Yellow Rice with Pigeon Peas (Arroz con Gandules)

>> Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A few years ago, we took a group of suburban teenagers on a mission trip to Puerto Rico to help fix houses, take care of children, and share our faith with the people we met. Our teens were wonderfully hard workers who also tried to speak a bit of the language (though they also tried to just add "o" to the end of English words to make them Spanish!).

Teen work crew in Hormigueros, PR

Once in a while the teens tried out the Puerto Rican dishes that were outside their comfort zone. One night we traveled from the little town of Hormigueros to a beach on the south side of the island. After swimming until sunset in a pretty little cove, we had dinner at a busy local restaurant. Arroz con gandules (say a-ROSE cone gon-doo-lays) was one of the side dishes. It was hearty, savory, and flavorful without being spicy-hot. We ate it all up.

La Casita restaurant,  La Parguera, Puerto Rico
La Casita restaurant in La Parguera, PR

(My dinner is in the tower at the bottom left - mofongo with shrimp. I can't wait to make this for you! Come over, we'll eat, we'll talk...!)

Joe and I bought a cookbook when we were in the Caribbean so we could make some of these dishes at home. Rice with pigeon peas is an inexpensive and filling dinner for a Meatless Monday, or a nice side dish with any kind of Latin American main dish. If you're not making a vegetarian version, it's traditional to stir in chopped sausage, ham or bacon.


1 tbsp oil
1/2 cup red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup onion, sliced
2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups long grain white rice
4 cups water
5 green Spanish olives, pitted and chopped
1 can green pigeon peas, drained
1 tbsp annato oil or 1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp fresh oregano, chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste


Heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the onion, pepper, garlic, and cilantro and saute until tender (if you're using meat, saute it with the vegetables).

Place all ingredients into a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 20 minutes on medium heat, or until rice is cooked.

Serves 2-4.


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