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Vegetarian Dirty Rice in a skillet ready to be shared.

Vegetarian Dirty Rice

Vegetarian Dirty Rice is inspired by the traditional Creole meat based recipe(s). This meat-free version relies on lentils and kidney beans for protein and texture while leaning on onion, bell pepper, celery and spices to bring out savory, umami filled flavors. Long grain brown rice ties all the ingredients together! This recipe is freezer friendly, vegetarian, vegan and easily gluten free.
*Note there is a bit of overlap in cooking and prep time, so the total time edges closer to one hour.
Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine American, Vegan, Vegetarian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 6 Servings
Calories 313kcal
Author Traci York | Vanilla And Bean


  • 6 C (1.3 kg) Water
  • 1 C (204g) Long Grain Brown Rice
  • 1/2 C (110g) French Lentils dry, uncooked
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1 tsp Fine Sea Salt divided
  • 3 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 C (120g) Green Bell Pepper diced small, about one medium
  • 1 C (115g) Red or Yellow Onion diced small, about one medium
  • 1/2 C (65g) Celery diced small, about 1 rib
  • 2 Tbs Tomato Paste
  • 2 Tbs Garlic about 3 large cloves, chopped fine or minced
  • 1 Tbs Cajun Seasoning or Creole Seasoning, gluten free if needed
  • 1 (425g) Can of Cooked Kidney Beans drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 tsp Liquid Smoke gluten free if needed
  • 1-2 tsp Vegan Worcestershire Sauce gluten free if needed
  • Fresh Lemon Juice
  • Chopped Fresh Parsley, and Chopped Chives or Green Onion. for serving


Cook the Rice and Lentils

  • In a 4 quart sauce pot bring the water to a boil. Add the rice, lentils, bayleaf and 1/2 tsp salt. Bring back to a boil, turn heat down to medium and lid, leaving lid slightly ajar.
    Simmer for 30-35 minutes or until the rice and lentils are tender. Drain, reserving at least 1 1/4 C (281g) of cooking liquid (it will be used later to make the sauce). Place the rice and lentils back in their cooking pot, lid and set aside off heat.

Cook the Veggies

  • *A note about the veggies. Be sure they're diced small, otherwise they'll be crunchyish at the end of cooking. We're looking for them to be soft.
    In a large, heavy saucepan with 3" sides (7.5cm), add the oil and heat until shimmering. Add the bell pepper, onion and celery. Turn the heat to low. Stir. Cook, stirring occassionally for about 12-15 minutes. The veggies are done when the they're tender/soft and brown bits (fond - pronounced fahn – the brown bits that stick to the bottom of the pan) are just starting to appear in the pan.

Add the Spices and Beans

  • To the pan of veggies, add the tomato paste, garlic, Cajun or Creole seasoning and remaining 1/2 tsp salt. Stir for about 30 seconds, coating the veggies. Pour in 3/4 C (180g) of the reserved cooking liquid from the lentils and rice. Stir.
    To the pan, add the drained kidney beans. Stir. Heat should be on medium-low to low. Lid the pan and gently cook the beans through for about 8-10 minutes. Check on the beans a few times while cooking and If needed, add just a bit more cooking liquid from the reserved liquid. Your beans should be saucy, and moist, not dry.

Putting it All Together

  • Turn the heat to low and transfer the drained rice and lentils to the bean mixture. Add the liquid smoke and Worcestershire sauce (start with 1 tsp of Worcestershire.). Sprinkle a squeeze of lemon over the top and to taste, then gently fold all the ingredients together.
    If needed, to loosen the mixture or if it starts to get too dry, add a splash of cooking liquid - you'll probably not use it all - thats okay. Taste for salt adjustment and add more Worcestershire to taste. Lid. Leave on low heat for 3-5 minutes just to warm though, checking to make sure it isn't sticking - the pan should be almost dry, with a moist (but not sticky) rice mixture.
  • Share with lemon wedges, Tabasco sauce, chopped parsley and chives or green onions.

For Storage

  • Store in a lidded container in the refrigerator for up to three days or in the freezer for up to two weeks. Thaw in the fridge overnight. Gently reheat on stove top adding a splash of water if needed.


Serving: 6Servings | Calories: 313kcal | Carbohydrates: 56g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 467mg | Potassium: 558mg | Fiber: 13g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 786IU | Vitamin C: 26mg | Calcium: 65mg | Iron: 4mg