Arroz con Gandules (Rice & Pigeon Peas)

We used freshly made recaito and a variety of familiar, pungent spices as the sazon or seasoning in this traditional Puerto Rican dish. You can substitute 2 packets of Sazon GOYA with Coriander and Annatto, a commercial product, for the spices, if you’d like. This product can be found in the ethnic section of most large supermarkets or at Hispanic markets.

Yield: 5 main-dish servings

Ingredients

  • 4 slices bacon, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup cubed ham
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh, frozen, or jarred recaito
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (15-ounce) can green pigeon peas, undrained
  • 2 cups medium-grain rice
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 cup olives stuffed with pimientos, sliced (optional)
  • Fresh cilantro leaves (optional)

Instructions

Cook bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add ham, and cook until ham begins to turn brown. Reduce heat to medium; add onion, garlic, and green pepper, and cook until vegetables are tender, stirring frequently. Add recaito and next 8 ingredients; cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add tomato sauce and peas; bring mixture to a boil. Add rice and water, stirring well. Return mixture to a boil; cover tightly, reduce heat to low, and simmer 25 minutes. (Do not remove lid during cook time.) Remove from heat. Gently fluff rice mixture with a fork. Cover, and let stand 5 minutes.

To serve, spoon rice mixture onto serving plates, and garnish with sliced olives and fresh cilantro leaves, if desired.

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