If you are a fan of exotic food and wonder what you can serve with Jambalaya, then this article is right for you. I have prepared 12 great sides that will make your food even more appealing and tasty.
Do not worry, and you find a lot more options than rice and noodles here, so whether you are seeking variation or you want to show off at the next dinner party, you will find your inspiration right here.
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A Few Words On Jambalaya
Jambalaya is a rice dish that was first observed to be made by Creole people in Southern Louisiana with influence from West Africa, France, and Spain. Traditionally, it consists of meat and vegetables which are mixed with rice. Ingredients should include some form of sausage, smoked pork or chicken meat, and seafood such as shrimp or crawfish.
It is prepared by sautéing the meat and vegetables first, before rice and other seasonings are added. The dish is then cooked with all ingredients in the pan until it is ready. Having Mediterranean influences, it consists of a similar base of ingredients as the Spanish Paella.
Though, it differs in the seasoning. For example, Paella uses saffron as the main spice, which is not found in Jambalaya. Furthermore, Jambalaya has a more intense heat while paella is rather mild.
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In case you need someone to show you how to make an original Louisiana jambalaya, simply watch this great video and see every step:
What To Serve With Jambalaya
Technically, Jambalaya already has everything that is needed in a full meal as you have meat and seafood, vegetables, but also rice to make you full. Hence, you can even eat it on its own, and there is no need to serve it aside.
However, pairing this food with “J” as the starter letter with other food gives an even greater variety of tastes. Also, some people may find it very intense and hot and appreciate interrupting that sensation with a different taste.
Here are the 12 best ideas:
Option 1: Cornbread
In Louisiana, corn is a popular starving, so don’t be surprised to see some corn here. In the Southwest, people love cornbread as its slightly sweet dough can interrupt the somehow spicy or hot flavors. Cornbread comes in different types, allowing you to choose one to your likings.
If you live in that region, you most likely can get it almost everywhere. However, if you cannot find it, it is pretty easy to make, and you even are able to prepare it a day in advance.
Option 2: Corn
As I mentioned, corn is popular, and if you are not in the mood of baking a cake, you can serve something way more simple. Simply cut an ear of corn on the cop in half and a toothpick on each side. Then, coat it with melted butter and put it on a grill.
Remember to turn it frequently so that it gets heated on all sides without burning. After a few minutes, you have a delicious, fresh, and homemade side to your Jambalaya.
Option 3: Buttermilk Biscuits
These biscuit buns have a similar effect to the cornbread as people who aren’t used to such an intensive mix of spices will appreciate this recipe mainly made with buttermilk. In addition, you also make sure that all your guests will be full after your jambalaya dinner.
Again, they are easy to make, and you can prepare them in advance as well. I recommend serving them hot, though, so if you have prepared them, you either keep them raw in the fridge and bake them when your guests are arriving, or you reheat them again if you have already baked them.
Should you want to reheat these, remember that one of the best techniques to reheat biscuits includes putting a layer of aluminum foil on top of them. Why? Because this will prevent biscuits from becoming brown and overly dry.
Option 4: Hush Puppy
Another variant of corn is found in hush puppies. You can use this ingredient in place of cornmeal in the batter for these little fried balls. When served fresh and hot, these balls can be a great addition to your Jambalaya. For example, you can dip them into the sauce.
The sweet corn dough will be a great combination with the intensive garlic taste, and some people will like the sweet interruption fairly well. As it is a common side for both meat and seafood dishes, you cannot go wrong by pairing it with Jambalaya.
Option 5: Green Salad
Enough with the staples, now moving on to the more light and healthy options. Suppose you feel that Jambalaya as itself is already heavy enough; how about pairing it with a salad consisting primarily of green leaves.
It will be a great color contrast while making your entire meal become a much more healthy touch. Get a well-balanced mix of seasonal greens, and avoid using lettuce if you want to make it look a little upscale.
Option 6: Greek-Style Salad
In the event that a plain salad sounds too boring, but you do not want to offer Caesar salad all the time, a Greek-style salad can be a perfect option. It consists of tomato, cucumber, paprika, and feta cheese, all sliced into small cubes. Also, add black olives for an even stronger taste and a nice play of the vibrant colors.
You can mix in some small green leaves and also cut in some basil for an even more intensive, Mediterranean taste. The juicy tomatoes, together with the sweetness from the paprika, will be a great intermezzo with the strong spices from the main course.
