Weeknight Red Beans and Rice
Weeknight Red Beans and Rice is perfect as a main course or a side dish. The strong celery flavor adds intense brightness and freshness to this recipe. Garlic, onion and red beans are the perfect compliment to the smoky saltiness from the kielbasa.
When I think of red beans and rice, I think of amazing comfort food.. and the poetic shoutout that Sir-Mix-A-Lot gives this dish in ‘Baby Got Back’. 🙂 Red beans are an excellent source of fiber and protein. They are so versatile. They take on the flavor of whatever seasonings that you’re using in your recipe. And they have the best creamy texture that they add to any meal.
This recipe originated about two years ago. My favorite coworker Lennie brought me in some of his Mom’s rice and beans and it was absolutely amazing! I thought about it for days later so I knew I wanted to try to make a version all my own. I came up with this recipe and brought some to work. It was Lennie approved so that’s all the proof that you need that it was delicious. On a side note, my friend Lennie will definitely be famous for his pen tapping beats and music that he makes. He’s appeared on MTV and he’s uniquely talented with a lot of exciting things on his horizon. Check him out on Tik Tok, Instagram and YouTube under the name Lenstrumental.
The secret that makes this recipe so great is the celery flavor. You have fresh celery, the celery leaves and celery salt. Cooked celery alone has excellent flavor. The celery leaves offer such intense, fresh flavor. And bonus points for celery leaves because they are very nutritious. Celery salt is such a warm, delicious seasoning. It really is not used enough. It lends one of my favorite flavors in my Lemony Oven Roasted Whole Chicken.
This is an excellent dinner or side dish for those busy and crazy weeknights where you need to figure out dinner as quick as possible. This meal comes together easily and quickly. Everything comes together in under 30 minutes! Fast dinners like this are a lifesaver when life gets chaotic.
Days and nights lately have been especially crammed with running around and errands. The last month has been a lot. The entire household came down with a mild case of the plague. That caused a very busy following week for me leading up to Father’s Day because we were hosting a big cookout and all planning was delayed . School ended for Aidan and Logan. Aidan also started his very own lawnmowing business, began training for his new camp counselor job for the summer and most importantly, he’s done a lot of work to become….. A LICENSED DRIVER! We’re so proud of him. But yes, the month has been a ton of running around so this lady
loves needs some simple and easy dinners.
This is a dinner that is budget friendly. The recipe calls for a lot of items that you probably have on hand in your fridge or pantry. Beans, kielbasa, celery and rice are all very inexpensive items that are readily available. You can also use things that you have leftover or in the fridge to add your own special spin on this recipe. Throwing out food is the worst so rice dishes like this are a great way to toss in whatever you have so that it doesn’t go to waste.
Weeknight Red Beans and Rice is perfect if you’re feeding a crowd or cooking in bulk to have leftovers for lunch at work. This is a great dish to bring to your next potluck or BBQ. It makes a large amount and it travels easily. It’s great served right at room temperature and so cheap and easy to make that it’s a perfect recipe option.
Clean up for this meal is another perk to your busy weeknights. You’ll make everything in just one pan on the stovetop. There’s nothing better than everything coming together quickly and easily and in just one pan.
What can I use in this Weeknight Red Beans and Rice recipe instead of kielbasa?
I love to use kielbasa in this recipe because it adds an amazing smoky saltiness to this rice. Best of all, kielbasa is something that comes already cooked so it’s a major time-saver. This rice recipe is super versatile. You can substitute the kielbasa with any protein that you like.
To keep this recipe a quick one, I would recommend a ground meat so that it will cook quickly. Or feel free to use whatever leftover meat you have in the fridge from last night’s dinner. Try some of these options below:
- Chicken breast
- Pork chops
- Italian sausage
- Ground meat such as chicken, pork, veal, turkey or beef
Or make this a vegetarian dish and just completely omit the meat all together. The flavors that lend the most to this dish are the garlic, celery and red beans so no meat, no problem.
Variations and Add-Ins
Red beans: Instead of red beans, you are free to use whatever your preference is. Black beans, cannellini, pink or pinto beans would all be great substitutions.
Celery or celery salt: If you only have fresh celery OR celery salt, you could just use what you have. I like the added layers of flavor by using fresh celery, celery leaves and celery salt. But you’ll still get great flavor if you have only celery or celery salt.
White rice: I always use white rice in my rice and beans recipe but feel free to mix it up. You can use a Spanish-style yellow rice. Or use brown rice instead. Brown rice does take longer to cook and will increase the cook time. And if you wanted to really save time, you could use a Minute Rice or Boil-In-Bag rice.
Different spices: The beauty of rice dishes like this one is that you can add whatever you like to enhance the flavor. You could add some crushed red pepper if you want to add a little bit of spice. Or you could add 1 teaspoon of chili powder and/or smoked paprika to compliment the smokiness of the kielbasa.
