As the sauce warms, shell and clean one pound of shrimp. Once the shrimp have been cleaned and shelled, add them to the tomato sauce.

If the sauce boils over, reduce the heat to keep mess to a minimum.

While the sauce is cooking, add cajun seasoning to taste. Cajun seasoning can be found in the spices aisle at any grocery store. I like to add either chili powder or red pepper flakes to add a touch of heat.

Stir the mixture of vegetables, spices and shrimp together until thoroughly combined. The sauce is done once the shrimp are pinkish in color, which should take about 15 minutes.

As the sauce cooks, begin making the rice. As cooking time varies on what type of rice is used, it’s best to simply follow the directions on the box.

Once the rice is done, turn off the heat to both pots and begin serving. Take a plate and place one or two scoops of rice in the center.

Top the rice with two spoons of the shrimp and vegetable sauce mixture and enjoy.