For health, religious and philosophical reasons, many cooks have taken to leaving the pork out of Southern dishes which traditionally called for pig. But Lee Anne Leland was determined to re-create a childhood favorite without any meat when she became a vegetarian in 2018.
“The secret is to use oil as a replacement for the bacon grease,” Leland says of the recipe she devised for red rice, a longtime staple of her family dinner table.
Leland uses olive oil when making red rice, but says sesame oil and raw unfiltered red palm oil work just as well. “Once you have the basic recipe, don't be afraid to get creative,” she advises.
Lee Anne Leland’s Red Rice
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
1 sweet pepper, diced
2 carrots, riced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Baby portabella mushrooms, chopped (optional)
Jalapeno pepper, diced (optional)
1 6-ounce can of tomato paste
1 1/2 cups of vegetable broth
2 cups uncooked brown rice
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly-ground peppercorns
Heat the olive oil in a pan. Add onions, pepper, carrots, celery and garlic; add mushrooms and jalapeno pepper, if using. Cook until onions are translucent, about 5-7 minutes.
Stir in tomato paste, vegetable broth, salt and pepper. Simmer for 5 minutes.
Spoon mixture into a rice steamer and then stir in rice. Steam for at least one hour, stirring after 30 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.
Editor’s note: Leland’s red rice is one of four competing in The Post and Courier food section’s recipe contest for a category crown. Over the course of a year, the newspaper will publish four reader-supplied recipes for each of 12 iconic Lowcountry dishes.
Featured recipes have been lightly edited to conform with the newspaper’s style, but they have not been tested: It’s up to readers to choose a winner. To weigh in on the red rice race, join us at bit.ly/PCFoodFBgroup.