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This all vegetable version of Louisiana's dazzling, famous Creole rice dish captures the color and excitement of the New Orleans great, annual Mardi Gras festival.
- 3 tablespoons sunflower oil or 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 large bay leaf
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 4 1⁄2 cups vegetable stock
- 1⁄4 lb fresh okra
- 1 1⁄2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
- 1⁄2 cup baby corn
- 1⁄4 lb peeled squash or 1⁄4 lb pumpkin
- 1 1⁄2 cups arborio rice
- salt and pepper
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- 1 (15 ounce) can red kidney beans, washed and drained
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- Heat a large, heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat.
- Add the oil and cook the celery, pepper, onion and garlic for 7 minutes until lightly browned.
- Add the bay leaf and thyme and cook for 2 minutes longer.
- Add the stock, stir well, and bring to a boil.
- Meanwhile, trim off the tops of the okra stems.
- Add the okra, tomatoes, baby corn, and squash to the pan, reduce the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Then stir in the rice.
- Season with salt, pepper and cayenne to taste.
- Bring back to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in the beans and parsley, and cook for 5 minutes more.
- When the rice is done, check the seasoning.
- Serve hot.