Slow Cooker Red Beans, Rice & Tofu
December 5, 2018

My slow cooker has been a very good friend to me throughout the last twelve weeks of clinical work. I rarely use it overnight on weeknights the way I used to, mostly because I have to rush in the morning (and don’t want to clean it). But it’s a wonderful helper on weekends, when I’m batch cooking: one less thing that needs careful monitoring, and great for cooking/freezing in bulk.

Since rice and beans are one of my staples, I recently got to thinking whether or not I could prep them in my slow cooker for a change. The answer is yes, and this recipe for slow cooker red beans, rice & tofu is my first try.

I’ve mentioned in past posts that I love adding tofu to rice & beans: it gives the dish extra plant protein, heft, and texture. In this recipe, extra firm tofu plays the role that sausage might play in an authentic red rice & beans recipe, except that, with my schedule these days, I didn’t do anything fancy to season the tofu beforehand. I just threw it into the slow cooker with all of the other ingredients and allowed it to soak up flavor—which is what tofu is great at doing!

My extra firm tofu of choice is from Nasoya, makers of awesome, organic soy foods that are accessible all over the country. I love the texture of this tofu, which is firm enough (in my opinion) to resist the need for pressing. If you do want to press it, it gets even denser. I’ve used it both ways, but in this recipe, I just patted it and squeezed it gently between paper towels before adding, without any time in my press.

When I add the Nasoya extra firm tofu to recipes, I usually cube it into pieces that are about 3/4-1″ big. When I cut the block up evenly, it’s 32 pieces (invariably they end up a little uneven, but it’s all good.

When I want the best flavor from a slow cooker recipe, I sauté the onions and other veggies (peppers, celery, etc) in some olive oil before turning the slow cooker on (my current slow cooker allows me to sear/sauté in the device, but in the past I’d just do it in a pan). For this recipe, you can skip that step or roll with it: it adds a bit more depth of flavor, but the dish will be perfectly spicy and flavorful no matter what, thanks to the spice mix.

Note that, for this recipe, rice gets added after the other ingredients have cooked for a while, so if you’re cooking overnight, you’ll want to plan to add in the morning. I cooked for 4 hours and added the rice 1 hour before cook time was done.

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Slow Cooker Red Beans, Rice & Tofu

Author - Gena Hamshaw
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 8 hours 10 minutes
Yields: 8 -12 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 lb kidney beans, soaked overnight or for 8 hours and drained
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large or 2 small onions, diced
  • 3 large stalks celery, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 14 ounces Nasoya extra firm tofu, cubed
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 7 cups water + 1 vegan chicken style bouillon cube or 7 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoons fine salt (more as needed; the bouillon or broth will plenty of salt as well, but you can increase the starting amount to 1 1/2-2 teaspoons if you use low-sodium broth)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (this is very mild, which is my style, but feel free to ramp it up if you like a lot of heat!)
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 1/4 cups long-grain white or brown rice*
  • 1-2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, to taste
  • Hot sauce and chopped green onions, for topping

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Boil the beans for 15 minutes. Drain and rinse.
  • Optional: heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and pepper. Sauté for 5-7 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and the onion is gently browning. Add these ingredients to the slow cooker.
  • Add all remaining ingredients except for rice and vinegar to the slow cooker. If you don't choose to sauté the vegetables, you can skip the olive oil and dump everything but the rice and vinegar into the slow cooker now!
  • Cook the ingredients on low for 6 hours or high for 3 hours. Add the rice. Continue cooking for 2 more hours on low or 1 hour on high (1 1/2 hours if you use brown rice instead of white). Remove the bay leaves. Stir in the vinegar and add additional salt as needed. Serve, with plenty of hot sauce and chopped green onions if desired.

This is, as so many of my recent recipes are these days, a staple that can be dressed up in a ton of ways. With a good squeeze of hot sauce it’s a light lunch. With a big salad or a couple veggie sides, it’s dinner. Stuffed into some corn or whole wheat tacos, it’s a perfect breakfast. I’m so happy to still have a ton of it in my freezer.

And, speaking of how voluminous the recipe is, it’s totally OK to cut the whole thing in half if you like—and it’s an especially good idea to do that if you have a smaller sized slow cooker.

Rice and beans is a perfect combination of foods in just about every way: nutritionally, texturally, economically. Tofu makes it all the better and all the more nutrient-dense, and I can’t wait to make this one again.

Wishing you a nourishing end to the week, and I’ll see you this weekend.

xo

This post is sponsored by Nasoya. All opinions are my own, and I love this go-to brand of tofu and other creative soy products! Thanks for your support.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something I may earn a commission. Visit my privacy policy to learn more.

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    15 Comments
  1. Hi there. This looks great. I’ll have to find your tempeh recipe someone mentioned. How much water should I leave out if I omit the rice?

  2. FINALLY! !!!!! !

    a recipe to inspire me to use my slow cooker again!

    actually, i have an instant pot, and have never used it as a slow cooker. truth be told, i’ve hardly used it for anything but cooking large batches of beans to use and freeze. i’m really under-utilizing the potential of this machine. my slow cooker days were all pre-instant pot.

    but this – this I can get down with. hot, nutritious, stick to your ribs winter food for these freaking cold winter NYC days.

    thank you, Gena!! xoxo, Maggie

  3. Hi. Is it one bouillon cube total? Or 7 (one for each cup of water?
    Thx! Making this today. I’m using red beans instead of kidney.

  4. Ah, I always wondered about how seriously to take the kidney bean warnings–thanks for looking into it! I also love the idea of combining rice, beans and tofu in one dish.
    Speaking of kidney beans, I made your tempeh and bean chili from over on Food52 last night, using all kidney beans. It was wonderful! Will definitely be making that again.

  5. Recently saw this on a pop science channel I like:
    https://youtu.be/jd_623WhDCc?t=30

    I wonder what you think about it. They pretty much recommend not cooking kidney beans in a slow cooker, though the soaking and draining would help. I am loving this recipe idea and probably will try it out soon, though with pinto or white beans because I usually have those on hand.

    • Just got a few emails about this! Updating the recipe accordingly. I had no trouble with an overnight soak, but looks like the safest bet is either 1. 15 minute boil prior to adding to slow cooker or 2. Overnight soak and cooking on high setting. Thanks for asking 🙂