Red Beans & Rice

I love red beans & rice. So much. My mom made this often when we lived in China so it’s one of those things that taste like “home” to me. 🙂 I asked her if there was a story behind why she  made this or where the recipe came from and this is what she said:

When we lived in China I was always looking for ideas for meals that seemed like “home.” Now we both know that “home” or American food is a hodgepodge of wonderful dishes from all around the world because the US is such a melting pot of cultures—there really isn’t a quintessential American dish, just regional favorites. I landed on red beans and rice early on when I found canned kidney beans in the market. Whenever I found an ingredient that was the basis of something from home, I started thinking about dishes I could make with it for our family. {Random aside—I still wonder what Chinese dish uses kidney beans because I don’t think we have ever been served any Chinese dish in the past 16 years that has them as an ingredient.}

First two dishes that came to mind were red beans & rice and chili. So, then I had to think about the rest of the recipe and that made red beans & rice easy. Kielbasa type sausage was everywhere in some form. We could get the garlic & tomato paste from our tomato paste lady in the market, onions & peppers & tomatoes from our vegetable vendor, and the rest of the spices off of my kitchen shelf. Viola!! Cajun cooking in China. 🙂 {After I came home to America I stopped using tomato paste & chopped tomatoes and just used canned diced tomatoes in my recipe.}

red beans and rice (1)

red beans and rice (3)

Red Beans & Rice


2 cups brown or white rice
4 cups water

1 (16 oz) package kielbasa, cut into 1/4” slices
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (15 oz) can dark red kidney beans, drained
1 (16 oz) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes
½ tsp oregano
½ tsp cumin
1 tsp Worcestershire
1 tsp Cajun seasoning
2 bay leaves
¼ tsp dried sage
½ tsp pepper
½ tsp thyme
salt to taste


1. Cook 2 cups rice and 4 cups water in medium saucepan (or rice cooker).

2. In large skillet or dutch oven over low heat, cook sausage for five minutes. Stir in onion, green pepper, and garlic; sauté until tender. Pour in beans, tomatoes, and seasonings. Simmer uncovered for 20 minutes.

3. Mix rice into bean mixture then serve

Is it just me or does anyone else think my mom should write a book about our time in China? I took for granted all of mom’s pioneering spirit when we were living in China because she made it look easy!

Love Rach


44 responses to “Red Beans & Rice

  1. Yum this sounds and looks so good! I would love to hear more about what it was like living in China!

    xo, Kristina

  2. You know, I don’t ever think I have had red beans and rice. Clearly I am going to have to try this out!

  3. Absolutely there needs to be a book written about your time in China! I would definitely buy a copy. I love me some red beans and rice and this recipe sounds fabulous!. It would make a very hearty meatless meal even if you wanted to leave the kielbasa out but most likely I would probably be having it. Lol

  4. I totally think your mum should write a book, especially if it has delicious recipes like this one in it.

    • She put together a recipe book just for her daughters after we all moved out and I treasure it. There are personalized photos of each of us in the book from our growing up years. It’s pretty adorable. Now she just needs to combine her recipes with her stories and she really will have an awesome book! 🙂

  5. I literally have all the ingredients to make this in my pantry except Cajun seasoning! What. I am making this TONIGHT, girl. Look out. What can I sub for the Cajun seasoning? Red pepper flakes?

  6. This looks so fresh and delicious! And…not too hard. Which is the big selling feature for me haha. I’m a pathetic cook!

  7. I don’t think I knew you lived in China! That’s so neat! Chris is a huge red beans and rice fan, so I need to make your version for him. 🙂

    • I sure did! From 2000 to 2004. I moved to the States for college and my family moved back a year later in 2005. My sister, Abby, moved back there for a year after college, but she’s currently in the States. And my parents visit about 3 times a year still. One of these days I’ll make it back there. I miss it!

      If you do make this for him, you’ll have to let me know what he thinks! I hope he likes it! 🙂

  8. This looks so simple and yummy! We often do jumbalaya rice and kielbasa together… but I love the idea of having beans in the dish.

