Arroz con Gandules – a classic Puerto Rican savory rice dish cooked with meat, gandules (aka pigeon peas) and some olives then spiced up with a homemade sofrito for an extra delicious rice meal!
After re stashing my pantry with this homemade sofrito , I decided to cook a big pan of Arroz con Gandules, also known as Puerto Rican Rice with Pigeon Peas for the whole family to go along with my smash hit Pernil (Puerto Rican Roasted Pork).
And we hardly ever spoke to each other while we dig in heartedly to our Puerto Rican-themed dinner. While Arroz con Gandules is mainly served during Christmas, birthdays and other special occasions, it sure makes a perfect family weeknight meal on regular days.
What is gandules in English?
Arroz con Gandules is a popular Puerto Rican rice dish with different variations, although, the most basic ingredient of it is a sofrito sauce, added with pork (this time, I used bacon) and gandules.
Now what is gandules?
Gandules or Pigeon Peas in English is an essential ingredient in making Arroz con Gnadules. It’s popular throughout the Caribbean. They are small, oval peas with a nutty flavor. They come in fresh, frozen, boiled and canned. For this recipe, we use a canned and drained pigeon peas. You can also buy them fresh or frozen in Latin or Caribbean food markets.
If you can’t find any pigeon peas, you can substitute them with canned pinto or red beans.
What’s in sofrito sauce?
This rice dish won’t be truly authentic without this mighty sofrito sauce – the heart and soul of Puerto Rican cuisine. If you missed my sofrito recipe, it is actually a very versatile aromatic green puree made of bell peppers, tomatoes, cilantro, garlic and onions. It makes a powerful base for dishes like stews, beans and rice dishes with different variations among the Caribbean, Latin America and other Spanish-speaking countries.
Leaving out this ingredient wouldn’t be an option as it totally makes a difference. However, you can check out my other rice and pigeon peas variations. 😉
How is it different with Jamaican Rice and Pigeons Peas?
If sofrito isn’t in the neck of your woods, don’t worry, you can go with this Jamaican Rice and Pigeons Peas recipe instead. Coconut rice is cooked with plump pigeon peas, sweet corn and traditional Jamaican spices in creamy coconut milk with a hint of smokiness from smoked paprika.
It’s both delicious in its own way. Want more flavorful rice recipes like this?? Heck yeah, I got boatloads for you. Check out this list of rice recipes HERE.
Don’t wait for Christmas or special days to make this Arroz con Gandules. It’s very tender, aromatic and very flavorful rice dish with complementing textures from pigeons peas and olives.
And oh, did I not mention that it reheats well? Now go make a big pot of this, reheat the leftover the next day and top it with an egg.
Tips and Notes:
- Aside from long grain rice, you can also use medium-grain rice. Avoid making this dish with shirt-grain rice as it gets too sticky and mushy.
- If you don’t have homemade sofrito, you can buy store-bought in Latin, Spanish and Caribbean markets. Some big groceries carry them in the international food aisle.
- You may substitute bacon with pork and the drippings with olive or canola oil. However, I love using bacon as the bacon drippings boost the flavor of this dish.
- As for those who’d ask if rinsing the rice is important, I’d say, YES. Rinsing the rice washes away the excess starch coated in it which makes the rice sticky.
- If you can’t find canned pigeons peas, you can go with pinto or red beans.
Arroz con Gandules - a classic Puerto Rican savory rice dish cooked with meat, gandules (aka pigeon peas) and some olives then spiced up with a homemade sofrito for an extra delicious rice meal!
- 2 cups long grain rice , rinsed
- 3 slices bacon , chopped
- 3 tablespoons sofrito
- 1 medium onion
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 can 15 oz Gandules (Pigeon Peas) , drained
- ½ cup tomato sauce
- ⅓ cup sliced olives
- 1 packet sazon
- 3 1/2 cups water
- salt and pepper
Wash rice until water runs clear. Drain water.
In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté bacon until brown and crisp. This may take about 5-5 minutes.
Remove bacon from skillet and transfer to a plate. There will be some bacon drippings left in the pan (about 1-2 tablespoons).
Pour about 1-2 tablespoons oil to the pan then Add sofrito to the skillet , until fragrant ,about 2-3 minutes.
Throw onion, garlic and cumin to the pan. Sauté for about a minute.
Stir in rice and continue stirring for about 1-2 minutes.
Then add gandules, tomato sauce, olive , sazon and water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat; cover with a lid and simmer until rice is cooked, about 18 minutes or more. Stir occasionally from the sides to prevent burns, add more water if needed.
Adjust for salt and pepper.
How to Make Arroz con Gandules
Wash rice until water runs clear. Drain water. In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté bacon until brown and crisp. This may take about 5-5 minutes. Remove bacon from skillet and transfer to a plate. There will be some bacon drippings left in the pan (about 1-2 tablespoons). Pour about 1-2 tablespoons oil to the pan then Add sofrito to the skillet , until fragrant ,about 2-3 minutes.
Stir occasionally from the sides to prevent burns, add more water if needed. Adjust for salt and pepper