Red Beans and Rice in the Pressure Cooker

Happy Marti Gras to all!

I LOOOOVE red beans and rice.  I hadn't tried it before Kevin and I took our (belated) honeymoon vacation cruise out of Houston, TX last May.  Once we returned home, I knew I needed to make a homemade version so I could have this comforting, spicy, and delicious dish at home whenever I wanted.  I came up with my Vegan Red Beans and Rice dish back in June, but since then I have gotten my beloved Instant Pot pressure cooker and needed to adapt the recipe.

This weekend, Kevin and I took a trip to a cute nearby town called Port Townsend.  Kevin really wanted to try a Southern-inspired restaurant there, called Addie Mae's Southern Kitchen, that his parents had told him about, and we thought it would be a nice day to walk around Fort Worden.  It ended being a beautiful, mostly sunny day.  We ended up getting in over 3 miles of hiking around!  We hadn't been back here since we first started dating (four years ago almost to the day), so we took a before and after picture.

Before in February 2011.  Kevin was quite beardless, and I haven't aged a bit... right? ;)
After 4 years together.  The water in the background is part of the Puget Sound where our Alaskan Cruise ship will be passing through come August.  I'm so excited to have another awesome vacation with this guy to look forward to!

At Addie Mae's, Kevin had his chicken and waffles he had been wanting so badly, while I settled on the vegetarian red beans and rice.  Expecting something similar to what I make, it actually came with a whole lot of rice, topped with some beans and veggies.  Perhaps there are different ways to make and serve it, but I prefer my version with a whole lot of beans with some rice mixed in.  Maybe that is from 4+ years of being a Nutritarian, my brain is rewired to prefer more beans than rice!

Addie Mae's version of (vegetarian) Red Beans and Rice.  I did enjoy the bigger chunks of
vegetables, although I wouldn't be able to make it like that at home and expect Kevin to eat it.
I was not a huge fan of how much rice it had.
This version used large red kidney beans, but I prefer the small red beans.
 I also needed to add quite a bit of hot sauce to it.
So, last night, in the spirit of Marti Gras (and wanting to remember how great the bean-heavy version of red beans and rice is), I decided to make my version in my Instant Pot.  Because the IP cooks so quickly, I added a bit more spices than the original stove top recipe, and because it limits evaporation, I cut the liquids down quite a bit.

Red Beans and Rice
Time: 5 minute prep, 8 minutes high pressure, natural pressure release
Servings: 6-8 servings

This is what small red beans look like
before soaking.  Kevin was nice enough
 to get them soaking on his day off
(lucky teachers!) while I was at work.
He had to send me a picture to confirm
that he was picking the right ones.
You could most certainly use red
kidney beans, but you would need to
adjust the cooking time a bit.
        1 lb small red beans, soaked (quick or overnight - see note below), drained, and rinsed
        1 yellow onion, finely chopped
        1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
        3 celery stalks, finely chopped
        4 cloves garlic, minced (approximately 1 Tbsp)
        3 cups vegetable broth (boiling if possible)
        1 1/2 cups boiling water
        1.5 Tbsp chili powder
        1.5 tsp smoked paprika
        1.5 tsp dried thyme
        1 tsp dried oregano
        1 tsp dried parsley
        2 bay leaves
        1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
        Fresh ground black pepper to taste

        cooked brown rice
        green onions
        Louisiana hot sauce
        nutritional yeast

1.)  While you are prepping the other ingredients, bring the water and vegetable broth to a boil in a large saucepan.  Cover until you are ready to use.  In a pressure cooker, if you add boiling liquids, it will help it come up to high pressure sooner.  (See my notes below.)

2.)  In a heated pressure cooker, saute the onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic until lightly cooked and browned, adding small amounts of water to prevent burning.

3.)  Add into the pressure cooker the beans, spices, and boiling vegetable broth and water, being careful to pour slowly as not to scald yourself.

4.)  Stir to combine well and lock the lid into place.  Set to high pressure for 8 minutes.  Once the timer is up, allow pressure to come down naturally (for the IP, warm or off setting will work).

5.)  After the pressure has come down, release the lid and stir.  Use an immersion blender, or blend a few cups of the beans and liquid in a high powered blender.  You will want the red beans to be creamy, but have chunks of beans and vegetables.

6.)  Serve hot topped with brown rice, and your favorite condiments like nutritional yeast, green onion, or Louisiana hot sauce.

Amy's Notes:
To soak the beans, measure out 1 lb and pick out any stones, sticks, or damaged dried beans.  Then put them in a large bowl and cover with at least two inches of water.  Allow to soak overnight or while you are at work.  Strain the beans and rinse thoroughly before beginning the recipe.

Alternatively, you can use the quick soak method in the Instant pot.  Measure out 1 lb and pick out any stones, sticks, or damaged beans.  Add them to your pressure cooker with enough water to cover.  Lock the lid in place and set to high pressure for 1 minute.  Wait until the pressure comes down naturally, then strain the beans and rinse thoroughly before beginning the recipe.

I have had success with both of these methods, but I prefer to soak my beans during the day, because it results in less time waiting around the kitchen to start making the meal.

As I mentioned in the instructions, it is helpful to bring the vegetable broth and water to a boil before adding it to the pressure cooker.  This is not necessary for the recipe, but will make bringing the pressure cooker to high pressure that much faster.  If you are not in any sort of time crunch, no need to bother.  This can be done to any recipe to make coming to pressure that much quicker.

Health and Happiness,


Cauliflower and Spinach Risotto

Have you ever had risotto?  Risotto is one of those dishes that I used to only be able to get at restaurants and would roll my eyes in ecstasy when I saw it on the menu.  Still to this day, my favorite dish at a restaurant ever is a Brasilian risotto at Kevin and my favorite restaurant near our college town.  We actually went there for our first date (4 years ago, today happens to be our 4 year dating anniversary :)).