What is the best way to dice the kielbasa?
Dicing the kielbasa is very easy. You want to end up with small, squarish chunks. I unwrap the kielbasa and cut into thirds. Take the first piece and slice in half length-wise. Slice each half in half length-wise. Then, chop into small chunks. See the example below.
How do I store and reheat leftovers?
Weeknight Red Beans and Rice is excellent leftover the next day for a dinner side. Or enjoy it the following afternoon for a hearty, filling and healthy lunch. Store any leftovers in an airtight container. This recipe heats perfectly in the microwave for about 30-60 seconds.
Time Saving Tips
- As mentioned earlier, using Minute Rice or Boil-In-Bag rice can be a big time saver. I like to cook the rice in my rice cooker earlier in the day so it’s all set come dinner time when I need it. It may be a little more difficult to break apart the clumps of rice when mixing. But just keep at it when breaking the rice apart and everything will be lovely and wonderful with your meal.
- If you have time earlier in the day or even the night before, you can prep ahead. Slice the celery. Chop the garlic and purple onion. Drain and rinse the canned red beans. And dice the kielbasa. Store in airtight containers or Ziplock bags and refrigerate until showtime.
- You could even combine the seasonings so they’re all ready to quickly and easily toss into the skillet. Add salt, black pepper, garlic powder, dried oregano, celery salt and cumin into a ramekin, jar or Ziplock bag.
Thinly slice celery (including the leaves). Heat a pan sprayed skillet over medium heat. Add ¼ cup vegetable oil and celery with leaves. Cook while stirring occasionally for 5 minutes.
Chop garlic and purple onion. Drain and rinse the canned red beans. Add the garlic, purple onion and red beans to the oil in the skillet. Stir and cook for 3 minutes.
Dice kielbasa into small chunks and add to skillet. Stir and cook for 3 minutes.
Add additional ¼ cup vegetable oil and the cooked white rice. Season with salt, black pepper, garlic powder, dried oregano, celery salt and cumin. Mix everything together until fully combined. Allow to cook for another 5 minutes and stir occasionally until the rice is heated through.
Looking for more great recipes?
- The World’s Easiest Spanish Rice with Salsa is a recipe that delivers on the classic delicious flavors that you’re expecting in a fraction of the time. The secret shortcut ingredient? A good jarred salsa. This is a hearty and delicious dinner packed with protein from pork and red beans with just the right amount of bright freshness from the lime and cilantro. It’s a perfect side dish or quick weeknight main course.
- Quick Kielbasa & Shrimp Skillet Gumbo Rice is the perfect dinner to feed a family on a budget during a busy weeknight. The creole flavors in this dish accentuate the smoky kielbasa and succulent shrimp perfectly. This will become a fast family favorite.
- Cheesy Chicken Quesadillas & Salsa come together very easily and pack unbelievable flavor. Taco cheese, chicken, salsa, cumin and chili powder give this recipe great authentic flavor. Fresh cilantro adds the perfect amount of freshness.
- Taco Rigatoni and Cheese is a creamy, dreamy and tasty pasta. This will save your time and money all while feeding a crowd. A special topping of Dorito Nacho Cheese chips is the special ingredient. This dish has all of the flavor and texture you want in a perfect pasta dinner.
- Delicious 5-Alarm Chili will warm your soul. The hearty, spicy and meaty flavors of this dish are what a great chili is all about. The layers and depth of flavor will have you making this recipe again and again.
Did you use any of these time saving tips when preparing your Weeknight Red Beans and Rice? Did you substitute or add anything to the recipe? Let me know in the comments below. I love hearing about your creative adjustments that you guys make to your recipes. Thank you, as always, for supporting the Spice and Sugar Mama food blog!
Weeknight Red Beans and Rice
- ¼ + ¼ Cups vegetable oil
- 2½ Cups celery (including leaves)
- 5 Cloves garlic
- 2 Tablespoons purple onion
- 30 Ounces canned red beans, drained and rinsed
- 14 Ounces kielbasa
- 3 Cups cooked white rice
- 1 Teaspoon salt
- 1 Teaspoon black pepper
- 1 Teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 Teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 Teaspoon celery salt
- 1 Teaspoon cumin
- Thinly slice celery (including the leaves). Heat a pan sprayed skillet over medium heat. Add ¼ cup vegetable oil and celery with leaves. Cook while stirring occasionally for 5 minutes.
- Chop garlic and purple onion. Drain and rinse the canned red beans. Add the garlic, purple onion and red beans to the oil in the skillet. Stir and cook for 3 minutes.
- Dice kielbasa into small chunks and add to skillet. Stir and cook for 3 minutes.
- Add additional ¼ cup vegetable oil and the cooked white rice. Season with salt, black pepper, garlic powder, dried oregano, celery salt and cumin. Mix everything together until fully combined. Allow to cook for another 5 minutes and stir occasionally until the rice is heated through.