Option 7: Sauteed Spinach
In Louisiana, people may look weird at you if you are pairing sauteed greens with Jambalaya, but I can tell you it works perfectly well. The mild, slightly sweet taste from the sauteed spinach makes it perfect for aside, as it will not cover or interfere with the flavors from your main dish.
Apart from that, you are able to serve a hot but healthy side. Use some upscale cooking oil made of avocado or olive to saute this dish. Your spinach will release its maximum taste.
Option 8: Fried Zucchini
Fried pieces of zucchini have become a trendy dish in recent years, thanks to food bloggers on Instagram or YouTube. As the vegetable is nutritious, easy to use, and can be stored well for a couple of days in the fridge, it is a nice friend for the kitchen.
Simply select a delicious cultivar of zucchini, add some breadcrumbs on thin slices of zucchini and fry them in your pan. Make sure to serve them fresh, so start frying only once you are ready to serve your meal.
Option 9: Pasta Salad
In the event you are scared that you cannot feed everyone, a pasta salad can help you out if you seek a suitable side for Jambalaya.
Simply boil some bite-sized pasta, such as Penne, Rigatoni, or Fusilli, and mix them together with small cut vegetables, such as paprika or tomato, as well as egg, ham, corn, and peas. Add yogurt or another type of creamy dressing, and you are all set.
Pasta salad is a popular side order for summer BBQ meals. So, you will not see surprised faces when you serve this during the hot season, even if you pair it with something other than BBQ.
Option 10: Potato Gratin
This option is really only for those who can eat well, as it is definitely one of the heaviest sides due to the massive amounts of potatoes, cream, and cheese, so basically full of carbs and dairy.
However, many people love it, and hence you can use it as a guarantee to make sure that everyone will be full when coming to your home for dinner. Another nice thing is that you can easily prepare it in advance and keep it in the fridge and bake it exactly when you need it.
This way, you can present a freshly homemade side without the stress of doing everything last minute.
Option 11: Crispy Garlic Bread
Another BBQ star is the garlic bread, which is either heated up in the oven or on the grill. Similar to the corn variants from above, the bread works as a buffer against the hot spices and allows people to neutralize the taste from time to time.
When freshly roasted and served with herbal or garlic butter, it becomes a tasty snack, which you can either serve as a side or a starter.
Option 12: Prawn Cracker
Pairing these with a traditional jambalaya might make you become a fusion cook as you are joining famous food from different cultures. Nevertheless, they complement each other very well as both dishes contain seafood in a way.
Ideally, you buy the crackers raw and quickly fry them yourself at home in a small pot, dipping them one by one into the hot oil. If you manage to get them into a bowl-like shape, you can actually fill some jambalaya inside and eat all together to get a mix of all flavors into your mouth at the same time.
How To Store Jambalaya?
Jambalaya is enjoyed best when it is fresh, so I always recommend preparing it right at the time when you need it.
If you have leftovers and you plan to eat them in the next few days, you can store them in the fridge overnight. Make sure to store it as airtight as possible. You can use the original pan if you have a matching lid; otherwise, fill it into a lockable container.
The consistency will change though the longer you keep it stored, so try to eat it as soon as possible, ideally the next day. When heating up again, I recommend stirring it while heating in a pan again instead of a microwave.
If you are not able to finish your leftovers the next day, you have only the freezer option left. Put everything into a freezer-safe container to avoid freezing burns. In the freezer, you can store it for about half a year.
When reheating, take it out from the freezer about three to five hours before you are planning to eat it and let it slowly warm up in the fridge. Most food cannot cope well with sudden temperature changes.
Once the whole box is defrosted, you can put everything in a pan and reheat it again. Avoid using the microwave and heat slowly for the best results.
Expectation Vs. Reality – How To Choose The Right Side?
I have given you twelve great options, but it is you who, in the end, will need to choose what you are serving with Jambalaya.
Depending on how many people you are cooking, whether your guests have food preferences, special diets, or allergies, and last but not least, how much time you have to prepare everything, some particular options may be a better choice than others.
I recommend picking those that match best with your personal taste and then check which one you can prepare easiest. By the way, cooking Jambalaya and sides is a great activity for a dinner party as it involves many different steps, so all participants can do something.