Until recently, the fancy name and decadent nature of a risotto had me resigned to think of it as a restaurant only food.  No more!  In Jill Nussinow's amazing pressure cooking cookbook, The New Fast Food, she walks you through how perfectly easy and delicious making risotto at home can be.

To make the recipe below, I adapted her Basic Risotto recipe (page 53) to include cauliflower "rice", some of my favorite spices, and some frozen spinach (as she recommends on page 54).  I included cauliflower "rice" in this recipe 1.) to cut down on calories (aka so I can eat more of it), and 2.) to use up some cauliflower I had had in my fridge since last week.

Lately, I have been getting most of my produce from Costco, as I discussed in this post.  So, when I pick a veggie to eat, I generally need to commit to it, as they come in larger quantities from Costco.  I had had some steamed cauliflower for dinner the other day, but other than that, the cauliflower in my fridge wasn't calling my name, UNTIL, I remembered you can make "rice" with cauliflower!  I may not be into eating a full cup or so of cauliflower florets this week, but I can get onboard with "rice"!

This recipe is more strictly a Pressure Cooker recipe, as I have never made risotto without my IP.  If you give it a shot on the stovetop, please let me know how it goes and what times it took everything to cook!

Cauliflower and Spinach Risotto
Pressure Cooker Time: 5 minute prep, 5 minutes at pressure, quick release
Servings: 4 servings

        1/2 onion, finely chopped
        3-4 cloves garlic, pressed
        4 cups vegetable broth
        1+1/2 cup arborio rice
        1 tsp dried basil
        1/2 tsp dried parsley
        1/4 tsp white pepper (optional)

        2 cups uncooked "riced" cauliflower (directions here)
        1/2 cup water

        1-10oz package frozen spinach, defrosted and liquid squeezed out
        lemon juice and nutritional yeast to garnish

1.)  In a heated pressure cooker, saute the onion and garlic for 2-3 minutes, adding small amounts of water to prevent burning.
2.)  Add in the vegetable broth, arborio rice, and spices.  Lock the lid in place and cook at high pressure for 3 minutes.
3.)  Quick release the pressure.
4.)  After the pressure has been release, take care to remove the lid, then stir in the "riced" cauliflower and additional 1/2 cup water.
5.)  Lock the lid in place again and cook at high pressure for 2 additional minutes.
6.)  Quick release the pressure.
7.)  Remove the lid and stir in the spinach.  Season with black pepper and lemon juice to taste.  Serve hot with some nutritional yeast sprinkled on top.

Amy's Notes:
For this recipe, the type of rice is very important!  Arborio rice is particularly for risotto, so traditional brown rice varieties won't work, at least not with the amount of time I suggested.

Once the recipe was done, I was super surprised not to taste the cauliflower at all.  I know it is there, but if I didn't make it, I wouldn't have known.  Yay for hidden veggies!

Health and Happiness,



Aztec Corn and Quinoa Chowder

Fun Fact: February 4th is National Homemade Soup Day!

I know.  I know.  It is the dead of winter and I'm giving you guys a corn chowder recipe!?  I was just craving that sweetness of summer today, and when looking through my fridge (and freezer), a big bag of frozen corn just called to me.  Of course, you can make this with fresh-off-the-cob corn, but make do with what you have.

I made this recipe in the pressure cooker, but it can easily be made in a crockpot or on the stovetop.  In the pressure cooker, this recipe only takes 6 minutes at pressure, with 10 minutes before a quick release, meaning dinner will be on the table in about 30 minutes.  For the crockpot, I would estimate it would need 6 hours on low.  On the stovetop, it should be done after simmering for 30 minutes or so.

Serve this chowder hot or cold, with a drizzle of your favorite hot sauce or salsa.  This would also be wonderful with a bit of pico de gallo, like this recipe here, or some fresh cilantro.

Aztec Corn Chowder with Quinoa
Pressure Cooker Time: approx. 30 minutes total
(5 minutes prep, 3 minute saute, 6 minutes high pressure, 10 minutes rest before quick pressure release)

Servings: 6-8 servings

        1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
        1 medium carrot, peeled and finely diced
        1 large potato (approx. 1 lb), peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
        4 cups frozen or fresh corn, 1 cup reserved
        1/2 cup dried red lentils, rinsed and drained
        1/2 cup dried quinoa, rinsed and drained
        1 bell pepper, deseeded and chopped (any color pepper)
        3 cups water
        3 cups vegetable broth
        1 Tbsp chili powder
        1 1/2 tsp dried coriander
        1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
        1 tsp dried oregano

1.)  In the pressure cooker, saute the onion for 2-3 minutes until translucent.
2.)  Add all of the other ingredients, spices, and liquids, EXCEPT 1 cup of corn.
3.)  Lock the lid in place and set to cook at high pressure for 6 minutes.  After the 6 minutes, cancel the warming feature and allow to sit for 10 minutes while the pressure comes down.  After 10 minutes, release any remaining pressure.
4.)  With an immersion blender, blend the chowder until it is halfway creamy (2 cups in a blender will work too), being careful not to over-process and make the potatoes taste gummy.
5.)  Lastly, stir in the reserved cup of corn until it has warmed up with the rest of the soup.  Serve hot or cold with hot sauce, salsa, vegan cheese or sour cream, pico de gallo, cilantro, green onion, lime, etc.
Amy's Notes:
Yum!  I really love this chowder!  I went back for another half of a bowl.  For me, a bit of salsa and hot sauce really brought the flavors all together.

Health and Happiness,