Holy Trinity of Cajun Cooking

If ever there was a secret ingredient it’s these three simple vegetables. They are inexpensive, easy to find, and close to indestructible once in the sauté pan. Believe it or not, we are talking about the common onion, bell pepper, and celery, the holy trinity of Cajun and Creole cooking.

Most experienced cooks will recognize these three greats, but if you are new to the game, then listen to this. Combine chopped onion, chopped bell pepper, and 2/3 a cup of chopped celery, add a good dash of Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning (and a pinch of red pepper flakes if you are the spicy type) and a good bit of olive oil, dance it all around in a big sauté pan for 15 or 20 minutes or so (you don’t have to stand there, just give it a stir every time you pass by), and you have an amazingly flavorful base for red sauce, gumbo and a double hand full of great stews.

The French have a veggie combo that is probably the progenitor of ours, mirepoix, which is a combination of onions, carrots, and celery. The Italian version, soffritto, is also made up of carrots, celery, and onions, but the Spanish take on this vegetable base is garlic, onion, peppers and tomatoes.

Whatever combination you use, remember to cook them until they are the most flavorful. If you just dance them around in a pan, as they do on TV, your results will be poor. Always remember to season as you go.


Red Sauce with Zucchini

1 chopped onion

½ cup chopped celery

1 chopped bell pepper

½ cup chopped carrot

2 cups thick-sliced zucchini

2 large cans of whole tomatoes

Freshly ground black pepper, salt, 1-2 pinches Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes

Butter and olive oil as needed

Season the onions, bell pepper, celery and carrot, then sauté in oil (and butter if your diet allows it) until tender (if you are really in a rush, 15 minutes, fi you have the time, 25 minutes). Add the canned whole tomatoes, and one can re-filled with water. Simmer until almost thick enough. Add the zucchini and cook until tender. Remember to taste as you go along, and re-season as necessary. Serve with rice, pasta or crusty bread.


Chicken stew

1 rotisserie chicken

1 chopped onion

1 chopped bell pepper

1 cup chopped celery

4-6 cups chicken stock

¼ cup flour

¼ cup butter or olive oil

Black pepper, red pepper flakes

Olive oil

De-bone the chicken and set the chicken meat aside. Put the stock in a stockpot, add the chicken bones and simmer while you prepare the stew. Season the vegetables and suite in oil for 20 minutes (cheat if you must, but it will lessen the flavor of the stew). Strain the stock and add to the vegetables. Taste and season. Make a roux by combining the oil and flour, stirring over a medium flame until it is a dark brown Add the roux to the stew and whisk in. Add the chicken meat, taste, and season again. Serve with crusty bread.


Curried Black-Eyed Peas

Here’s a curveball. Black-eyed peas made with a little Indian influence! I had a dish similar to this at a local Indian place and thought it pretty darn good. When you are in the mood for something spicy, give this a try. You can use frozen peas, but add to the mix and simmer until done. It will take just a few minutes longer.

2 cups cooked black-eyed peas

1 chopped onion

1 chopped bell pepper

½ cup celery

¼ cup chopped carrot

2 cups chicken (or vegetable stock)

Green curry paste or curry powder

1 cup rice

2 cups water


Sauté the vegetables in oil for 15 minutes. Add the chicken stock and 1 teaspoon curry. Please be careful with curry paste, it is strong and a little goes a long way. Add a little, stir, simmer, then taste. Cook for 10 minutes. Add the peas and cook for another 10 minutes. Combine rice and water and cook or 20 minutes lid on. You can combine the rice and peas, or served as in the photo above.






Written by Julian Brunt

Julian Brunt is a food and travel writer that has been writing about the food culture of the Deep South for over a decade. He is the eleventh generation of his family to live in the South, grew up in Europe, traveled extensively for the first fifteen years after graduating from the University of Maryland, University College, Heidelberg, Germany. Today, he's a contributor for multiple publications, including Our Mississippi Home. He's also appeared on Gordon Ramsay's television show, "To Hell and Back in 24 Hours."


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