Richard (Dad), the family Cajun, loves beans and rice any way you make them. Of course, he prefers the dish with spicy Andouille sausage, but he’ll eat the vegetarian version too. When you’re shopping for the sausage, any precooked sausage will work. However, they can vary substantially in heat level from one brand or one type to the next. If using spicy sausage, wait until the end to add hot sauce, and taste first. You might not need any. We’ve also made this with bacon, a ham bone, or leftover chopped ham. If you’re not using any meat, you’ll want to add a little more salt and hot sauce. Adding peanut butter to the vegetarian version gives it a richer flavor, but it’s not necessary. (See Variations at the end of the recipe.)
This dish is more authentic and tastes much better when made with dried beans that cook several hours, but don’t let that scare you away! Cooking dried beans is very easy. All you need is a little time, which makes it a great weekend dish. We like to soak beans the night before (up to 24 hours) although the quick soak method, as described in How to Cook Dried Beans, also works. We’ve included directions for cooking the beans on top of the stove or in a slow cooker, as well.
If you don’t have time, you can use canned beans. Cook the vegetables and sausage together, then add 3 to 4 (15-ounce) cans of red beans. We usually rinse canned beans first, but you don’t have to. If you want the thick sauce, don’t rinse them.