  9. I love red beans and rice! I don’t like spicy food, but I love cajun style food that isn’t too spicy, like red beans and rice and jambalaya.

  10. Looks delicious! This dish actually reminds me of Cuba because when I was there, I ate a ton of beans and rice. Keeps you full and happy!
    xx, lauren

  11. i’m not a red beans and rice kinda girl, but i love your connection to this! home to me means field peas and rice! it means more now bc it was dad’s favorite dish!

  12. Your mom definitely needs to write a book about the family’s time in China! It’s sweet to me that she made red beans and rice because it reminded her of home (the US) and you make it now and it makes you feel nostalgic for home (China). Full circle!

  13. So cool that your mom would look for American comfort foods to make your home in China feel like HOME. Love! And red beans + rice = yum!


  14. I would totally love to read her book about going to China!! I have never had beans and rice together but I want to try it!
    Evelina @ Fortunate House

  15. I’ve never really had beans and rice together that I can remember, but I’ve heard of other bloggers mentioning it, so it must be a regional sort of food. Red kidney beans are easy to find here because they are used in several popular local desserts. I’m still not the biggest fan of lentils in my dessert. 😛 I vote ‘yes’ for the book, I’m drawn to books about expat life for obvious reasons. 🙂

    • YES! That’s what it is! Red bean paste inside dumplings! And red bean ice cream. I can’t believe I forgot about that. I bet that’s what they use the red kidney beans for. I’ll have to pass that on to my mom. I’m sure when she was brain storming for times she’d had kidney beans in China she was thinking of the actual bean, but I bet that’s what they make the paste with.

      I’m guessing red beans & rice is kind of a southern food. I know it’s a cajun-style food so I suppose it has traveled up a bit to us “northern” South states. 😉 And I know beans & rice in general is a common food in South America. So again, it makes sense that it would slowly travel up this way. It’s simple, but filling. 🙂

      I think you should write a book as well! Not only do you have the expat thing going for you, but also the big family thing. Plus you’re a good writer! I’d read your book!

  16. I love red beans! Never paired them with rice though, gotta try that some time.

  17. Your Mom should definitely write a book! So interesting to hear about those everyday life moments and challenges living in a completely different place. I love your connection to this recipe, and it looks really good! Weird question; did you have a similar recipe in your archives? Because I think I made something like it once, and I thought it was one of your recipes. If yes, I liked it!

  18. We have been obsessed with red rice and beans ever since our cruise!!! SO good!!!!

  19. Yup, this looks good! I love a good plate of rice and beans so can’t wait to try this recipe!

  20. your mom should definitely write a book! i love beans and rice so i should definitely try this. i love what she said about america being a hodgepodge of around the world, i think that australia is the same. people ask me sometimes about australian food and there is no straight answer i can give them.

  21. I would be interested to read your mom’s book about China! She could even market a cookbook for expats living in China, I bet. When I lived in China, I used to follow a blogger who posted recipes for using the rice cooker in unusual ways (like she figured out a way to make bread with it, and even cake!). I never tried it because I am LAZY when it comes to the kitchen, and a very tiny “bakery” opened near my apartment. I remember buying a loaf of some raisin nut bread from them and being really surprised when I realized that pieces of the nut’s shell had also made it’s way into the bread dough–*CHOKE*!

    • She actually did make a cookbook for other teachers we knew living in China! She passes them out to people before they go. She should make it way more official and wide-spread, though. Her recipes are awesome. Not to mention her stories!

      Yikes! The piece of nut shell sounds kind of scary. Glad you didn’t break a tooth! I always hear about people making all kinds of things in their rice cookers and that sounds super cool… but then I just go about making things the way I always have instead, haha!

  22. Yes, your mom should totally write a book on your life in China! Or… you should do a blog series on it featuring your mom and her take on it!!

    Red beans and rice sound so good, especially with kielbasa!

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