Rice with pigeon peas is certainly food royalty in my book! I adore this combination. As a vegetarian, I am a fan of gandules because they are high in protein. In my family, arroz con gandules is usually a staple of the special occasion table such as Christmas, birthday parties, weddings, baptisms and so forth. But because I love eating it so much, I make it a home several times a month.
As a child I spent many moments shelling gandules at my grandfather's house; I also shelled them whenever someone gave my mother a bounty of fresh peas or when she bought them at the plaza del mercado. Even though my fingers would get all black and sticky, I would volunteer to shell gandules because I liked to eat them raw (I ate at least one from each pod). As an artisanal cook, my mother has always prided herself in making her gandules from fresh peas. There is absolutely no comparison between fresh peas and canned or frozen peas of course. Yet, in the absence of fresh gandules a can will absolutely do! Here I share my recipe for arroz con gandules, which I make using basmati brown rice (we gave up eating white rice here at home and have turned to brown rice wholeheartedly for its wonderful health benefits as well as rich nutty flavor). (*A note about brown rice: it requires more water as well as a longer cooking time at higher temperatures to cook well).
-1 1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
-2 Tablespoons sofrito
-5 cups water
-1 can gandules
-10-15 manzanilla olives + 1 teaspoon olive juice
-1 teaspoon garlic powder
-2 packets sazón con culantro y achiote
-1 teaspoon dried oregano (pulvorize with your fingers)
-salt to taste
-1 tablespoon finely cut and diced (fresh) red peppers or pimientos morrones
-2 cups brown rice
What to do?
Begin by adding olive oil to pot, let it heat up then add sofrito and sauté together for about 2 minutes. Add water let it boil, then add sazón, salt, peppers, garlic powder, oregano, olives and olive juice. Let it boil again, then add pigeon peas (do not drain liquid from can), then add rice. Set the stove to medium heat and cover-cook for 20 minutes. Then uncover and continue to cook for about 10 minutes or until water evaporates. Then set to lower heat, cover again and let cook for 15 minutes. Do not turn rice until you turn off stove. (Brown rice takes longer to cook, if at the end the rice still feels a little hard, add 1 tablespoon water and cook, covered for another 10 minutes on low heat).
Make enough to last you a couple of days. You will want seconds and thirds!