Vegan jambalaya for Mardi Gras on Meatless Monday

No one's saying you have to go meatless just because it's Monday -- but as incentive to join the growing movement, every week we're offering an animal-free recipe.

The best thing about this jambalaya? You don't have to forgo this recipe during Lent -- or on any other day, because it's always meat-free.

You will need:

One recipe homemade seitan (or one pound store-bought seitan) 6 tablespoons olive oil 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced 1 large onion, diced 2 stalks celery, sliced 4 cloves garlic 3-4 tablespoons tomato paste 4 1/2 cups vegetable broth 2 cups rice 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes 1 15-ounce can cannellini beans 1 15-ounce can red kidney beans 1 bay leaf 4-6 sprigs fresh thyme 2 teaspoons dried thyme 2 teaspoons dried marjoram 2 teaspoons paprika 1 teaspoon celery seed 1 teaspoon onion powder Pinch of cayenne pepper, to taste Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

1. Take the homemade seitan and cut into bite-sized pieces (if necessary, use store-bought seitan -- but we highly recommend making your own for the best taste and texture). 2. Heat two tablespoons of the oil over medium heat in the largest oven-to-table pot you have, or the biggest heavy-bottomed pot. Saute the seitan in the oil for a few minutes, until it's lightly browned, then remove from the pot and set aside for later. 3. Add two more tablespoons of olive oil to the pot and throw in the onion; saute for about five minutes. 4. Throw in the bell pepper and celery with the onion and press in the garlic. Cook for another ten minutes. The vegetables should be softening, and the garlic should not be burnt or scorched. 5. Stir in the tomato paste and continue to cook the veggies for about four or five more minutes. The vegetables should be thickly coated with the tomato paste. 6. Add 1/2 cup of the vegetable broth to the mixture to deglaze the pan; stir for about a minute. 7. Now stir in the rice, mixing for about four minutes until the grains are coated with the vegetable mixture. 8. Add the can of tomatoes, seitan, beans, bay leaf, all of the herbs and the salt and pepper. 9. Bring the mixture to a simmer, add the remaining four cups of broth and return to a simmer.

10. Now, either cover your oven-ready pot and bake in the oven for 35 minutes if using white rice and 45 minutes if using brown rice. If you're using a pot, place the mixture in a deep casserole dish, cover with foil and bake.

When you remove the jambalaya from the oven, stir it thoroughly, removing the fresh thyme stems and bay leaf, and cover and allow to sit for about ten minutes before serving.

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